Goodness is actually all around

Photography: Daniel Fazzio

Photography: Daniel Fazzio

Written by Carina Parisella

Reading time: 3 minutes

It was R U Ok day in September and it got me thinking about the importance of asking the question not just on that day in September, but as often as we can. It got me thinking about kindness in the workplace.

How many times do people ask ‘how are you going?” but expect the answer to be “good… fine thanks… not bad.” Very rarely do people provide an alternative response. Is this because we’re so used to the same responses and no one wants to mess up the status quo and the expectations of the dominant mainstream society? Or you’re passing by someone in the corridor, you bump into someone in the lift – it just doesn’t feel like the right time to open up and tell someone you’re actually struggling. Or perhaps we feel it’s inappropriate to let that out in the workplace, a lack of trust, not wanting to burden someone, not wanting to show someone you’re vulnerable in a place where you should be strong, professional, and powerful.

We’ve set some really tough and unrealistic expectations for ourselves. And it’s time to disrupt that thinking.

That’s why I love the R U OK Campaign and I adore that we’re openly talking about kindness with Yes Queen.

Asking someone if they’re ok does take courage – and it’s got to be the right time, right place – a safe environment for both of you. And now I’m not talking about just asking ‘hey are you ok?’ I mean, really, really asking ‘are you ok?’ I mean looking into someone’s eyes, whole heartedly, as if your life depended on finding out the answer. Showing someone that you care enough to ask and that you genuinely want to know. And then listen. Listen with your ears and your eyes.

A conversation can change a life.

This is not about having all the answers, solving someone’s problems or acting as a counselor, it’s simply caring enough to ask. And that has the power to change and enable a life.

There’s a bunch of great advice and conversation tips here: Remember, you’ve got what it takes, so follow some simple steps that could change a life today.

Now, knowing when to ask and making kindness part of your daily routine does take a little practice. Like every habit, it takes time to learn and make something routine. As a lover of kindness, I started in a simple way. It has made a significant impact on my life and the lives of others. For example, after performing a kindness, I am filled with adrenalin and that makes me a far more productive and engaged person and contributor in the workplace.

Start Simple

I start my day with 3 genuine compliments. It might be that I have stopped in the kitchen to wash my Frank Green coffee cup and notice a fellow colleague (one that I have never met but keep passing) wearing her hair in a new way. I’ll take a moment to stop and acknowledge how lovely she looks.

I’ll get my cup filled with a latte at my local coffee shop and comment about how in awe I am of my barrister’s creative milk art skills and how when I pop down for my morning coffee, the team working make me laugh and make my day.

I’ll be back upstairs working on a strategy deck and appreciate how slick my team mate has designed a slide and how I want to be him when I grow up. These little compliments go such a long way. They lift me up and brighten someone else’s day.

Now don’t stop with people you know. I’m often seen frequenting local stores, having casual chats with people on the street, taking up someone’s invitation for “free hugs” in the CBD or admiring an eclectic sense of fashion or music.

Here’s another really simple one - give positive feedback more often. As humans, we’re quick to complain when something doesn’t go right but often don’t find the time to commend when things have gone well.

You’ve got so much to give, you’ve just got to stop and smell the roses. Appreciate that goodness is actually all around.

One final tip for today, a little random act of kindness in the office goes a long way too.

My tip for the week: When the day is taking its toll on you, take yourself for a walk to the stationery room, grab a post-it-note and a sharpie and write a beautiful message for a stranger. It might be a quote you love or an affirmation for self-respect and worth. And then go to a vacant meeting room, find a bare kitchen or walk to the bathroom on the other end of the floor and stick up your note where a bunch of people are going to see it. I guarantee, you’ll make at least 1 person smile.

So do yourself and your fellow team-mates a solid and make kindness a habit.