Yes, of course you should be thoughtful and considerate because it's the right thing to do. But being helpful at work has an added benefit, according to Orly Wahba, author of Kindness Boomerang.
"When kindness is shared, it grows," she writes. "And every bit of kindness we put out into the world comes back in some way."
Here's another reason to help out your colleagues: Being kind has the power to make you more successful. Especially in today's elbows-out, cyber-bullying society, kindness gives you a competitive advantage over your uncivil colleagues.
Need some ideas for how to start your own kindness boomerang? Here are 20:
- Hold the door for someone. "Simple enough, and you may just make someone's day," writes Wahba.
- As you leave a meeting, thank the organizer for setting up and facilitating.
- Introduce yourself to the new employee who just started. "Warm words can melt away feelings of trepidation," Wahba writes.
- Say yes immediately when someone asks you to do a small favor.
- Give a handwritten card to a colleague who accomplished something awesome.
- Don't judge. Writes Wahba: "What is judgment but fear of admitting our flaws and insecurities?" Acknowledge that your co-workers are human and accept them as they are.
- Pay for the coffee of the person behind you at the kiosk.
- Is a colleague looking for a job? Assist by reviewing his/her resumé or using your contacts to help your colleague network.
- When waiting in line (at the coffee kiosk or in the cafeteria), "break the ice and engage in a few minutes of conversation with others. Not only will the time go faster, you may end up with a new friend," writes Wahba.
- Start a clothing drive, toy drive or food drive.
- Nominate a colleague for an award or honor.
- Treat a coworker to lunch. "We can get so wrapped up in work mode that we forget to truly connect with people. Infusing the workplace with a bit of kindness can do wonders."
- Make eye contact and say thank you to everyone you encounter today "who provides a service or makes your life easier even in the slightest way."
- Have you read a book recently that contains helpful advice? Instead of just providing a colleague with the title and author, buy the book as a gift. And mark the sections you think will be most pertinent.
- To recognize a co-worker for help on a project or doing an especially great job, send an email to his/her manager.
- Know someone who is going through a rough patch? Fill a box with your colleague's favorite treats and leave it at his/her workstation.
- Give a colleague a second chance. Wahba quotes George Christoph Lichtenberg, who wrote, "It often takes more courage to change one's opinion than to stick to it."
- When someone is talking, give him/her your full attention.
- Schedule 30 minutes to share your knowledge with a colleague who needs coaching.
- "Take a moment to acknowledge an act of kindness someone has performed," writes Wahba. "It will make the other person feel good--and encourage him/her to repeat the kindness in the future."
"I've been the recipient of so much kindness in my life that it's inspired me to live more kindly with those around me," writes Wahba. It's a ripple effect that begins with one simple act."