There’s no question that our culture values work, and even more so, success at work. Most of us spend an average of 40+ hours at the office every week, and for a lot of employees, those hours are anything but enjoyable.
According to a recent study, the world today is viewed as 76 percent less kind than it was 10 to 20 years ago. And the workplace is no exception. Office culture can be cutthroat and competitive, leading to hurtful criticism, lack of collaboration, and miscommunication.
Making kindness a priority in workplace communication might help alleviate some of that negativity while improving the overall culture.
“Compassion not only improves workplace culture, but it can also help a company’s bottom line. Cultivating a compassionate environment that strives to reduce hardship and increase relationships serves as a win-win situation for everyone,” says Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author.
Creating this culture of compassionate communication improves employee retention and reduces overall stress. Use these ideas to move toward kinder communication in your organization.
Set the standard with new team members
The way you treat the new-kid-on-the-block can immediately impact your office culture for the better. First impressions establish the way your team will interact and communicate in the future. If you show new team members that your workplace is okay with harsh criticism and over-the-top competition, they’re going to adopt those same habits.
If you communicate with respect and kindness from the start, new team members will adopt those traits. Create a workplace motto that promotes kindness and make it a part of your onboarding process.
Bring kindness to collaboration
Many people don’t like working in teams, which stems from bad experiences when coworkers aren’t held accountable for their contributions. This negative mindset can lead to less-than-kind communication between co-workers in collaborative settings.
To improve kindness, you have to get at the root of the problem: people being held accountable for their work. One simple way to do this is to set weekly progress checks to ensure that teams are jiving. Think of this as a checks and balances meeting: Who is doing what? How are people feeling? What needs to change to make the process more positive and therefore efficient and effective?
When team members feel supported by their leaders and coworkers, they’re more inclined to do the same for others. Slowly, this leads to kinder communication among teams, both in collaboration and in regular conversation.
Require face-to-face communication
Many offices communicate primarily online with apps like Hubgets because it’s more convenient, allows for a quick response, and and is far less distracting. We avoid face-to-face interactions because we’re simply too busy and it’s easier to get in touch instantly.
However, this lack of personal interaction allows us to say things we might never say to someone in face-to-face conversations. Not to mention, without seeing someone’s facial expressions, or hearing inflections in their voice, it’s easy to misread something as rude or offensive. This breeds confusion, hostility, and an overall toxic workplace.
Instead, require all team members to communicate criticism and feedback in person. When you remove the option of passive-aggressive emails or disrupted instant conversations, you’ll notice that team members are naturally kinder to one another.
These are just a few simple ways to bring kindness into office communication. When you’re able to achieve this feat, team members will be happier, and therefore more productive. Make this a priority in your organization and everyone will reap the benefits, including your bottom line.
About the author: Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s been featured on Forbes and has written for sites such as Lifehack, Inman, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter.