Kindness is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May). The recent coronavirus pandemic has shown us all how much kindness matters in a crisis – with people clapping for the NHS and communities coming together to look after their vulnerable people.
Kindness matters hugely at a community and societal level, and also in our relationships with each other. But rarely do we think about kindness at work, especially in the legal profession, when we are often all business. However kindness does matter in the workplace too, and research shows that acts of kindness at work result in a happier workforce.
So what does being kind in the workplace look like and how can we practice it?
One of the central tenets of kindness is respect. We can show respect by how we talk to people, how we listen, keeping eye contact and not looking at your phone, turning up to meetings on time. Treating people respectfully in our day to day dealings with them means they will be more likely to want to work at the organisation or for an individual in particular – and crucially for business will want to do well at their jobs, for themselves and for the wider team .Civility is contagious, so if leaders model this behaviour it will filter down to the rest of the organisation resulting in a happier, healthier, more motivated workforce and better retention rates.
Compassion for people around us is a huge part of kindness. Everyone, especially at the moment, is dealing with a wide variety of issues every day, juggling work, caring responsibilities, loneliness, pre-existing mental health conditions exacerbated by lockdown and worries about the health of their loved ones and the future. These are challenging times so ask people how they are feeling, how they are coping with their workload, what you can do to help.
Praise and gratitude
Sometimes we are so fixated on the next task at hand that we forget to have a moment to reflect on our own successes and of the people around us. In fact often a job well done is ignored and our focus is on something going wrong instead. We all need to make sure we are giving credit where credit is due, saying ‘well done’ or ‘thank you’. This helps people feel truly valued and help prevent workplace related anxiety building which can occur when staff aren’t getting positive feedback from their colleagues or managers.
One of the greatest ways to demonstrate kindness is by helping others. In the workplace that might look like volunteering to help with a project if someone seems overstretched, mentoring a junior member of staff or taking time out to check up on someone we work with. We all have unique skills that can help others, and it also benefits us to help other people, making us feel valued and giving us a sense of purpose.
More kindness in the law will make the profession a happier and healthier place to work.
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