If you’re someone who works in seafarer jobs, you know that life can sometimes be stressful. Weather conditions can be difficult to work in. And sometimes, just sometimes, you have a fellow crew member or officer onboard who you just don’t get along with.
It can be tough dealing with someone who has a negative attitude, or who is bossy or just downright unpleasant. But you don’t have to react to it.
Keep your composure and spirits up whenever you can, and practice kindness and compassion onboard and you’ll soon start to spread your positive vibes from the engine room to the bridge!
November 13th was World Kindness Day, and so we thought this was a great opportunity to look at some ways you can bring a little kindness onboard your vessel.
After all, there’s nothing quite like being known as the seafarer who everyone wants to work with - and who shipping companies and manning agents want to hire again and again for their jobs at sea!
Seafarer jobs and the importance of being kind
Of course, there are plenty of attributes that are important when you’re working on a container or cargo ship.
Mental strength is one - being able to cope with months spent away from home. And of course being physically fit and well is crucial too.
But what about people skills, or soft skills, such as kindness, compassion, the ability to communicate well, and being hard working, productive, punctual and honest.
For any workplace to run smoothly and safely, a lot needs to happen. And that applies to vessels as well as shore based jobs. Whether it’s an oil tanker or an office, all places of work benefit from having a team - or crew - that works well together and is committed to getting the job done.
And respect and kindness have a big part to play.
What is kindness in the workplace?
Kindness in the workplace - even when that workplace is a vessel hundreds of miles offshore - is when you show up for the day, or for your shift, with a positive attitude and a feeling of compassion and helpfulness towards your fellow crew members - regardless of whether they’re above or below you in rank.
How to be kind when working in a seafarer job
Being kind doesn’t have to be hard. You may already see yourself as a kind and caring person but sometimes it helps to have a little reminder of what you can do on a daily basis to make sure that caring nature of yours shows through.
- Smile more!
We’ll start with an easy one: Smiling! You might be a naturally smiley person but if you’re not and you sometimes wonder if you smile enough it can be helpful to take a moment and remind yourself to smile when you walk through that door into the engine room or out onto deck and see your fellow crew.
Smiling demonstrates to others that you are open, want to get to know them and are happy to work alongside them every day.
- Give positive feedback
If you’ve noticed someone on board your vessel has done a good job, particularly if it’s someone who is younger or more inexperienced than you, tell them! Everyone likes positive feedback and it’s a great way to create a positive vibe.
- Help your fellow crew out
By letting the people you work with know that you’re there to lend a hand if they need it, you’re showing kindness. Whether someone is your equal and needs help with a task, or they’re a cadet who would benefit from your knowledge and experience, being of assistance is just a nice thing to do!
- Listen to others
Listening to people shows kindness as it tells them that what they have to say matters. This is especially important when you’re at sea and you spot that someone you work with might be struggling mentally. Ask them if they want to talk, and really listen to what they are saying.
Asides from showing kindness, it goes without saying that listening properly is also crucial when working in a seafarer job so that commands, instructions, explanations and orders are understood.
- Thank those you work with
Saying thank you to someone is such a small thing - but when it’s said with meaning, it means a lot. Being appreciative when the Cook makes a surprise treat or when someone does you a favor will make it more likely that they’ll do the same again. Win win!
- Have proper conversations
It can be so easy to get sucked into your familiar pattern of eat, sleep, shift, repeat that having a real conversation with the people you work with can feel like too much effort.
But put it this way, when you take the time to initiate a conversation it will normally benefit both you and the person you are talking to. You find out more about each other and it will help your relationship onboard grow.
- Show consideration for others
Being considerate is about taking into account the other person’s feelings before you speak or act. Is someone having a hard time onboard? Maybe it’s time to hold back on the teasing and instead see if you can help them out in any way.
Is a Cadet struggling to grasp a concept or instruction? Showing a little consideration and accepting that there was a time that you didn’t know everything you do now and taking a moment to explain it again could be the difference between being a kind person and a dismissive one.
- Give credit where it’s due
If someone you work alongside or above is performing well and you know they’re serious about their career at sea, if you’re in a position to, tell your superior that you think they’re doing a great job.
Singing the praises of someone who genuinely deserves it won’t stop you from getting ahead in your own maritime career, it will make you stand out as a decent person who likes to see others do well too.
- Be the one who brings the fun!
You don’t need us to tell you that working on a ship is hard. You may be tired, you may wish there was a way to get a better night’s sleep, you might just want to crash on your bunk at the end of your shift with a movie but by getting people involved in an activity will show your generous spirit.
Shared movie nights, card games, sports on deck, karaoke, fishing - all of these give everyone onboard a chance to know one another better. And that will help to improve communication, create a positive environment, and make it easier for everyone to work together in what is often a highly stressful job.
Why is this kind? Because it shows you care about the wellbeing of your fellow crew and the productivity and positivity of your vessel.
Seafarer jobs and the importance of being kind: conclusion
World Kindness Day might be over for another year, but being kind all year round will have a positive impact on your own wellbeing, as well as the people around you who are also working long hours in a job at sea.
Being kind costs nothing. Being negative, on the other hand, uses up a lot of energy that would be best used elsewhere!