A Coimbatore-based octogenarian food stall owner made headlines by refusing to hike the price of her idlis during the lockdown, despite running into losses. Kamalathal, 85, didn’t want her customers, out-of-work labourers, to go hungry. Impressed, a prominent Indian industrialist recently pitched in to help her continue her noble mission.

Kindness has the power to transform mundane work into something more meaningful. Also, it has many scientifically proven wellness benefits: it can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and improve energy and happiness levels.

Here’s how to start a cycle of kindness at your workplace.

  • Cultivate empathy

The opposite of kindness isn’t unkindness; it is indifference. In the daily rush to meet deadlines, patience and empathy are often forgotten. The solution, then, is to pause before you react. See your colleagues not as words on a screen or voices on a phone, but as humans with their aspirations, problems and frailties. Everyone deserves a kind word or gesture every now and then.

  • Be generous with your time and attention

Chat with a colleague you don’t directly work with — someone you often pass in the hallway or a back-office worker you only know from group emails. Be genuinely willing to get to know your co-workers without needing work to be the only connector.

While it is often talked about in the context of disaster or conflict-related trauma, psychological first-aid should also be practised at work. The pandemic has made life tough for many people, driving them towards alcoholism, anxiety, and poorer mental health in general. Be willing to engage with and help people who seem disturbed instead of shunning them. Your intervention could save someone’s health, career — even their life.