Practicing Generosity at Work
I recently celebrated my 1-year workiversary at Charitable Impact, an online giving platform. Suffice to say: Generosity is at the heart of what we do.
Looking back at the past year as someone who works in tech, it is one that’s been heightened by unique factors like navigating a fully remote work environment and, oh right, experiencing the realities of a raging pandemic together. In a year when a lot has been taken away from us, the optimist in me decided to shift my gaze; to instead, focus on what’s been given and received. I was moved to reflect on what generosity means to me, what it can look like in the workplace, and how to intentionally act on it day-to-day.
The notion of being generous with our “time, talent, and treasure” has reverberated through the (virtual) office walls ever since I started working here. It is one that I’ve seen modelled by my colleagues every single day, in ways both big and small. Following this notion, here are some prompts which I myself try to bear in mind, along with some ideas on how you can think about and actively practice generosity at work more habitually.
How am I being generous with my time?
Lighten the load
From back to back meetings to hitting aggressive targets and deadlines, it’s important to take a beat and come up for air before diving into the next task at hand. When the dust settles and if bandwidth permits, why not see if you can afford to use any extra time leftover to help out someone on your team? What’s one small thing can you take off of someone else’s plate today?
Be kinder than necessary
What I am so grateful for while working from home is the fresh new empathetic lens through which I can see my colleagues; an intimate window into their personal lives and unique circumstances. It’s been a sobering reminder that there is indeed life outside 9–5 and everywhere in between. We’re all a hot mess just trying our best to manage.
Picture this: Is your colleague–who has a kid in online school, with a full house and two dogs running around, hastily scarfing down a last-minute meal because they forgot to eat lunch–running two minutes late to your meeting? Take a deep breath, and exhale a sense of compassion.
Being mindful of other people’s time is important. To me, punctuality is a sign of respect. That said, being extra gracious, patient and understanding–especially during these times–can go a long way.
Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.
Did a meeting you booked for 30 minutes only take you 20? Efficiency for the win! Give everyone back their 10 precious minutes :) Mind the time you give, and take.
Connect with intention
Staying connected with colleagues in a virtual environment can be a real challenge, and is one that’s been accentuated through navigating remote workplaces. Carve out time for genuine connection and embrace small talk or banter, if only for a couple moments at the start of a meeting, before diving into ‘business as usual’ mode. Make every micro-interaction and conversation count. Don’t hesitate to reach out and be the first to say hello — it just might make someone’s day a little brighter.
How am I being generous with my talents?
Show ’em what you got
Always remember that you belong to your particular team, at your particular company, in this particular season, for good reason. One (of many) is because of the unique set of skills, and the value that you bring to the table. Flex on your strengths and passions. Offer creative solutions for complex problems we are collectively trying to solve, and contribute innovative approaches to reach lofty goals we are all working towards. Shake what your mama gave ya!
Lean into ‘extracurriculars’
Do you see any opportunities to lend your talents and expertise to things that go beyond your primary role? Perhaps there’s a special project, initiative, or committee just itching to have you contribute to in some capacity. While you may not get a participation ribbon, rest knowing that any small effort towards something bigger than yourself really matters and truly goes a long way.
How am I being generous with my *treasures?
*I consider ‘treasures’ figuratively here; synonymous to ‘wealth’ in a broader sense (i.e., that of knowledge and experience)
Share the wealth
Are you someone who holds a position of power? If yes, how exactly are you harnessing that power? Consider using your status to uplift, champion, and empower others — perhaps those who are just starting out or those trying to take their personal development goals to the next level.
Have you accumulated a wealth of information, being a subject matter expert or seasoned pro in your respective industry? If yes, where are you storing all that information? Disperse it and let it out! Seek (or make) opportunities to share such wealth of knowledge through volunteering to lead internal workshops or lunch’n’learns. Or, simply keep an ‘open door policy’ and welcome others to “borrow your brain”. Consider acting as a mentor to peers looking for expert advice. Guidance and support can come in many forms.
Give people what they deserve, not what they expect.
A lasting impact
Amidst this pandemic, one silver lining I’ve noticed is that it has stirred a certain air of gentleness, compassion and care. This season has opened my eyes to what acts of generosity can look like moment-to-moment within various contexts, including work. My hope is that we may continue to foster and cultivate this sense of lovingkindness in a way that endures well past the end of this pandemic, extending far beyond the four walls of the workplace.
Anneliese Herbosa is a UX Writer for Charitable Impact, a fintech company in the Canadian charity sector. She is generous in distributing virtual hugs (or fist bumps if that’s more your speed), showering you with words of encouragement, and giving you the benefit of the doubt.
P.S. Bits and pieces of this article first appeared in Issue #11 of my monthly(-ish) personal newsletter. If you dig reflections on self awareness and self-improvement, please consider subscribing. Thanks for reading!