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Career Bites #03: Be Kind

Picture of Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Workplace Kindness is one of the most underestimated ways to advance your career. You have to be scrappy. You need to hustle. But hard work isn’t always visible. On the other hand, acts of kindness never go unnoticed.

Life is long. You just never know which relationships will turn out to be important, which favors will be returned 10-fold, when someone will give you a leg up because they think you’re a good person. So be kind. Treat everyone in your professional life, as you should in your personal life, with respect and generosity. Even if it doesn’t pay off directly, it feels good. Try these three daily good deeds:

  1. Ask someone how they are and – with active listening  – genuinely listen to their answer. Be there.
  2. Say yes to someone who asks for help or a favor.
  3. Teach someone something.

Want more creative ideas for acts of workplace kindness?
Download our list of 47 at the bottom of this post.

More to chew on

If you start to engage in daily acts of workplace kindness, you will notice a few surprising things.

  1. Life will start to seem easier. If you are focused on ways to be nice to others, the clouds of frustration that might occasionally pass over your own work will be less ominous and less frequent.
  2. People will start naturally returning the favors, and you will soon have some new ideas for your own acts inspired by those of others.
  3. But most importantly, you will start to get to know your colleagues in a more personal way.

This last one is extremely important to your career advancement. People promote the people they like. One of the best ways to be someone people like is to turn professional colleagues into professional friends.

This doesn’t mean you have to babysit their kids, play 18 holes of golf with them every weekend, or spend every Saturday night out on the town together to desperately build a social connection. In fact, you never need to hang with them outside of work. But it does mean that you need to connect with them as a complete human being and not just as “boss,” “subordinate,” or “peer.”

Here is an example of what I mean.

Think of a close friend. Could you name two or three things they like to eat? How about stuff they hate? If you were going to surprise your good friend with lunch, what would you get him?

This question is probably easy to answer for your close friends. You know their taste.

But what about the people in your office?

Let’s try the Lunch Test.

Stand up right now and walk around your office. Take note of a few things:

  1. Which people do you feel you know really well?
  2. Who don’t you know very well but wish you did?
  3. Who don’t you know at all?

Then come back to your desk and try the Lunch Test:

Ask yourself this question: If I were going to buy lunch for each of the people I saw on my walk, what would I get them?

You might know who eats Paleo, who is avoiding gluten, and who’s a vegetarian with a nut allergy. But if you wanted to really surprise them with something they love, could you do that?

In most cases, the answer is probably no.

Food is always a great way to connect with people – that’s why our Career Bites feature food porn!! Everybody’s gotta eat, and most of us find great joy in a delicious meal.

To begin expanding your relationships with colleagues, use the Lunch Test. And then…

Start to get curious about their taste. What kind of food do they like? What’s their favorite neighborhood restaurant? What’s the one place around the corner they will never go to again? What’s their go-to splurge meal?

What if you were going to take them out for ice cream  –  we recommend Ice Cream Bar in San Francisco by the way – what flavor would they get? What flavors would they NEVER get?

But food is just the launching-off point. What kind of movies do they like? What kind of live music do they enjoy? What hobbies get them out on the weekend? What’s their favorite vacation spot? What part of their work gets them out of bed every morning?

As you start to get to know your colleagues better as whole people, you will naturally find that your professional relationships expand, your collaboration improves, and personal growth opportunities will start to present themselves because you have formed real professional friendships. These are the benefits of kindness.

Want more creative ideas for acts of workplace kindness? Download our list of 47. Print it out and tape it up by your desk as a daily reminder to do nice things for people!!

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Career Bites #07: Say Thanks

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How to Say Thanks the Right Way

Kindness People help you grow. They help you advance. They create opportunities for you. The support of others is like kindling for your career. No, not kindling, rocket fuel. It’s