Thanksgiving is usually a day when we gather with friends and family to give thanks for the blessings we have in our lives. While most of us also happen to enjoy the annual feast that is traditionally the highlight of the holiday, perhaps this year we can add another element to the celebration that has a more meaningful impact on those around us.
Consider committing small random acts of kindness (RAOK). While we’re all still struggling with workplace challenges thanks to the pandemic, now might be a good time to share RAOK with co-workers and others in your overall community. While WHAT you do may not seem significant to you, it could have a lasting impact on HOW you make others feel. And shouldn’t that be the goal?
Here are just a few random acts of kindness in the workplace that could make someone’s day.
1. Be intentional about verbally thanking others for their effort on a work-related project. Tell someone you appreciate their contributions. Two simple words, “thank you”, can make someone feel that they are more than just a cog in the wheel. If you really want to make them feel special, add their name to the end of the statement, “Thank you, Brendan”. Hearing someone say your name can provide a sense of validation and recognition that is immeasurable. You’re no longer just acknowledging the act, you’re acknowledging the person.
2. Ask someone about their day, their plans, their family. And here’s the really important part: Listen to the response. Let me say this again for clarity…listen to the response. For one day, don’t ask rhetorical questions as you pass by colleagues in the hallway or stare at them on the other end of your computer monitor. Better yet…after they respond, ask them a follow-up question that shows you listened and are actually interested! People love talking about themselves. Unfortunately, we often get so busy at work that we forget we’re working with human beings just like ourselves with lives outside the office.
3. Pay for someone else’s cup of coffee. I remember pulling into a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru several years ago to get a cup of coffee and a bagel. When I pulled up to pay, the woman inside the window said that the driver in front of me paid for my breakfast and just asked that I “pay it forward”. It blew me away! It was such a small gesture but it made me feel so grateful that someone I didn’t know and didn’t even see, was so generous without any expectation other than to hope I might do the same for someone else, which I gladly did. The driver behind me got two free cups of coffee and two glazed donuts. It was a little more than I would have paid for my own meal but I didn’t care. I think I was smiling at the office all morning just feeling really good about the world that day. I often wonder how many times that gesture was “paid forward” that morning.
4. While entrenched in rush hour traffic on your way to or from work, let someone into your lane without speeding up or honking your horn. Come on now, you know you’ve done it before. You speed up just a little so that the person trying to merge can’t pull in front of you because you’re in such a hurry and he could just as easily pull in behind you. After all, you were there first! Okay, well, maybe it’s just me, but at least I admit my guilt. And here’s the flip side…if you’re the driver doing the merging….turn on your blinker and wait patiently until someone lets you in. Don’t try to force your car in front of someone else’s because you think your time is more important than theirs. And here’s the really important part…give them “the wave” in the rearview mirror to thank them for letting you in. We all look for it, and we all appreciate it.
5. If you really want to make someone’s day, tell them they’re doing a great job. Far too often, the comments we tend to hear most frequently at work are either a suggestion, a request, or a demand. For once, just be very intentional about telling someone they’re doing a great job. It looks like this: “Hey, you’re doing a great job.” In slow motion that would be, “Heeey….yooooou’re…..dooooing…..aaaa…..greaaaat….job! I bet you still remember the last time someone said that to you.
Well, there you have it. Just a few suggestions on some easy ways to commit a random act of kindness at work that will make others feel good, and most likely make you feel even better. Happy Thanksgiving!