Mixing kindness into your workscape

A young African woman sits in front a computer screen with her hands crossing her heart as she has an online conversation with an unseen person.

Growing or developing in a work context is usually about skill and performance of vocational ability. How about extending this attention to emotional or psycho-social ability, like the character and practice of kindness?  How might you mix a cocktail of work activity with a strong serving of kindness?

Setting your intentions

It starts with intention. As the sovereign of your workscape, do you solemnly swear to … well – you don’t have to get that formal! Organisations state their beliefs and intentions for important things in policies. You too can compose and activate a policy for your  Self unLimited workscape. And here’s a handy canvas for creating a workscape policy (PDF) for any matter.

In Episode 50 of the Stories of the Brave podcast series, Ali Farajala (SU Ambassador) and I muse on what we believe about kindness, and our starting intentions. This was the first step for each of us in creating our personal workscape policies for the matter of kindness.

But it is not enough to think about and write a policy – the practice of kindness needs action. The actions you might choose can be broad, or very specific to different contexts. You choose actions that are within your capability and resources to follow through on, and that align to your beliefs and intentions about kindness.

Choosing your strategies

Here are strategies (also known as broad action) for how an individual can be an example and a contagion for the practice of kindness. And you don’t need to write a policy to adopt any of these!

  1. Imagine a kinder workplace and set out to intentionally create it. This is a task where individuals can be leaders in all the workplaces that intersect with their personal workscape. Kindness has to be believed to be seen.
  2. Cultivate a community around kindness theme. Good attitudes spread. Give the kindness ‘infection’ a host environment where it can incubate and spread. Provide a place and time for people to commune with you in kindness. Create safe spaces for yourself and others to inhabit when there has been lack of kindness.
  3. Foster conversation. Find ways to introduce kindness into the conversation. Ask questions like: What is the kind thing to say here? What is the kind response? How can I speak kindly?
  4. Tell stories of kindness. Find the small everyday deeds and tell others. It’s content for the conversations and ‘infectious’ material. It fuels the imagination of others. Share these in all parts of your workscape.
  5. Design for kindness. In every action consider, what is the kind thing to do? How can I make this a kinder experience for others? Make kindness a fundamental ‘design’ principle for regular processes you apply, activities you lead, meetings you attend and even messages that you write.
  6. Overwhelm the negative. It can take three positive actions to overcome a negative action. Don’t let a negative action go unattended without overwhelming it with at least one kindness response. Make this an imperative for everyday.
  7. Forgive and learn. Create conditions where it’s okay to make a mistake; and where mistakes are always an opportunity for learning. Be the type of person that forgives mistakes and helps with the learning. And don’t forget to forgive yourself.
  8. Be disciplined. Be mindful and purposeful about developing the habit of practicing kindness. Discipline and regular practice creates results. Kindness is not a soft option; an attitude of kindness is sure to be tested in trying circumstances. Know what you will do or who you want to be in a crisis before the crisis hits.
  9. Catalyse goodwill. One way to show goodwill is to be thankful, and to say, “Thanks!”. A kind word can create goodwill that immunises against future unkind acts.
  10. Make socially active connections. Partner with others outside your workscape in doing kindness and promoting kindness. Work with others worthy of your socially responsible activity. Leverage the events and campaigns of organisations like World Kindness Day (13 November) led by World Kindness Movement.


May these ideas get you mixing up a potent cocktail of kindness in your workscape.


What ideas can you add to the list for mixing work with kindness? Please share in the comments below.



Helen Palmer, Founder of Self unLimited, has been in many work situations where kindness – or the lack thereof – has had a big impact on others. In order to be the change she wants to see in the world, she shares what she is doing to be intentionally kind at work, and shape a workscape that integrates a practice of kindness.


Photo Credit: iStock