Kindness at Work

I’ve put in more than my share of time in hospitals.

Not to the level of someone with a chronic or debilitating illness, thank goodness, or even someone with a family member with significant health challenges.

But I’m more comfortable than most people in places where the majority of employees wear scrubs or lab coats.

I grew up as a hospital department head’s kid, I’ve been a patient for two brief inpatient stays and countless outpatient procedures, and now I’m a caregiver for that former department head, which means lots of time in health care institutions.

My first job out of business school was in a hospital, too, where I coordinated the launch of a system-wide guest relations program, way back when “hospital” and “marketing” were just starting to show up in the same sentence.

My standard for workplace civility in health care institutions is pretty high, and it delights me that the folks in my local hospital routinely exceed even my high expectations.

During a recent visit, though, I was blown away.

  • The barista who went out of her way to rearrange tables for a group of nurses arriving for their morning break, smiling and chatting the whole time.
  • The lab tech who deftly stuck his foot out to hold the elevator door, stepping away to resume his trip in the other direction so elegantly once my mom and I were safely inside, it was as if his moves were choreographed.
  • The genuine, warm, and thoroughly appropriate small talk between a delivery person and a physician in that same elevator.

Which got me to thinking.

Many of those employees routinely deal with work-related stress that most of us can barely comprehend.

And not just life or death in the ER or OR either.

And, if we’re scared of what’s going to happen to our health insurance, they’ve got that, too, plus concern for their very livelihoods.

It’s not like the Philly suburbs are this Neverland-type bubble, either.

Just days before my recent hospital visit, a young woman was killed in a horrible act of road rage just a few miles away, and we’re famous for going out of our way to hold the door for you at the Wawa, but look out in the parking lot, because we’ll flip you off for getting in our way as quick as looking at you. (So I’ve heard.)

And yet in this organization, people are consistently friendly and kind to one another, in a way that feels both professional and genuine without ever crossing over into cloying or phony.

Pleasantries in the workplace might seem trivial, but when it’s where so many of us spend the majority of our waking hours, they go a long way in amping up the civility within the organization and in the world.

Which has me thinking some more.

About expanding that civility and kindness to other workplaces.

And into the world.

We’re facing tough times in our country. And in our world.

Times that, for me, make the kind of workplace civility I experienced at the hospital the other day all the more appreciated.

And important, both at work and throughout our lives.


image: Pixabay; used with permission

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