Is Kindness Too Soft to Matter in Business?

Be Kind, Be Helpful. 

Is this business advice?

This is advice given by Barack Obama to his daughters. It seems to be very simple but how many of us actually practise this every day at work, and does it matter if we do or not?
Christine Porath, a US University professor, has spent twenty years studying civility at work and the cost of incivility.  Writing in the New York Times she highlights how we treat each other at work really matters:  ‘‘Insensitive interactions have a way of whittling away at people’s heath, performance and souls.’’  ”Immune systems can pay a price”,  she also cites evidence from her research to support this:

”People working in an uncivil environment miss information that is right in front of them.  They are no longer able to process it as well or as efficiently. Performance drops by up to 30% in an uncivil environment.”

”66% said that their performance declined when their manager was not civil.”

From our own research we know that 80% of our clients have a personal value around kindness.  Behaviour matters for Managers and Leaders – does business today incorporate civility and kindness in their culture or values or actively encourage such positive behaviour?
Our research also shows that most of us are so focussed on the technical aspects of what we do that we forget to help others,  and forget to ask for help when we need it.
Porarth has also identified that incivility and lack of kindness can grow out of ignorance, not malice – following a perceived ‘culture’ or from a lack of self-awareness.

We all instinctively know the importance of mutual kindness and there is compelling evidence, from research Porath has cited, to prove that kindness at work has a powerful impact:

”The more the individual was perceived as civil by others in his or her network, the better his or her performance.”

”People who are civil were perceived as warm and competent.”

”Those seen as civil were twice as likely to be viewed as leaders.”

”Employees who say they have more supportive supervisors are 1.3 times as likely to stay with the organization.”

”People who said leaders treated them with respect were 55% more engaged.”

”People who perceived a colleague as civil would be more likely to seek that person out for work advice and to see that person as a leader.”

Helpfulness and kindness shows others that you like them, driving acceptance, motivation and engagement – and ultimately not only a happier workplace but also a more productive one.
smile
 

Here are some tips to spread kindness everyday:

  • Would you want to work with you? Be more conscious of your behaviour every day and the impact on those around you – put them first – aim to have a positive impact.
  • Manage your emotions – had a bad drive into work?  Leave that frustration and annoyance at the door – spread positive not negative.  
  • Pay full attention to others, drop the multitasking with technology whilst speaking to others and really listen instead.  Ban phones from meetings.
  • Invest some time every day in others – and stick to it.
  • Practise small acts of kindness every day.
  • Think about what qualities you have to offer others?  What could you share?
  • Something as simple as a smile goes a long way.
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