Month: February 2014

8 Ways to be Kind to Your Colleagues

We spend nearly half of our waking hours rubbing elbows in the workplace; there’s bound to be a little friction. Before tempers flair and morale plummets, try a little preventative measure I like to call kindness. Here are a 8 ways to be kind to your colleagues:

1. Help the Newbie
The first few weeks at a new job are often overwhelming, and qualifications mean nothing when you’re head-to-head with a jammed printer and possessed fax machine. Before your new coworker introduces an ax to the jammed printer, offer your assistance. Go beyond fixing the jam to explaining the machine’s–and while your at it some of your office culture’s–quirks.

2. Feed the Soul
The way to your coworkers’ hearts is through their stomachs. If you notice a coworker having a particularly rough day, don’t hesitate to bring him a snack. Coffee, muffins, and donuts are popular choices.

3. Lend an Ear
Sometimes you just gotta vent. Lending your ear to a frustrated coworker and offering constructive feedback can actually increase productivity. Just be careful not to get caught up in a gossip chain.

4. Host a Happy Hour
Invite coworkers to happy hour or after-work social events. Building relationships with the people you work with creates stronger bonds, a team-mentality, and overall job satisfaction.

5. Ask for Help
No matter how many times you’ve been around the cubicle, we could all use a little help from our coworkers. Besides, no one likes a know-it-all. Asking coworkers for help can go a long way in making them feel valuable and like part of a team.

6. Communicate Clearly
Financial guru, Dave Ramsey says, “To be unclear is to be unkind.” Whether you’re a supervisor or a suboordinate, communicate tasks, goals, project details, and expectations with clarity and directness. There’s nothing worse than guess work.

7. Respect Boundaries
I couldn’t write about communication and kindness without talking about boundaries. It should go without saying that you should respect your coworkers’ personal privacy. But don’t forget about the their time–be considerate. If you’re collaborating with a coworker, plan ahead and give advance notice when assigning tasks. Poor planning on your part does not consistute an emergency on your coworkers part–but it will create a lot of tension.

8. Remember the Golden Rule
A short to-do list might come around as often as a two-horned unicorn, but if you’re lucky enough to find yourself with a light load, offer someone a hand. Making copies, organizing files, or conducting research might seem menial, but to the overextended colleague, the gesture is huge. Call it Karma or the Golden Rule, but remember: what goes around comes around.

Look Both Ways

I’m not sure why, but one of my earliest memories is of my mother teaching me to look both ways before crossing the street. Now whenever I drive up to an insection I hear my mom say “Look right. Look left, then look right again.” It’s as if she was trying to tell me, “Lindsey, there’s more than one way to look at things. Look, and then look again. Now what do you see?”

As an editor, it’s my job to look and look again–to create prose with sense and logic and flow. As a writer, it’s my job to look at the world, observe what’s happening on the surface, and then to look harder for cause and meaning. Maybe that’s why faith, and art, and psychology are my main areas of interest–they each focus on the heart of the human experience. They each ask us to dig deeper for meaning. They help us make sense of the seemingly senseless.
There’s an ancient prayer form called the Examen that helps us to see the unseen–God at work in our days. First, we are to become aware of God’s presence. Then, reflect on your day, looking for areas to be grateful–where was God in this day? As you reflect, pay attention to your emotions–what stands out? Who stands out? Why? Look. Look again. Now what do you see? Pray on that thing today; act on it tomorrow. Does your day make just a little more sense?
Today, observe your surroundings. Pay attention to your interactions. Think about what they mean. There’s more than one way to look at things. Look. And then look again. Now what do you see?