In his 2018 Netflix comedy special Annihilation, Patton Oswalt talks about his late wife, writer Michelle McNamara’s philosophy on life: “It’s chaos; be kind.” It’s a simple, yet beautiful, philosophy to carry around. The world can be chaotic, scary, and hard sometimes, so be kind (both to yourself and others). I don’t think anyone would disagree that the world could always use more kindness in it.
This is an important thing to keep in mind in the professional world, as well as our personal lives. Jobs can be hard. They can really suck sometimes. The last thing any of us need is some jerk making it harder. So be kind! The truth is that we’re all humans, and we’re all in this together. When you work at an office (or any other job), it’s important to bring empathy and kindness into the workspace so that we’re not making it harder on ourselves and others.
For management, it’s important to keep in mind that even if an employee is “under” you, you need to be a leader that inspires, not an authoritarian barking orders. If more managers would approach their jobs with more kindness, a lot of these bad-blood situations could be easily avoided. Employees like being treated with kindness and respect, and the vast majority will give you better output if treated well! The bosses that yell and scream and are generally awful will only get the bare minimum required from their employees. The bosses that treat employees with basic kindness have a much more responsive and productive workforce. Pay attention! These are human beings working for you, treat them as such. Listen to your employees, be aware of when they’re getting burnt out. Finds way to make their lives less stressful, and they’ll make your life easier as well.
For employees, if someone goes low, you go high. Be the bigger person. Respond with kindness. Nothing good comes from adding negativity to a situation. If you see someone struggling, offer to help. Hold the door open for the person carrying a box. Don’t hit the “close door” button if you see someone running to catch the elevator. Wish your co-worker a happy birthday, even if they’re not exactly your favorite. Congratulate someone after an accomplishment. Thank someone after they’ve helped you. Respond to emails in a timely matter. These are all small acts of kindness that can make a huge difference in the day-to-day grind of a job.
By creating a company-wide culture and expectation of kindness, you’ll have a much better functioning workforce that is happy at work, rather than one that’s just killing time until the clock hits five so they can run for the door, muttering curses under their breath. Make a conscious effort over the next week to purposefully add kindness to your workplace, and see the differences it makes. As Michelle McNamara so wisely put it, “It’s chaos; be kind.”