Try a Little Tenderness

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By Dr. Sabrina Brandon Ricks, SBR Workplace Leadership Services

Between dealing with the aftermath of Covid-19 and the start of the Israel-Hamas war this year, there have been higher levels of stress, anxiety, and tension in the workplace and beyond.  As we enter the holiday season, this article serves as a reminder that a little tenderness may be warranted as we interact with one another and understand the struggles and challenges one may be facing.  Here are a few areas to energize the workplace with the mindfulness of tenderness and kindness in daily interactions:


There are bound to have been goals for 2023 that your team has met and hopefully exceeded.  Take the time to acknowledge and highlight those stars in the organization who helped your team meet and/or exceed goals.  You might provide a certificate, plaque, trophy, parking space, gift card, meal, or some other token to acknowledge the accomplishment.  There are always ways to celebrate your employees.


Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White have shared many tips for showing appreciation in the workplace from their book The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.  According to Chapman and White, employers should consider what your employees may appreciate and then take action with words of affirmation, quality time, tangible gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.  You may be surprised to learn that showing appreciation can increase the production of your employees and improve attitudes and moods for everyone.

Setting Goals for 2024

As we prepare for 2024, sit down with your team and create team goals to reach in the new year.  You will also want to create individual goals for each team member to contribute in their own way.  Goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  Ensure everyone is aware of the goals and are held accountable for reaching their personal expectations.

Leniency and Empathy

You or your employees may face many different challenges during this time of year.  Consider offering a little leniency when it comes to certain requirements and deadlines.  If you can offer a bit of flexibility, then do so.  If you cannot, be sure that is made clear so that the expectation is met and there are no misunderstandings or miscommunication.

Additionally, keep empathy at the forefront of your interactions with others.  It can be easier to understand what someone is going through if we can try to put ourselves in their shoes and see what it may feel like.  Take notice to how others express they are feeling and respond to that feeling.  Start your responses to colleagues with “I understand how you could feel…”.   This is the start to displaying empathy and can make your colleagues feel validated and heard.

Although no workplace is perfect, it could certainly be more comfortable and satisfying if we incorporate the components aforementioned.  Trying a little tenderness can go a long way with the employee who has been having a really rough time and their life may seem upside down.  The energy you exude also is reflected back to you so when you show tenderness to others, that same behavior will be shown to you.  You never know just when you may need it.  The more we exemplify these behaviors daily, the more likely they will become habit and be natural in our day-to-day interactions.

Contact SBR Workplace Leadership Services for additional training topics related to tenderness in the workplace. Also, contact SBR if you need a consultant to design customized sessions for your organization regarding other topics.  As we plan for 2024, this is the perfect time to get trainings and workshops on your schedule for the year.



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