Kindness in the workplace: small gestures = great impact

 

How YOU can generate kindness in the workplace

(and brighten someone’s day in five minutes or less!)

One of my ‘Friday jobs’ (as part of life working in internal communications) is to wander around our beautiful big central London building to visit all the different departments, update their staff notices, promote whatever’s going on (official business), and share some gossip (unofficial business).

When I returned to my desk after one such round recently, my boss told me that someone in another area, Ashley, had sent him a really nice email about me.

Ashley specifically emailed my boss to share that I represent my team in a positive way both in person and via phone and email. She made the comment that she thinks it’s important to highlight the good going on around us because it’s too easy to dwell on the negatives.

I share Ashley’s sentiment, and while I make a point to always genuinely thank or compliment friends and colleagues in my own way of generating kindness in the workplace, what struck me about her gesture was that she put herself out there and sent feedback to my manager.

That type of action is thoughtful and really matters. It didn’t just brighten my day, but my week which in all honesty had been long, tiring and reasonably stressful.

It got me thinking, what other ways could we each bring a little kindness into work?

 

4 ways to implement kindness in the workplace today

 

Thank you cards

I have a little stash of thank you cards at work and I hand write a note on one every now and then when I notice someone has gone out of their way for others.

Certainly, I’m no-one special at work – not a senior manager or anything – but that doesn’t matter to the recipient who is always grateful that someone noticed and cared about their efforts.

 

Pay attention to what’s going on around you

We are always so busy and stuck in our own deadlines that it’s easy to miss that others are in the same boat.

Being a little mindful and supportive can go a long way.

A hard-working friend of mine, Isabelle, was run down with a cold recently and she was really touched that a nurturing colleague, Emma, picked up some effervescent vitamin C for her while she was out on her lunch break.

They aren’t even in the same team, but Emma clocked that this could make a difference to Isabelle (who was also about to take a long flight to China to visit her sister), and she was right – this was a nice thing to do, at just the right time.

Similarly, two colleagues I work with this week noticed I seemed to be having a tough afternoon and promptly delivered chocolate to my desk. While I very much enjoyed eating the treats, their thoughtfulness cheered me up (thanks Caroline and Izzy!).

 

Start a gratitude initiative

We have staff noticeboards in all departments at work, and one of our jobs as internal communicators is to use these to build morale and engagement.

We’ve pinned pretty little cloth pouches (jewellery bags I found on eBay) to each board and filled these with coloured cards and pens; staff are encouraged to use these to pin notes on the boards. The messages can be about anything, including events, goods for sale, or praise for co-workers.

More specifically, I’ve pinned up A4 pages that go on the boards blank except for a heading: ‘Thank a colleague who you don’t usually work with who has made a positive difference to you’.

In some departments we’ve ended up with pages of notes from people who have shared messages of thanks (either including their names or anonymously).

When staff see someone’s thanked them in that public space it gives them a nice buzz, and generates wider feelings of happiness throughout the office.

This same concept can be applied using postcards, notes in your internal magazine or newsletters, and on intranet notices, digital thank you cards or conversation threads.

 

A few words go a long way

Finally, taking a lesson from Ashley’s kind gesture, it only takes a moment to email someone a genuine message of praise or gratitude.

Or, be proactive and let someone’s manager know an awesome job is being done – you might be surprised to know how little this happens!

In my experience people often assume things are a ‘given’; that gratitude or compliments are dished out freely (by someone else!). Often they are not.

Yet, countless human resources survey results have revealed that people are much happier and far more productive when they feel appreciated by managers as well as peers.

Imagine the difference that we would all experience at work if each of us took responsibility for implementing just one small kind action for someone else every week.

I’d love to hear about your tips, ideas and experiences around kindness in the workplace… Is it really possible to make an office happier, do you think?

A London day trip to Kent: Broadstairs and Botany Bay

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This week we were supposed to be in Santorini, Greece.

Thanks to a pickpocket in east London, we can’t leave the country because Cooper’s residency card (visa) was lost and needs to be replaced (which can take weeks).

Determined to dip our toes in the ocean just once before ‘summer’ is over, and to console ourselves over Santorini, we booked a day trip to Kent and the English seaside and ended up here in Broadstairs.

 

I’d read a magazine article somewhere about the UK’s prettiest beaches, and Broadstairs was in the list as being ‘most Instagrammable‘ (in other words, great for photos), so I figured the destination would be right up our alley.

Plus, at just an hour and a half from London’s St Pancras (on south eastern railway), this quaint beach-side haven is easily accessible for us.

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Broadstairs is a favourite among families for a summer’s day at the beach, and indeed was reportedly author Charles Dickens’ most loved holiday spot in England.

While we were blessed with sunny weather, I wouldn’t exactly say it was warm on Saturday!

