An open letter from Glenn Stearns, CEO of Kind Lending
Pay it forward.
I never liked that expression. It makes it sound like kindness is some sort of transaction.
Something with a dollar sign attached. And I just can’t agree with that.
I’ll tell you why.
From what I’ve seen, kindness has a habit of paying for itself. Many times over in fact. What we put out into the world can have so much more of an effect than we think. This is true in your relationships, your community, and your life at large.
But you know me, I’m all work, work, work.
I’m interested — intrigued, in fact — in how the philosophy of kindness can be applied to the office to make it the sort of place that people WANT to show up to. It’s not hard. I’ve done the research. I’ve read the reports. There’s scientific evidence out there that proves people perform better than ever when they’re placed in a work environment that values kindness over all.
You want to see that boost of happiness and productivity in your own office?
I’ve got a couple of ideas.
1. Start A Conversation
As we know, if you want to change things for the better, it always — always — has to start with you. Now I’m not asking you to make any big plays here. You don’t have to break your back to bring a little kindness into your place of business.
Let’s start simple.
Here’s an idea. Stand up. Walk to the cubicle next to you. Wander into the kitchen. If you work from home, start up a zoom call. Why? I want you to find a co-worker you haven’t talked to for a while and actually have a conversation with them.
Doesn’t have to be work related! In fact, it’s better if it’s not. But here’s the key!
You have to really LISTEN to what they have to say.
One of the greatest acts of kindness you can do for someone else is to simply take an interest in them. Ask them about their weekend. Their dog. What they had for breakfast. I know we’re coming out of a pandemic and our social skills are a little rusty, but come on, you’re not going to get any better at the art of socializing if you don’t practice.
That’s what I’m saying. Kindness pays for itself.
2. Share A Coffee
This one’s even easier than the first! Just ask your cubicle-mate how they take their coffee and go out and get it.
Just like that!
What is it, an extra $3.50? Come on, you just got that raise. You’ve got a little extra cash splashing around to spare. Especially for a co-worker — someone you’re in the trenches with five days of the week.
I assure you, if you show up with that coffee and place it on their desk (and wave off their protesting claim that they ‘simply must’ pay you back) you’ll have done a small act of kindness that that co-worker will remember for much, much longer than you think.
And yes I know what you’re thinking. If you’re going downstairs and across the street to pick up a coffee for your co-worker, OF COURSE you’re allowed to get one for yourself.
You’ve got to look out for number one, you know?
3. Give A Compliment
Wow, these little acts of kindness just keep getting easier!
This one doesn’t require a trip across the block. It doesn’t call for a single sentence of small talk (I know you’re secretly dreading act of kindness #1).
All you need to do is see something you appreciate about your co-worker and tell them.
It could be literally ANYTHING! Compliment them on their shoes. On their ability to control the room in a meeting. On the great idea they just had in your brainstorming session. On the distractingly delicious-looking home-made lunch they brought in and heated up in the microwave, making the office smell like Sunday afternoon at your folks’ house and…
And now I’m hungry.
You get the idea though.
I’m not asking you to go above and beyond. I’m not even asking you to go out of your way. These are the most minor acts of kindness I could think of off the top of my head — but science has PROVEN that acts as small as these, performed consistently enough, are capable of transforming the entire ecosystem of your workplace into one that supports and uplifts its employees in ways we’ve never before seen.
The sort of place you can’t wait to get back to on a Monday morning.
So once you finish reading this article — once you click away and get distracted by something else — just remember this:
Paying it forward is all well and good, but we need people to START that beautiful cycle of kindness.
And that someone could be you.