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What goes around comes around: A sparkling lesson at kindness in the workplace

There’s an unwritten rule in our job descriptions that we need to embrace - for success is not just about salaries and designations. There’s a different kind of win we should all be striving for…

Many of us spend many of our waking hours in the workplace, where we strive to excel at our jobs, climb various ladders and try to be better than others to get promoted. Our offer letters and job descriptions mostly lay out the terms and conditions of our employment – from the cleaner to the CEO we must operate at our professional best. However, amidst the aspirations of our lives and careers there’s this unwritten rule that we tend to ignore. It took me a long time to realize this great truth and now I try to practice it regardless of whether I am at work or play.

I remember in the early stages of my career when a boss fired me for asking the tiniest raise after working a year of long days with no weekends and little resource. I felt it most keenly when a group of colleagues ganged up on me and no one spoke up for me. I experienced the bitterness of it when a business failed, and no one offered comfort. I understood it when those I had helped get ahead stabbed me in the back, and when seniors took credit for the work I did. I crumbled under it when a junior snitched on me and got me into unprecedented trouble.

We’ve all been there, and this is the unwritten rule, the golden principle, of every job description. Make life a little easier for others around you!

Check your ego at the door, park your selfishness outside the building and walk in ready to help not just your organization, but also your colleagues. Praise a good idea even if it is not yours, own up to mistakes rather than passing the buck. Be the boss that recognizes effort as well as results and makes coffee for his or her subordinates. Be the woman that sticks up for another woman. Be the man that calls out office bullying and politics. Don’t forget to thank the door man and ask after his family. Take on extra work so the new dad can go home early. If you have taken favors, return them. Stop gossip in its tracks by letting rumours and information stay within you. Acknowledge publicly someone else’s contribution to your growth and success…

You don’t have to like everyone you work with, and they don’t have to like you. But you can be pleasant and gracious; it costs you nothing. Someday that junior you were nice to will be the CEO of a company that your child is looking to intern at. Someday your colleague may be in position to offer you investment in your startup. It’s a slow burn but it always pays to be nice.

The workplace offers us opportunities to practice personal grace. Yes, I grant you, it may not get you promotions or pay hikes in the short term. But you will reap benefits in other important ways.

The unwritten rule offers great scope for personal growth and in the dog-eat-dog world of corporate life, the universe offers you chance after chance to truly make the world a kinder place. And so, in the words of that ultimate organizational leader, Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise – I encourage you to make it so!

Sangeetha Shinde Tee is an author of four books, editor of 3 international magazines, an acclaimed healer, and reluctant entrepreneur. Also an unconventional traveler, rebellious truth seeker, and inveterate animal rescuer, she is working on her fifth book – a collection of ghost stories from around the world. Find out more about her life, books, and work at

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