Having spent my entire career in the business world, I’ve noticed that business people often function from a rational and logical perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we adopt irrational or illogical approaches. But what would happen if we consciously added more kindness and compassion to the workplace?
Would your organization be different if you and your colleagues treated each other as human beings, with authentic gestures of support and compassion? In this age of diversity, equity and inclusion, I believe we need to create workplace cultures that hold kindness as a core value.
Kindness is good for business
In her recent book, The Kindness Advantage: Cultivating Compassionate and Connected Children, Dr. Dale Atkins says, “kindness leads to a lot of other good things like compassion, happiness, future success, better relationships, improved self-esteem and good mental and physical health.” While her book is written for parents, there are many lessons we can apply to the workplace.
Meaningful personal connections are both an essential part of a healthy organization and a key to our overall well-being. Research from Oxford University reveals that being kind has a significant effect on our well-being. In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, we are losing the essence of interpersonal connections. Kindness and compassion demonstrate caring, a meaningful behavior that draws us together.
Kindness is contagious
Acts of kindness, no matter how small, communicate that we respect and value each other. Research shows that kindness is contagious. Simply witnessing an act of kindness can inspire more acts of kindness. A Harvard Business Review article suggests, “…the way to unleash kindness in your organization is to treat it like a contagion, and to create the conditions under which everybody catches it.” When kindness is nurtured, it tends to spread.
Creating a culture of kindness
Instill kindness in your workplace culture with deliberate action.
- Practice self-compassion. Kindness starts with you, so be kind to yourself. Quiet your critical, self-judging voice by practicing acts of self-care daily.
- Set a positive example. Leaders and managers can take the lead by practicing just one act of kindness each day. It can be as simple as smiling at someone in the hallway, holding the door for another person or expressing appreciation in an email.
- Practice techniques for compassion and kindness. Meditation programs have been used in many organizations to help boost individual focus, enhance productivity, lessen self-judgment and increase self-compassion.
- Connect kindness to the purpose of the organization. Fostering a culture of kindness gives employees pride in their workplace.
- Create community volunteer opportunities. Giving employees an organized way to give back to the community not only makes them feel good, it connects them with their colleagues and the community benefits.
Caution: side effects likely
Creating a culture of kindness needs to be approached with caution. There are numerous side effects to consider, such as increased optimism, reduced stress, and lowered anxiety.
Choose kindness today.