Why Be Kind in a Cruel World

In a world full of distrust, vitiriol and "me first" thinking, is there a compelling case for kindness? Here are four powerful and proven ways to bring more kindness into your organization.

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If you’ve worked in the business world for any period of time, you have seen it.



Downright meanness.

In fact in the ad agency world I once lived in, it was thought of as being part and parcel of the job. Whether the venom came from clients, superiors or peers, I used to hear the old phrase “you need thicker skin, son. Now let me buy you a drink.”

Well in case you haven’t heard, things have changed in this age of technology. Cruelty in any form has been shown the door.

And it’s not just the old self-help gurus touting a kinder, gentler way for the work world.

In the recently published book “Simply Brilliant” by William C. Taylor, the author devotes half his book to detailing the merits of kindness and great organizations. Here’s what he writes:

“It’s just as important to be kind as to be clever. Organizations that perform at a high level for a long time don’t just think differently from everyone else, they care more than everyone else. In an era of big ideas and disruptive technology, simple acts of connection and compassion take on outsized importance.”

His proof points come in the form of several organizations including a nonprofit healthcare foundation in Alaska known as Southcentral Foundation. There’s an anecdotal story about Panera Bread! Another one about Russian airline Aeroflot. And even a bit of narrative about Jeff Bezos of Amazon who recently addressed Princeton’s graduating class ending up his sermon with the simple call to those graduates asking, “Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?”

Besides reading the book, here are 4 other ideas to bring kindness into your organization:

1.      Lead by Example: Lead with your heart. You will inspire those around you. Nothing builds co-worker and customer loyalty quicker than a person who reflects kindness and compassion in all they do.

2.      Be Authentic: Make sure you stay true to yourself. Let your co-workers see that even leaders have ebbs and flow of emotions in their day-to-day activities. Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness.

3.      Know Your Team: Take the time to learn about your co-workers and what they care about. Greet them personally and tell them how much you value their collaboration in your organization.

4.      Practice Conscientious Communication: Encourage co-workers to speak openly. Teach them how to communicate with empathy yet still deliver their message. And lead by example demonstrating the powerful skill of listening.

Let’s not forget that we are all human. And as Taylor reminds us, “In a world being reshaped by technology, what so many of us crave are small gestures of kindness that remind us of what it means to be human.”

To get our book, “Putting Soul Into Business: How the Benefit Corporation is Transforming American Business for Good,” simply click here.

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