I have certainly experienced job stress. Make that a LOT of stress. Too much work, not enough time, pressure to perform, competitive dragons breathing fire at the gate have all come my way. And what that stress triggers is all too predictable within the workplace.

Patience decreases, self-importance increases and all of a sudden it seems so easy to be curt with people. After all  “I am way too busy for conversation…my work is more important that people around me.” So kindness takes a backseat in the workplace during times of stress and intensity or when things just are not going well.

Yes, it can be tough. But without the sense of caring and compassion, negativity spirals, morale plummets, and the results mean less innovation and productivity.

The flip side is that by injecting a little bit of kindness, problems don’t seem so monumental. It is just as easy to be kind as it is to be rude or mean-spirited.  Kindness and giving to others is actually the antidote to stress, the antidote for depression, the antidote in many cases to sickness, as science shows that laughing, sharing, and being empathetic boosts the immune system.

Often people talk about the importance of teamwork  in the workplace, leveraging the power of “US” versus “me." Kindness is a major part of this philosophy as well. The literal translation means “human-ness,” and is often described as “humanity toward others.”

I’ve also heard it explained as that sincere warmth with which people treat members of their community.  Isn’t the workplace a community?

As a corporate executive, I have worked with many bright, compassionate, and creative individuals over the years. Folks who smile, banter with me, and generally make me feel good. And then the hammer drops. Workload doubles, phones ring off the hook, and pretty soon the culture devolves and everyone becomes too busy to talk with anyone. Signs are even posted to this effect. Suddenly our comradery vanishes and we begin to lose trust in one another.

Being positive and empathetic, however, can shake up this scenario of intensity.  With increased workload and pressure try a little kindness. Treat others well, and the result is collaboration and a shared commitment to overcome challenges. 

Here are some other  thoughts on how to practice Kindness  during periods of stress:

  1. Give colleagues the benefit of the doubt and always assume good intent.
  2. Smile when you arrive each day and act like you are actually glad to see your co-workers.
  3. Don’t take things personally when people experience stress or say things that may not be accurate.
  4. Even if it seems there is no time, take a moment to pause, chat and LAUGH!

Share the ways you try to be in kind in the workplace. What has worked for you?