Kindness applies so clearly to our work lives. However, we rarely exercise the option to use it. We’ve all suffered workplace disappointments and detours. However, many of these low points could have been tempered with a small dose of kindness. The opportunities for kindness are really endless. We just have to be mindful that they exist.
Here are just a couple of examples from my own career, where kindness might have changed the eventual outcome.
- Applying for a job. Most of us have been either ignored, put off or minimized during the hiring process. So, do not post a role that has really already filled — or if a decision will not be made for months, don’t promise an update within a week. (Someone might turn down an opportunity with you in mind.)
- A sharp change in direction. I was to gather data for my dissertation at a large auto company. One week before the process was to begin, a newly hired VP of HR stated: “We have ivy-league schools clambering to study us, why would I allow you to do so?”. (BTW, I attended Wayne State University, located in the heart of Detroit. It took 6 months to re-group with another sample). Explaining why they couldn’t comply without insult, would have been a better route.
- Organizational downsizing. I was caught in one of these early in my career. After offering my heart and soul to the organization for nearly 2 years, they offered me a cardboard box (and out placement, if I signed a document to not sue) at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon. If I had known my role was in danger, I could have looked for another role. Instead they chose to be cold and perfunctory, to avoid a real conversation and potential legal issues. Real leaders know better.
I’m sure you have your own work life stories to reflect upon. How would an act of kindness have changed the situation?
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and coach. She is the Director of Thought Leadership at Kilberry Leadership Advisors, Toronto.