Many dogs and children ran carefree along the beach and there were brave windsurfers and boaties heading out into the great, cold blue. If jumping in for a swim, isn’t your thing (we concur), there’s plenty more to do on a day trip to Kent in and around Broadstairs.

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Top ideas include the Dickens House Museum, The Old Curiosity Shop, Broadstairs’ historical pier and boathouse, Bleak House (built in 1801 and later Dickens’ holiday home) and Admiralty Cottage (1815).

The town offers the curious visitor stories and history around every corner, and helpfully, a self-guided walk has been devised. You can download a map of the Broadstairs Town Trail here, or find out more at the visitor information stand at the entrance to the beach.

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We had ventured to the area for the scenery in particular – Cooper armed with his vlogging equipment and me with my beloved Canon EOS camera.

Broadstairs is part of the Thanet District in Kent, which includes two other major settlements, Margate and Ramsgate, that are both served by trains coming in and out of London.

It’s possible to walk or hike along the coast (being mindful of tide times), to enjoy the seven bays of Broadstairs.

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If you take a look at a map, you’ll see that from the beach at Broadstairs you can wander left and you’ll come across Stone Bay, Joss Gap, Kingsgate Bay and Botany Bay before eventually coming into Margate.

To the right, you’ll discover Viking Bay, Louisa Bay and Dumpton Gap. Actually, further along the coast in this direction you would come to Dover, which means directly across the water is France!

The Viking Coastal Path is a route you can walk along in either direction. There are plenty of signposts showing where you are and also explaining the history of the bays, including smuggling, wartime and shipwreck stories.

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We were destined for Botany Bay this particular weekend.

It took our fancy because it’s of the same name as somewhere very significant in our Australia’s own history; plus the spectacular chalky cliffs were something we wanted to view for ourselves.

Next time we visit, we will head to Ramsgate because the visitor information guide said there are really nice bars and facilities along the waterfront… my interest is piqued.

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The scenery here is very ‘white cliffs of Dover’ style; dramatic and quintessentially English.

The beaches are real, so you can get sand between your toes, happy dogs can run, bark and play; and the air is crisp and fresh. Just what we all need to clear the mind and free the spirit.

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Because we only had a few hours scheduled for our day trip to Kent, we didn’t end up walking from Broadstairs to Botany Bay. Under normal circumstances this would take an hour, but we didn’t have the time to spare so jumped in a cab.

We want to give a shout-out to Broadstairs Taxis because the drivers who helped us were really friendly and informative. Also, they sent a text to our phone to let us know how far away they were – all round good service. And, between one destination to another it was only £5.

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Botany Bay and neighbouring Kingsgate offer picturesque views like the one featured above.

I spotted a wedding shoot taking place on a cliff-top and a music video being shot beneath; a lone wind-surfer enjoying time on the waves and the beaches were pretty and rugged, winding around the coast.

We were rugged up but the visit here was a chance to satisfy a creative longing to video and photograph this country we’ve come to love so much.

Of course, it came time to eat, and we had our sights set on the Botany Bay Hotel, which offers pub-like dining in fine surrounds opposite the ocean at Botany Bay.

The place is really dog friendly (yay!) and quite well priced. If you’re there as we were for lunch, you can’t book, but evening you can reserve a table. You can stay in the hotel too, which is perfectly positioned for anyone who wants to spend more time playing, hiking, writing, photographing or simply being mindful by the sea.

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After a big meal (and maybe a beer), you can walk off any indulgence by heading around the Viking Trail just ten minutes to Kingsgate Bay. You’ll pass a golf range and spot the extremely grand Kingsgate Castle on the cliff overlooking the ocean (pictured above).

It’s now filled with apartments inside but looks really cool from the outside, and views include the sea doorway and white cliffs as pictured above.

If you’re thirsty after this coastal expedition (wandering along the top of the cliffs or walking down to the sea front below), you can pop into Captain Digby Tavern, another cliff-top pub.

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Life certainly is better at the beach, and our day trip to Kent included breathing in the fresh ocean air, patting plenty of puppies, enjoying a pub lunch with a view and feasting on the scenery this coastline offers.

We can’t wait to get back this way, and would highly recommend the easy trip if you want to experience the English seaside but without the hustle and bustle of somewhere bigger like Brighton.

Trip details

Time: about an hour and a half by train to and from King’s Cross in London; we would suggest four to six hours here for a decent day trip.

Cost: our day trip cost around £55 for two return train tickets, £10 in cab fares as we were short on time, but we wanted to take a look along the coast, and £10 each for a nice lunch.

Train booking: we booked our tickets through trainline.com.

Cab: Broadstairs Taxis, phone 01843869999. 

Tourist information: try Visit Thanet or Visit Kent.

 

View more of our adventure on Flickr

England seaside | Kent

Top 11 places to visit in Tokyo

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Tokyo is fascinating, cool and colourful. It’s the most populous city of Japan and is officially called Tokyo Metropolis; founded in 1943 by merging Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo.

