“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: Kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
— Mother Teresa
Why is it so hard for some people to be kind to others? In many work environments rudeness, crudeness and all out incivility rule the culture. Verbal abuse from a manager, blaming mistakes on others and talking down to individuals are just a few unkind ways that 98% of people polled across 17 industries reported being treated at work. (Harvard Business Review) Unkind work environments have a negative impact on employee productivity and engagement. Almost 50% of employees who work in these environments report intentionally decreased work effort, spending less time at work, and said that their commitment to the organization declined.
How can “kindness” help business to have a competitive edge?
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, there is a strong business case for kindness. It strengthens relationships within the organization and with other business partners and investors.
A culture of kindness can attract employees to a company and lead to lower recruiting, hiring and training costs. This also, in turn, will lead to higher productivity.
Kindness in the workplace enhances employee engagement and business performance. Employee engagement has become a significant predictor of an organization’s profitability and productivity. According to a Gallup study, actively disengaged employees cost more than $483 billion each year in lost productivity.
What can we do to promote kindness? First we must realize that kindness is simply actions intended to benefit others.
Hold your tongue. Do not literally put your fingers in your mouth and grab your tongue to stop yourself from talking, but think before you speak. Are the words you intend to say going to help the situation at hand or are they going to do more harm than good? Giving someone a “piece of your mind” will only relieve your stress for a short time and may damage the other person in the long term. Remember, that how you feel is simply an opinion and may not be
based on fact. It is not always appropriate to share these words — especially if you are in a management or superior position.
Treat others like you want to be treated. Yes, also known as the Golden Rule for good reason. If you would like to hear “good job” more frequently, then say it a little more. If you can drop something off at someone’s work station for them, do it. If cookies or donuts bring smiles — every once in a while, share a few.
Be grateful. There is a co-worker, a team member or a subordinate who needs to know that something, even small they did, helped you in some way. Say “thank you” and practice saying it often.
Say “good morning” and “good evening” to the people around you. If you ask them a question, actually listen to their answer. You probably spend more time with these people than you do some of your family members.
Small acts of kindness carry a lot of clout.
Heidi Shadel is a Cumberland business owner and graduate of Frostburg State University with a master’s in business administration. She believes in small business and the power that it holds in America’s economy, especially having a passion for helping small businesses succeed within the tri-state region.
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