How much ‘loving kindness’ is there in the workplace today?

Can’t quite understand why I feel compelled to return to this subject, but to me it still feels like kindness is an underrated attribute. Something that is seen as a form of weakness in an increasingly embittered and frantic world.

I first came across Dr Danny Penman’s book: Mindfulness for Creativity — Adapt, Create and Thrive in a frantic world, about three years ago. And amongst the many meditations described in the book, it’s the one related to resilience and loving kindness, that remains with me to this day. The idea being to bring loving kindness, not just to those close to you, but also to those people who you might be struggling with either professionally or personally.

Looking back over my own career, I can see that there were times when I certainly wouldn’t have entertained the idea of bringing ‘loving kindness’ to some of the people I worked with. But an older and I’m hoping, wiser Janice, can see now what a difference it might have made to some of my relationships at work.

And it still has me wondering, ‘how much kindness’ is out there in the workplace today or is it always, ‘dog eat dog’? What would our workplaces be like if we adopted this approach, particularly towards our more ‘difficult’ colleagues?

How might things be different if we regularly practiced this and sent out those ‘loving vibes’?

I will always remember, particularly in the early stages of my career, unexpected and seemingly random acts of kindness shown to me by teachers and work colleagues.

Some of them include:

My head pulling a few strings to get me an interview at my local FE college, where she felt I would stand a better chance of successfully completing the A’ levels I had chosen. As it turned out, she was right, and I did indeed pass my Physics, Chemistry and Maths.

The continual encouragement of my Saturday job manager in the shoe shop I worked in. His unfailing, ‘I know you can do it, Janice’ that kept me going when I was struggling to hit my sales targets, week after week. Then of course once I did start eventually hitting them, there was no stopping me.

Regularly being invited to share Sunday lunches with a work colleague and his family, during my first full time job after graduating. I was still paying off my student debt and had very little money left at the end of each month.

Being offered a second chance after a poor first job appraisal. I would have ‘up the creek without a paddle’, had I lost this position. I did then go onto spend four very happy and productive years with this company.

John, the metal shop manager who after my error in ordering the wrong size metal tubes, (something to do with tolerances 😉) called me to the shop floor. Where he firmly and clearly pointed out my error but was equally clear about how I could rectify it especially as the job was due to be completed that day. Nonetheless it was done with kindness and minimum fuss, so that over 30 years later I still remember him with affection. And the job was sorted the following day.

And more recently I’d like to remember the colleague who physically turned up to support me when I was dealing with an ongoing crisis at work.

Though in general, I think kindness in the workplace might well show itself in:

The colleagues who pick up the slack, when another colleague is struggling, the people who ‘roll up their sleeves’ and get ‘stuck in’.

The interviewer who might add the additional prompt when it becomes clear that a candidate is struggling to respond.

The people who graciously and generously share their knowledge and expertise, ‘give it away!’ as I was advised to do at a local networking event.

The manager, who chooses to deliver a tough message with care and compassion. Have long believed that there are at least two parts to any message, the content itself and the way it is delivered. A conversation I have had countless times over the years as a coach, when managers have had to deliver ‘tough messages’ and then recognise the importance of allowing enough time and space for the recipient to respond. I am not a fan of ‘hit and run’, delivery.

Taking the time to gently and privately, discuss hygiene issues with a staff member, particularly if others are noticing.

Can I help you with anything?

Is the one question that could make everyone at work, happy. Read Wanda Thibodeaux’s article here, to find out more.

So, there you have it, until next time.

Janice Taylor

Adapted from an original post on

Career Coach and Writer on a mission to discover how people can thrive and flourish in life and work.

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