Generally Tokyo is mentioned as a city but it is administered as a ‘metropolitan prefecture’ – that is, both city and prefecture.

The city administers 23 special wards of Tokyo – which consists of the place formerly known as the City of Tokyo – and 39 municipalities in the western part of the prefecture.

Tokyo City was ranked first by TripAdviser in terms of “overall travel experience” and it also holds the first position in different categories like “nightlife, shopping, public transportation and cleanliness of streets”.

Despite a massive population, people of Tokyo are extremely polite, and it is considered one of the safest cities in the world which makes it even more pleasurable to visit.

Well-known for being technologically advanced, Tokyo is also rich in cultural heritage and people still value traditions and constructs of their civilisation.

With so much to experience, it’s difficult to know where to begin – here is a starting list of eleven places to visit in Tokyo – a city that will inevitably end up as one of your favourite destinations in the world.

11 places to visit in Tokyo

Sensōji

Situated in Asakusa, this is the largest and oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo and a spot of attraction for most of the locals and foreigners interested in Buddhism or different religions of the world.

The temple is associated with Guan yin, the goddess of mercy and was formerly associated with the Tendai sect which gained independence after World War 2.

Nakamise

Nakamise is the oldest shopping centre in Japan and it is located near Sensoji.

There’s a huge paper lantern here, painted red and black to show thundercloud and lightning, and visitors enjoy browsing the different stalls that sell local souvenirs and snacks.

Meiji Jingu

A Shinto temple dedicated to emperor Meiji and his wife Shoken. The temple has its own rituals to pay tribute to the emperor and to make wishes if one has any.

Rituals include a half bow when entering and leaving the temple, washing your left hand and right hand then left hand again and rinsing your mouth.

At the main shrine building if you want to make a wish, bow and clap twice, make a wish and then bow again.

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Imperial Palace and East Garden

Imperial palace (pictured above) is the residence of the Emperor of Japan and it reflects the political history of Japan.

This palace is not open to the public except on two days which are New Year’s greetings day and the emperor’s birthday (2 January and 23 December respectively). On these two days, imperial figures make public appearances on the balcony.

The imperial gardens are the part of the inner palace and are open to the public.

Tsukiji Fish Market

This is the largest wholesale market of seafood in the whole world. It manages more than 400 categories of sea animals from cheap species to expensive ones, from tiny sardines to 400kg tunas!

The most interesting part of this market is the tuna auction which can be seen in the early hours of the day in two shifts. You’ll need to purchase tickets and they are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

If you want to experience the tuna auction it is advisable to stay near Giza so that you can get a cheap cab early in the morning because no trains are operating at this time. If you are looking for other travel discounts then check out Groupon deals.

Tokyo Skytree

The 634m Tokyo tower is the tallest tower in Japan and is used for television and radio broadcast across the Shinto region.

It comprises of two parts which are the Tembo deck and Tembo gallery, and there’s a shopping centre at the base.

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Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea

A popular park of 115 acres and based on the films produced by Walt Disney, this was also the first Disney theme park outside of United States.

Tokyo Disneysea is the world’s fourth most visited park, inspired by the myths and stories of Disneyland, this park is based on seven ports of call: Mediterranean Harbour, Mystery Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, post-Discovery and American Waterfront.

Kabukicho

This is often called the ‘sleepless town’. The name Kabukicho comes from the desire to build a theatre named Kabuki here back in in 1940.

The theatre was never built because of financial reasons but the name stuck and Kabuki-Cho is a place with lots of hotels, dance clubs and bars; famous for its entertainment spots and Red-Light District.

Ginza

One of the high-end fashion centres in Japan and famous for its costly real estate, Ginza also boasts many of the five-star hotels and entertainment centres of Tokyo.

On weekends the roads are filled with flowing traffic, while in the daytime it is a haven for pedestrians.

Yasukuni Shrine

A shrine dedicated to those who died for a cause and for the emperor of Japan.

This shrine is also famous for a poem written by Emperor Meiji when he visited the shrine in 1874, the lines are:

“I assure those of you who fought and died for your country that your names will live forever at this shrine in Musashino.”

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Hachiko statue

This is one of the most touching and inspiring real-life stories in the world, and is particularly poignant for ‘dog people’.

Hidesaburō Ueno took in this dog as a pet and every day, loyal Hachiko greeted his owner on a nearby train station when he returned from work.

One day Ueno died unexpectedly because of a cerebral haemorrhage. He never came home.

Hachiko waited nine years in the same place for his master to come back, with friends and passers-by in the busy city often stopping with food for the dog.

Eventually, Hachiko became a symbol of loyalty and faithfulness and ended up with his statue being erected in the middle of the bustling city.

 

Do you have Tokyo tips to share? Please add them in the comments section below…