Walk into any mall store -- or check out any online retailer -- and you're likely to find a "Be Kind" t-shirt. Or tote bag. Or pillow. Or coffee mug.
It seems we all want to be kind to one another and hope others will do the same.
But what does it mean to be kind in the workplace? Some seasoned career professionals will tell you that being kind is fine, but when it comes to your career, you have to be a bit cutthroat as well if you want to survive.
I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I don't advise anyone to be so kind that they become a human doormat and don't stand up for themselves at work. At the same time, most cutthroat people end up burning so many bridges that later in their careers they often have no supporters -- and no careers.
Many of us have been working remotely, or have taken new jobs. We may vow to "be kind" in the workplace and not fall into the trap of gossiping, being negative and being selfish at work.
But, how, exactly, can you be kind at work without falling into the doormat trap? Think about:
1. Helping others. I know that most of us have more than enough on our plates most days, but that doesn't mean you can't put some effort into helping someone who is struggling. You don't have to take on that person's work, but you can buy them a cup of coffee, offer to proofread a report or just be a sounding board for them.
2. Paying more attention. Everyone has a bad day at work, and sometimes it's a bad week. When it happens, don't just turn a blind eye. Offer words of encouragement and even share times when you've struggled. Just putting a "You can do this!" note on someone's desk can really help that person.
3. Be an advocate. Is there someone in meetings who is always ignored, or has his or her ideas shot down? If so, speak up. Say: "I'd like to hear what Julie has to say," or "Jason, you made a good point -- can you elaborate on that a bit?" Even after a meeting is a good time to say to someone: "I thought that information you offered about online sales was really helpful."
Sometimes we believe we don't have the energy to take on another thing, even if it's helping someone having a bad day. But what anyone will tell you is that being kind is energizing -- for the receiver and for the giver. The added bonus is that some of the most successful people say that being kind is what got them ahead.