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Intentional Acts of Kindness: Practicing Throughout Your Career

Intentional Acts of Kindness: Practicing Throughout Your Career

You’re stressed beyond measure at work – toiling away on the umpteenth iteration of a new campaign, racing the clock to get a grant proposal in, or working overtime to iron out a distribution snafu – and then a colleague sets aside their own project to pitch in on yours. Or a friend, who’s been through something similar, picks up the phone to share advice, and everything changes for the better.

A kindness has been paid, and it can turn things from chaos to calm, from anxiety to reassurance, from “Everything’s going all wrong” to “Everything’s going to be all right.” These days, we need kindness in the world more than ever – especially when it comes to our working lives.

While it may be a natural inclination to share kindnesses with others, it can also be helpful to be reminded that even simple gestures go a long way in making a difference. Here are three ideas for spreading kindness throughout your professional world.

Show interest.

One of the greatest gifts you can give is your attention. Taking time to check in with work associates – just asking how they’re doing and listening – is a wonderful way to share a kindness.

I have a long-distance colleague who does well-being check-ins. She’ll send me gentle texts asking if I’ve taken the time to take a deep breath, share a laugh, or step away from my desk. She regularly reminds me that self-care is important, and I’m so grateful. I’m touched that she takes time out of her day to show such compassion.

[Related: Authenticity and Vulnerability at Work: Walking the Tightrope]

Connect, connect, connect.

Offering those in your circle the opportunity to make new professional connections is a tremendous kindness you can share. Introducing associates to someone new in your network through live events, or via LinkedIn or e-mail introduction, can be instrumental in helping them move forward on their professional paths.

I wouldn’t be where I am in my career today without the connections and resources offered to me along the way, and it’s gratifying, to say the least, to help others in the same way. If there’s a job posting, podcast, book, or article I think would benefit a colleague, I love passing it along.

[Related: Empathetic Leadership and its Path to the Power Table]

Express gratitude.

I recently received a note from a colleague simply expressing her appreciation for our work together. The note was hand-written, from the heart, and it touched me deeply. Saying "Thank you" is so easy to do, and it has the power to absolutely make a person’s day.

Kindness has the power to change the dynamic of a situation - to shift negative energy to positive - and it all starts by doing for yourself what you would do for others. I encourage you to practice self-kindness and then spread the gift to others in your professional sphere. If love is what makes the world go round, then kindness is the propellant!

[Related: How to Thrive at Work as a Sensitive Person]


Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" (now in the 2nd edition) and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career & Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Ellevate Network, Medium, and The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana. Her online show: Thrive! about career and life empowerment for women is on YouTube. Caroline hosts the award-winning podcast, Your Working Life, on iTunes and SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.

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