According to the Buddhist tradition, karma is the total effect of a person’s actions during successive phases of existence. It assumes that your conduct in this lifetime will influence events and relationships in future lifetimes.
Whether or not you believe in reincarnation, practicing good karma at work can only help you, for most people see the consequences of their behavior play out in this life. How do you do it? The main strategy is to consciously manage your work relationships, which are similar to family relationships in that while we don’t necessarily choose them, we have to make them work as best we can.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to work with the brilliant Stephen Covey. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Covey introduces the concept of the emotional bank account. When the reserve of trust in an account is high because we’ve continually demonstrated goodwill, communication is instant, easy and effective. On the other hand, if we continually show another person disrespect, the trust account diminishes, and the slightest provocation can turn into a relationship incident.
You can keep your work relationships productive and your work karma positive by making routine deposits to your emotional bank accounts. For example:
- Praise superior work and show gratitude when someone does their job well
- Take a sincere interest in the other person and what’s meaningful to him
- Attend to the little things, such as returning a message or acknowledging his birthday
- Deliver on anything and everything you promise
- Remember the names and goings-on of the important people in his life
- Admit and remedy mistakes without placing blame
While not all colleagues will be equally receptive to your overtures (perhaps they have their own karmic issues to work out), 90 percent of the time your efforts will be duly noted and appreciated, and you will be rewarded with greater success.
Alexandra Levit is a Partner at PeopleResults and is passionate about helping people and organizations succeed in the evolving workplace. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @alevit.