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Most parents, teachers, and caregivers make a point to instill the power of kindness in young people, and as we get older, we continue to see its effects in everyday life. The Golden Rule, “Do onto others as you would have done onto you,” has become a staple in households and classrooms.
Why, then, does this message seem to get lost in the workplace?
Marcel Schwantes stated in his article, The Secret to a Happier Workplace May Be Found in This Ignored Virtue, Says Science, that kindness is associated with weakness.
“Kindness is not perceived as a business strength,” Schwantes explained. “And fear of appearing ‘weak’ still permeates the ethos of traditional hierarchical thinking.”
According to Jennifer Lea Reynolds, writer for the Huffington Post, during a Compassion and Business conference held at Stanford University a couple years back, professionals shared that showing “companionate love in the workplace” can create powerful leaders, improve emotions that have been drained from burnout, and even increase levels of achievement.
Although kindness between coworkers is important, kindness from employers can be even more pivotal in the overall performance of the company.
“Managers often think that putting pressure on employees will drive performance,” Schwantes said. “Actually, what it does is it turns your workplace into a pressure cooker that increases stress and leads to turnover.”
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 52 percent of employees reported that workplace stress has caused them to search for new employment, turn down a promotion, or quit.
Schwantes wrote that companies with seemingly unhappy employees and a high turnover rate should change their approach, and start listening to science.
Jonathan Haidt, psychologist at New York University, said that watching a coworker help another co-worker creates a feeling of “elevation.” This essentially means that kindness is contagious; when you see someone commit an act of kindness, you want to do the same. This continuous cycle creates a “culture of kindness” in the workplace.
According to a 2010 study done by students at the University of Michigan and Georgia State University, when employees are friendly and personable, help each other, and the working atmosphere is pleasant and not fear-based, employees not only provide better customer service on their own accord, without prompting, but they also develop better relationships at work. This, in turn, increases productivity.
Judith Glaser, CEO of Benchmark Communications and author of Creating WE, said our brains are actually hard-wired to respond to kindness and trust: “When someone is kind and respectful to us, our brains produce more oxytocin and dopamine, which helps us relax, feel open to others, and be more sharing and cooperative.”
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Victoria Antonelli is a writer at iConnectEngineers™. At iConnectEngineers™, we use engaging content, creative design, and smart campaigns to bridge the worlds of business, marketing and social innovation with a primary focus on the engineering and technology industries.
Originally published at www.iconnectengineers.com on December 17, 2016.
Originally published at medium.com