By Shea Ki
How does the energy feel when you walk into where you do your work? I loved the positive energy of the maintenance and food service crews at my old work building. From their positivity, my day always started on the right foot. I found it interesting that the co-worker next to my office with a higher paying job and health benefits barely said hello to anyone and often grumbled over the coffee being too hot. But as I would pass the minimum wage workers at the cafeteria or see them cleaning up the hallways, they always greeted me with a genuine grin and asked kindly how I was doing.
It never made sense until I figured out that we cannot let our work environment bury our light. The pay rate, those we work with, the cutbacks, and maybe even the person we sit next to are not pieces of our job we always have control over. But we can control how we react and what type of energy we offer out.
Your work environment may be difficult, uncomfortable or completely suck right now. Maybe management is messed up or you don't have the tools or support you need to do your best work. Try not to give up on it until you have tried some positive actions of your own.
I am not advising to stay long in any toxic work environment. But realize that every workplace will have its rocky moments, shortages of resources, dramatic gossipers, or more stressful times. That is common ups and downs. But when managers or other co-workers are treating others poorly or not providing the support you need over a long span of time, start making an escape plan.
If your spirit is being burned out more times than being lifted up at your work, it may be time to look for a better opportunity.
However, if it is more a case of morale being down at the office and you see yourself staying, you can choose to help make it better. It likely will not be easy, but you can make the choice to ignite some positive energy around you.
Here are just a few small and big ideas you could tag others around you to do together or try on your own:
1. Join up to be a force for good with others. Do Something is an organization on a mission with over 5 million young people to "make the world suck less." Invite your office, fellow interns, or work team to look at these campaigns that require little time to do but offer a big meaningful impact.
2. If no one has offered a gesture of kindness at your job in the past 7 days, be the one to make it happen. It can be as simple as bringing in magazines, making a treat for the team or offering to take someone to lunch who you have not had a meal with outside of the workplace before.
3. Do you believe kindness can change the world? Take the idea of Random Acts of Kindness to a whole new level. You and other co-workers ages 14-89 can easily join at least 5,000 others who have signed up to become a "Raktivist"--yes, that's a "Random Acts of Kindness Activist"!
4. Most people only send a rushed, generic email as follow-up to those that helped them with a project or task at work. Take more time to send a caring, genuine thank you note. It will make a difference.
5. Get a ton of research-based ways to promote more satisfaction and engagement for yourself or for your team at work from this Happify infographic or by taking this free happiness at work assessment from Happiness Works.
Kindness, especially during the more stressful times, can go a long way to bringing back the positive vibe at work. Did you know that some companies even measure during the hiring process how the candidate treated others before and after their job interview?
You may consider also talking about these positive activities in your future interviews or discussions with bosses about being promoted. It's best to bring more light to others at your job because it is the right thing to do. However, it is also okay to let others know how you have helped bring positivity to the work environment...and to feel good about it!
Maybe you have already given your work environment plenty of chances and you know it is time to move forward. Or perhaps, like me, you own a small business and meet with others online more than in person. Whether you are working on your job search (with a qualified career coach for best results) or running your own gig, choose to make time to increase the positive vibe at work.
For example, I love going on a break and being that person in the Starbucks or other drive thru who finds out that the person in front of me paid for my order. It's happened to me four times and on days that up until then had not been going so well. I always keep the chain of kindness going and pay for the person behind me since I was taken care of by the person before. It has made tough days turns into brighter days all because someone else cared enough to help the person behind them--without being asked. I recently did this without being prompted by someone paying in front of me and I grin still thinking about it.
Kindness is the type of contagious that is good and can bring out more of the best work in all of us.
YOUR TURN: Share in the comment box below how you have lifted the spirits of others at work or for a friend who is nervous about a job interview. We might not see it, but even the smallest gesture can spark a domino effect of positivity that keeps going and going.
Most of all, believe in yourself. That's positively contagious, too!
About the author: As a holistic career coach, Shea Ki is on a mission at Upgrade My Interview™ to stop the interview struggle by helping people shine in the hot seat. Shea has a Masters in Counseling and Human Development, a certification as a Workforce Development Professional, and has been trained by some of the top experts in the self-development industry on reducing stress and performance anxiety. Shea served in AmeriCorps, worked for non-profits, and then dedicated almost fifteen years as a leader and manager at employment centers coaching jobseekers and career changers while training her staff to do the same.
Shea infuses years of professional training and certifications in mindfulness, Reiki, guided imagery, and other science based, stress-reduction techniques into her interview skills coaching and career support services. Her work has been published in several publications and she has been awarded for her impact on the future workforce. You can often find her career coaching, freelance writing, or tweeting about how to be more at ease and confident when talking about your talents, skills, and qualifications.