We all experience those situations where someone does something unreasonable, unfair or just downright mean, and our immediate reaction may be to fight back or retaliate in some way.
In many cases, a better response is to respond with kindness.
Recently, one of my team members received an unnecessarily narky email from someone. Rather than ignore it, she went back with a very polite and friendly email explaining the situation. Their response – they apologised.
Likewise, very early in my career there was a person (in a far more senior position) who for some reason didn’t like me. We had never had a disagreement or an issue I could pinpoint as the reason why. But she made it clear – to everyone – she didn’t like me.
My response, I was overly nice to her. What I found is that over time, she came around. Why? Because for her to continue to behave in the same way towards me made her look unreasonable and was detrimental to her reputation.
You may not realise it but being kind is one of the most powerful skills in your toolkit. It’s not weakness. Quite the contrary. It takes a lot of self-control to be nice, when you are facing someone who isn’t being nice to you.
Regardless of their response to your kindness, your behaviour demonstrates to others that you won’t sacrifice your own standards or be negatively influenced by their behaviour.
As well, if you ‘bite back’ (which can feel good for the few moments after), it doesn’t pay off in the long run. It also adds to the stress levels in the workplace.
This approach is not about capitulating and not standing your ground when you need to. It’s about recognising that when someone around you is negative, grumpy or rude you don’t need to respond in the same way.
There could be a whole raft of reasons for their behaviour – most of which has nothing to do with you.
Research reveals we are happier at work when we are kind and find ways to genuinely care about the people that we work with.
As the Greater Good Science Centre reports when we are kind at work we treat others with dignity and respect, are empathetic, compassionate, and grateful. We also constructively manage conflicts.
It is also suggested that being compassionate and grateful translates into more success in achieving your goals at work.
So, what does kindness at work look like for you? I’d love to hear your ideas.
As you ponder that question, it’s worth reflecting on this wonderful comment from his Holiness the Dalai Lama who said:
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness”.
Getting you ready for tomorrow, today®.
Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’ and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate Your Career’. For more information: www.michellegibbings.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.