Kindness is magic. It can create connections, deflate tense conversations, and open up doors that would otherwise be closed.
That doesn’t mean you always like the people you work with; however, when kindness is a core value, you start from a place of good intention, which can quickly change the dynamic of a relationship or a situation.
Choosing to be kind to someone who gets under your skin at work is a mindset that can change your behavior – this is important to how you appear and sound to others (think sarcasm vs. genuine).
In Rebecca Knight‘s Harvard Business Review article, “How to Develop Empathy for Someone Who Annoys You“, she provides some great tips on how to approach a co-worker with empathy. A good start is to observe and try to understand why the co-worker annoys you in the first place. Is it their communication style, the fact that they are always late to meetings, or disruptive in meetings, or never finish their work on time? “Depersonalize the situation” as Knight quotes. Once you figure out the WHY you are bothered, you can figure out how to approach it.
Along with staying calm, being curious, and focusing on your similarities, Knight focuses on being kind:
“The fact is, “it’s easier for you to be empathetic toward people you like because you give them the benefit of the doubt,” McKee says. When dealing with someone you dislike, you often assume the worst, and that mindset shows up in your behavior. Try to short-circuit that reaction and “do or say something that’s surprising and nice,” McKee adds. Compliment the person on an idea they raised in a meeting, or offer to help out with a project. It shouldn’t be forced, however. “It has to be authentic.”’
Read more in her article to learn from case studies and how to approach kindness: https://hbr.org/2018/04/how-to-develop-empathy-for-someone-who-annoys-you
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