Sometimes it’s the little things that matter. A smile, a thank you. Waving to your neighbor or holding the door open for someone at the office. Sometimes a little act can make a difference in someone else’s day.
In that spirit, I wanted to share a few stories of things that have happened in my office that remind me that small kindnesses are alive and well.
On a recent Friday, I just couldn’t sit still at my desk. I have ADD, and while I’m usually okay at managing it, some days I have to fidget to focus. It’s just the way I am. And it’s a lot easier to fidget when I’m standing then when I’m sitting. One of my co-workers was not in that day, so I decided to “invade” his standing desk. I did the same thing early the next week when he was working from home. Once he was back in the office, I thanked him for letting me use his desk, and he said I was welcome to use it any time he isn’t in the office.
It doesn’t sound like much — someone who isn’t there saying it’s okay to use their vacant desk — but that little act of kindness brightened my day and reminded me that the people in my office do genuinely want me to be comfortable there.
My first major project at my current job was one that I shared with a coworker. We finished most of the work, and I moved on to another project, while he worked with our DevOps team to get the project into our CI/CD pipeline — which meant setting it up in a Docker container. Which apparently was not very easy.
Now I’m working on a different project (a solo project this time), and I know that eventually I will likely have to deal with the same Docker situation. Having seen my co-worker go through a lot of struggles with Docker, I was very nervous about having to learn Docker and set all that up. When I expressed this to my co-worker, his response was simple — “I’ll help you with it.” Because even though he had his own work to do, he was willing to spend a little time helping me with the things he had already figured out so that I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
One day I got a Slack message from a UX designer who sits near me in the office. We had a conversation about the office and how easy it is to go through the day without talking to anyone and only communicating with your computer. She invited me to join her for lunch sometime. I haven’t taken her up on the offer yet, but the fact that she noticed that I was keeping to myself a lot and invited me to join her really meant a lot.
I do my best to add some kindness into the workplace too. I like to make it known that I keep chocolate on my desk. While I certainly eat some (/a lot) of that chocolate, that’s not why it’s there. I know that sometimes work can be stressful, and sometimes you need a pick-me-up at work. So I decided that I want to be the person who provides that pick-me-up for my coworkers — so I provide chocolate for anyone who needs a little sugar or brightness in their day.
Small acts of kindness can go a long way in the workplace (or anywhere else). Every so often I like to sit down and remember those acts of kindness and know that at the end of the day, the smallest things mean the most.