Sometimes the most effective form of communication is the one that gets overlooked at work: kindness. Quite often, office environments have a competitive dynamic and it’s common for employees to have the mentality that they are at work for work only and not to make friends. However, at a time where the world’s experiencing significant change and a whole host of added pressures, it’s more important than ever that we are kind to one another. After all, kindness cultivates happiness, and who doesn’t want to feel happy at work?
It’s World Kindness Day today and we thought what better way to honour it than to showcase why kindness is key when you communicate. We’ve rounded up our key tips on how to promote kindness in the workplace.
- Take a leaf out of David Attenborough’s book
If there’s anyone we can learn from, when it comes to being kind and compassionate, it’s David Attenborough. Not only has he devoted his entire life to encouraging empathy with wildlife, he also speaks with great compassion too. The legendary broadcaster recently joined Instagram and in his opening post, stated that ‘saving our planet is now a communications challenge’. He has joined Instagram to share videos to explain what the problems are, how we can deal with them, and to encourage communities to join forces in making change happen.
A major learning that we can take from this is, that we need to work together to move forward and inspire change, rather than dwelling on the negatives. The reality is, perpetuating doom and gloom without any solution scares people, and this puts them at risk of zoning out from the issue in question. Just like David Attenborough, we need to be compassionate to inspire others to take action to make a difference.
- Learn someone else’s language
When a couple are having problems in their relationship, a marriage counsellor might suggest they are speaking in a different language to one another. The same applies to communicating in business, especially when interacting with people outside of your usual work circle. For example, you might find that when liaising with external clients, it’s difficult to grasp what they are saying, because they work in a completely different industry or use terminology you’re not used to. This can cause misinterpretations which can lead to unintentional friction.
Taking the time to research and understand someone else’s language allows you to communicate compassionately, and in a way that makes sense to them. It also enables you to promote their stories better. The more you can get to grips with what makes them tick, the more likely they will respect you and the easier it will become to reach a fruitful outcome. Not forgetting, of course, that talking to someone in a kind manner means they are more likely to speak to you in the same way back.
- Be mindful of your tone
Thinking before you speak can make all the difference when communicating. As the old adage goes, ‘it’s not what you say, but how you say it’. People can quickly sense sarcasm, disrespect, and anger, from the tone of your voice. Once that tone is established, it can drown out the entire conversation, making it hard to concentrate on the subject in question. It’s, therefore, crucial to nail down your intentions before airing what you think. Even if you have something difficult to say, try to say it firmly but kindly.
- Create ways to praise one another
Often, we are so wrapped up in our busy schedules that we forget to show gratitude to team members. A little thank you can go a long way in building a team member’s confidence, and in contributing to their overall happiness in the workplace. Try to create opportunities for employees to praise one another so that this becomes ingrained in your work culture. Setting up a message board and asking employees to write a nice post-it note about fellow colleagues is an easy way to spread kindness at work.
- Build on other people’s ideas
Any idea is better than no idea. Make sure to value everyone’s opinions during meetings. Even if you disagree with a person’s idea, perhaps you don’t think it’s feasible, try not to disregard it, instead, build on what they’ve said. You never know, it might send you in a different direction or help you come up with a completely new idea.
Being kind to one another is crucial for refreshing workplace wellbeing right now. The majority of us spend an awful lot of time at work, so it’s important that we enjoy it. Communicating compassionately can not only help to make your working environment a more enjoyable place for others, but for yourself as well.
For more helpful insights into encouraging better wellbeing at work, take a look at our article: The benefits of flexible working for employees & businesses.