Is Kindness Under-Rated at Work?

cat in hand by Sarah Haj-Hassan

One of the qualities I  value most in people is kindness; they could be brilliant at what they do, at the top of their field, earning a fortune, but if they are carelessly unkind they cut no ice with me.

In my experience kindness is somewhat under rated in the world of work. It rarely features on any job description and people are not usually praised at annual review for being kind. It probably comes under the heading of ‘soft skill’ that businesses tend to think of as an optional extra.

Yet kindness adds so much and its absence takes so much away. It is so much more than the sum of its parts, always.

An encounter with someone who has been kind can leave you with a smile on your face all day, pick you up when you feel low, help you learn something you were finding tricky, and generally leave you feeling better than before. The kindness of strangers has even saved lives, witness the recent story about a young man who was attempting to kill himself and a kind stranger talked him out of it. The distressed young man wanted to find the stranger who had saved his life and eventually did so. Details here. It’s a ‘warm glow’ story.

I am still basking in the warm glow of hearing of a kindness done by some council refuse collectors. It has elevated those workers in my estimation although they have no idea that I know what they’ve done, and didn’t do it for any recognition.

Here’s the story:

We have a lovely friend, a young man who has Downs Syndrome. He is a delight and unselfconsciously free with his love and hugs, making even a simple task like hanging washing on the line an unexpected delight as he calls his greeting out over the fence.

He is always keen to help others and likes to gather all the bins in one place to help out the refuse collectors (we are in a small street). Over time the refuse collectors have recognised what he’s doing and a few weeks ago gave him a special pair of protective gloves to wear, and told him he is their ‘special bin man’ for our road and a big help to them. Actually, in truth he may even slow them a down little and I’m sure their job descriptions don’t allow for this. Few people will know they have done it. It was pure, unadulterated kindness. My friend is completely ‘made up’ and I swear he grows an inch or two taller every Monday morning. It was the best of kindnesses, and it warms the cockles of my heart.

So next time you feel a bit low yourself, do a kindness and spread it around. The world will look a bit better for all.

P.S. RenewYou is my one day personal development for programme for women, licensed to excellent trainers across the world. Check out your nearest one and invest in yourself this summer.

Photo Credit: Sarah Haj-Hassan

Posted on June 18th, 2014 by

5 Responses to “Is Kindness Under-Rated at Work?”

  1. I have always thought that random and unexpected acts of kindness can do so much and stay with someone for a very long time, if not for the rest of their lives.

  2. Catherine says:

    What a lovely post and one that instantly made me perk up. For me kindness should be a reflex, a bit like love is. If we haven’t developed the soft skill of kindness then how can we possibly in a position to communicate with others in a way that’s supportive, encouraging and considerate.

    For some there also needs to be an understanding that acts of kindness do not interfere with boundaries or even when there are difficult issues at work to deal with kindness doesn’t equal being ‘soft’.

    • Jane says:

      Thanks for the comments, Catherine & Janice. I don’t think one need be unkind at work, although those who think you sometimes need to be cruel to be kind may disagree! 🙂

  3. Susan coull says:

    Kindness – great posting- and being kind can even keep our heart healthy as it causes a positive change in our bodies physiology as per Dr David Hamiltons work.
    I wonder tho if we can be overkind?

    • Jane says:

      Good point. Yes, entirely possible especially if we ‘ disable’ in truest sense of word, by not allowing people to make mistakes and grow, etc.

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