Let’s face it, in a world where being “fierce” and “tough” are often prized, kindness hardly seems in vogue. It’s a shame because kindness can be good for your business, very good.
In the fall of 2017, Oxford University sponsored a campaign called “Sincerely, Kindness,” which encouraged participants around the world to perform acts of kindness each day for seven days. Data from the university researchers revealed that performing those kind acts increased participants’ levels of happiness and life satisfaction.
Research also shows kindness can help your business: Emma Seppälä, PhD, is Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. She has found that when leaders are seen by their team members as more compassionate and kind, employees feel safe and trust levels are elevated. And once trustworthiness is established, employees are more willing to share their ideas and commit to the organization long-term.
Even Shark Tank Billionaire Mark Cuban calls kindness is a hidden secret to success. He says it takes more than work ethic and negotiation skills to be effective in business. “One of the most underrated skills in business right now is being nice. Nice sells,” he said. “I went through my own metamorphosis. Early on in my career, I was like bam, bam, bam—I might curse, get mad. I wouldn’t have wanted to do business with me when I was in my twenties. I had to change, and I did, and it really paid off.”
Science backs Cuban’s discovery that soft skills can boost your career: High levels of emotional intelligence, empathy, and gratitude have been associated with people not only earning more money over their lifetimes but also having more engaged employees. In short, what makes you most valuable is your ability to cooperate with, connect with, and lead others in effective ways.
Below are just nine ways we’ve seen that can help spread a kindness contagion in a workplace:
- Learn about and then ask your team members about their families, pets, hobbies or other things that are important to them.
- Roll up your sleeves and offer to help those who seem under water—especially if you are the boss.
- Treat everyone as if they were the CEO—from the front desk receptionist to the warehouse shipping clerk.
- Be kind to your customers—personally thank them for their orders, for their feedback, and even for their complaints.
- Write at least 3 handwritten thank you notes each week—to employees, colleagues and family members who have helped you. Don’t be vague, but be specific about what they’ve done that makes them rock.
- Leave a sticky note on a colleague’s computer offering encouragement before he/she tackles an important project or task.
- Bring in food. Reward your team with bagels and fruit for breakfast, lunch pizza, or whatever they like. Let them know what you are celebrating.
- Train yourself to think and speak positively by eschewing negative thinking, gossiping, or reacting to difficult news unconstructively.
- Get to know what motivates your people—then take a few minutes to sit down and discuss how you can use that learning to help them be more satisfied in their jobs.