The Quiet Power of Kindness

“Don’t underestimate the power of kindness in the workplace” is another genuinely insightful study from Harvard Business Review.

The article drives the point home that everybody wants to be happy. It’s a basic human instinct. The context of the article is todays new normal. A regular ‘Thank you, Garry’ or ‘Great Job’ recognition in the hallway is no longer the norm. It now seems like a practice from a distant era.

HBR’s study explains that showing kindness brightens the recipient’s day and brings happiness to the giver. Acts of kindness bring meaning to our life because we are investing in something much bigger than ourselves. Studies show that people giving compliments get more benefit from it than the recipient of the praise.

Kindness is like a boomerang. According to HBR research, kindness is paid back. Kindness is also paid forward—an act of kindness breed kindness. I read a story about the effect of a kind gesture a few months ago.

These two friends were walking in the streets of New York, catching up on old times. As they were chatting, the person in front of them had his backpack open. The person did not realize that some of the documents had fallen off his backpack. Without missing a beat, one of the two friends picked up the pieces of paper that had fallen on the street.

They reached the guy at a pedestrian crossing. The crossing light was red. As the guy stood waiting, the two friends tapped him on the shoulder. He looked back, and he was handed his documents. After the guy thanked them, he crossed the street. A bystander, who witnessed the entire incident, walked up to the two friends. He complimented them on their act of kindness.

Let’s see who benefited from this act? The backpack guy undoubtedly felt good that someone took the time to pick up his documents. The two friends felt good that they had a good deed for the day. The witness felt good after witnessing the good deed. All of them will probably find an opportunity to perform an act of kindness in the coming days.

At work, kindness fosters collaboration and teamwork. No matter the size of the gesture, big or small, people appreciate it. It helps create psychological safety in the organization.

If kindness has such great benefits to oneself and the organization, why don’t more people act accordingly? Why do we hesitate to show kindness to others?

I observe that, at times, people feel awkward to show kindness. We are more critical in the workplace. A toxic work environment promotes a culture of individuality. We are quick to find faults in others, but we are hesitant to find a good deed. At times, we dismiss good work as part of their job, so there is no need to show a kind gesture.

Sometimes, pride gets in the way. A gesture of kindness can be seen as a weakness by traditional managers. Some find it difficult to say a kind word, especially in public. Sending a private “thank you” email would be more comfortable for them.

Leaders, let’s set an example. The world is already challenging enough. Let’s not allow pride or awkwardness to get in the way of building an environment of kindness in the workplace.

It has always been a dream of many to wake up excited to come to work. A culture of kindness can help bring us closer to that dream. Let’s do our part and start now. Show kindness to the person next to you.

Stay safe,

Jordan Imutan
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