50 Ways To Kindness At Work

September 30, 2013 — 4 Comments

If we don’t lead with kindness, who will?

S. Max Brown

S. Max Brown makes a good point.  Let’s meet his challenge and raise our hands.  Let’s bring on kindness at work!

With so many hours of our adult lives spent at work, we would all welcome more kindness, but how to do it?

Implement Those Sandbox Rules To Encourage Kindness at Work

There’s Leadership Wisdom in Those Sandbox Rules!
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Many years ago, our executive leadership and HR rolled out the sandbox campaign. We didn’t realize the good leadership wisdom contained on those wallet-carrying-sized cards sent with fanfare to all employees. We threw the cards away or those of us who were more politically-savvy displayed the cards on our desks, becoming dusty and forgotten until replaced with the next employee engagement initiative.

Laminated on the cards were these simple rules:

  • Throwing sand is never OK.
  • Being mean will eventually result in you playing, unhappily, on your own.
  • No taking of other peoples buckets without asking
  • No kicking or breaking other peoples sandcastles
  • Playing nice with others is best.

If we had only embraced those rules!

We do have a second chance. You have a second chance. Did you catch the HuffPost Healthy Living article about the advice from sage third graders (!) on how to ripple kindness throughout the world? I’m gathering inspiration from them.

How about you?

Would you be willing to apply these 50 ideas for kindness from third graders at your place of work?

Try a few today. See the difference manifest in your work world and then try a few more. Note: Words in brackets [ ] are my additions.

1. Smile at a stranger.

2. Say thank you to the bus driver. […or your project manager]

3. Help someone carry her heavy groceries. [What’s on our plates at work can be heavy if we have to do it alone.]

4. Hold the door open for someone else.

Kindness #5. Leave a kind note for someone whom you usually don't get along with.

A kind note is always appreciated!
Image courtesy of gubgib at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5. Leave a kind note for someone whom you usually don’t get along with.

6. Give your Mom a hug and tell her you appreciate her. [How about a hug for your mentor?]

7. Sing a song to your teacher! [Early in my career, I worked in the “pit”, a communal room full of programmers. We, in the pit, would break out in a pop tune, changing the words to suit our situation. What an energy changer ~ even with songs sung on the dark side! What a relief from the dreariness of the pit.]

8. Let someone else choose the game and play it — even if you don’t like it.

9. Let someone else have a seat on the bus or subway. [Encourage someone else to sit in the good seat at the meeting and let them be heard.]

10. Say hello to the security guards and thank them for keeping you safe. [We had a fabulous team at our Austin Technology Center! Should’ve said thank you more often! Thank you, Ronnie Livingston and the Security Team, plus your SysAdmin & Facilities Team, for all that you did!!]

11. Leave happiness notes on the apartment doors of your neighbors. [or in the cubicles of your teammates.]

12. Leave a thank you note to the cleaners, thanking him for keeping your place so tidy. [Those who keep the company kitchens and bathrooms clean are blessings!]

13. Give a homeless person a smile and a piece of fruit. [Volunteering together fosters closeness!]

14. If you see someone (even a stranger) who looks nice, tell them!

15. Say thank you to someone who makes your life easier.

16. Look for someone who seems lonely and invite her to play.

17. Invite someone new to eat lunch at your table.

18. Draw a nice picture for someone and leave it as a surprise! [If you don’t feel confident about your drawing skills, buy a card and handwrite a nice note instead.]

19. Read a book to a child. [Share books at work, start a free-exchange library or book club. Reading together gives you insights into each other.]

Kindness #20. Help someone who seems to be having a hard time with his work

Reach out and help someone who seems to be having a hard time with his work.
Image courtesy of Theeradech Sanin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

20. Help someone who seems to be having a hard time with his work.

21. Clean up after someone without telling her.

22. Give the secretary a flower from your garden. [Admins deserve a shoutout and not just on Admin Day! To Pamela Tsukamoto, you made all the difference with your gracious caring and organization — appreciating you still! ]

23. Give someone a sticker! The smelly ones are the BEST. [I would caution against the smelly ones at work. 🙂 ]

24. Seek to understand someone else’s point of view.

25. Use kind words when talking to others.

26. Use kind words when talking about yourself.

27. Forgive someone who has done wrong — even without their asking.

28. Be patient with others.

Kindness #29. Donate time, money, and supplies to an organization in need.

