Unconditional kindness, caring, and respect
If our work world was a video game, the three measures of the health of a character should be unconditional kindness, caring, and respect. I say and really mean unconditional, because these three should not come with strings attached; they should not be dependent on moods, on how we perceive someone, influenced by our last interaction with someone else, personality clashes, or based on their performance.
Start each relationship with full tanks of kindness, respect, and caring, and give them away generously. Don't make people feel they have to earn or work for them. Every person deserves these unconditionally as a basic foundation of human interaction.
If you've been working for a while, you might have come across a less-than ideal coworker who doesn't pull their weight on a project, a colleague who takes credit for your work, a person whose negativity sucks the energy out of the entire workplace, a boss who makes you feel like you won't ever be good enough. You might have seen situations escalate and relationships break down because respect, caring, or kindness (sometimes all three) were withheld. If you start with empty tanks and experience a relationship breakdown, how do you even go in the positive?
If we make people feel they have to earn our respect, caring, or kindness, how do we expect them to be secure, confident, and high-performing? Create the conditions you want to thrive in, the conditions you want your coworkers, bosses, and employees to thrive in. Be intentional about building good relationships and start by offering everyone unconditional kindness, caring, and respect. Our collective wellbeing might just depend on it.