Managers: Have you thought about donating part of your budget to a peer organization in need?! Sharing is caring.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

29. Donate time, money, and supplies to an organization in need. [Managers: Have you thought about donating part of your budget to a peer organization in need?! Sharing is caring.]

30. Respect the feelings of others

31. Know that different is good.

32. Praise someone for being brave enough to be different.

33. Listen to someone else when they are talking and ask questions so you can better understand them.

34. Ask someone how they are — and really listen to the answer.

35. Say please when you ask for something. Say thank you when you get it.

36. Try to make someone else laugh.

37. Make someone who is sad smile.

38. Don’t fight with your sister — help her instead! [or with your teammate or client.]

39. Turn off the lights when you don’t need them.

40. Recycle when you can.

Kindness 41. 41. Share your favorite toys with someone.

Share your favorite toys with someone at work! And don’t forget to share your tips, too.
Image courtesy of blackstock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

41. Share your favorite toys with someone.

42. Even if you don’t have a lot, share your cookies with someone who doesn’t have a snack.

43. Encourage someone when he is playing soccer, or running a marathon, or trying something new! […like taking on that new assignment or new position.]

44. If your friend is injured, take them to the nurse and help them to feel better.

45. Stand up for someone who is being picked on.

46. Remember to have fun with people!

47. If your friend is nervous, give them confidence!

48. Play cards or football with someone. [All work and no play… well, you know the rest of that quote.]

49. Be a good loser and a good winner.

50. Hug the people you love, and tell them you love them every day.


#50 is my favorite.  @bobse_tweet taught me how to hug at work (thank you, Bobse!) ~ and in his Twitter Bio, he reminds us that:


“Love isn’t, until it moves you to action!”

Kindness #50. Hug the people you love, and tell them you love them every day.

Kindness Happens When You Make It Happen!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


How will you spread kindness at your work place today?

Please do tell in the comments. Then go and…

#TakeThisMoment and be kind at work! ~ Jackie Yun


p.s.  If you’re inspired by the actions in this post, please see #ThreeWords for Your Valentine.

4 responses to 50 Ways To Kindness At Work

  1. Hi Jackie,

    Thank you for creating and sharing such an inspiring and lovely list of so many different ways we can show kindness at work!

    I will definitely be printing your blog post out and hanging it up in front of my desk 🙂

    Thinking of kindness and its importance to our lives [it enhances our lives and our relationships], the following 3 quotes come to mind:

    “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

    “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

    “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


    • Good morning, Dorlee!

      Happy that you’re inspired to action by the post. Aren’t those third graders amazing? Cliched, but so true there are things that we learned in our youth that we need to remember as our life unfolds.

      Love the quotes you shared! Here’s one from The Peace and Love Train that I hope you’ll like: “Kindness, the most valuable gift you will give anyone”. And that leads me to say “thank you” to you, Dorlee, for your continued gift of kindness to me.


  2. Hi Jackie,

    You already know that I love the idea of breaking into song (even if you can’t sing that well). It’s a great way to bond and have fun, at the same time.

    I also like that you emphasize being a good loser, as well as a good winner. Something that needs to be modelled and taught by the pros, all the way down to the toddlers.

    After I read your 50, I went back to my post to see if we shared any common suggestions. I see we both are “door holders”. 🙂 (http://auntiestress.com/2012/09/28/eighteen-easy-ways-to-be-kind/)

    It’s always a joy to read your posts,


    • Hello Marianna,

      You and those third graders know how to do kindness right. In regard to “door holders”: ~~~~> What if each of us thought of ourselves as the “door holders” to kindness? 🙂

      My two takeaways from your post are:

      – Practicing kindness diligently and consistently is easier than we may think.
      – Kindness to others is a kindness to them, yet also a kindness to ourselves. And a kindness to ourselves can even mean a boost to our immune system. What a gift!

      Given your penchant for “breaking into song”, may I break into one myself and “sing” it to you via Natalie Merchant? Her song is “Kind and Generous”, which you are very much so!


      Appreciating you & Much thanks,

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