Communicate on the Same Wavelength



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How does kindness change a company?

How does kindness change a company?

Showing kindness to each other increases employee engagement and satisfaction


What is kindness?


In a competitive-oriented culture, the belief that being kind does not facilitate goal achievement (Agarwal, 2019) meant that kindness was not a particular focus for leaders, and it was certainly difficult to see it as competence. Rather, it brought to mind small, selfless acts of kindness, such as holding the door for a person with a lot of luggage or bringing water to a tired co-worker. Gestures that, while indicative of a good upbringing, do not change the world. 


This narrowing of the understanding of kindness not only prevents it from realizing its potential to increase an organization’s profits but also carries the risk of real losses for the organization. Therefore, a clear distinction should be made between being nice and being kind, because although these behaviors appear similar, their motivations and consequences are different. 


Being nice stems from the need to be liked – as a result, nice employees are more easily influenced by the opinions of others and are more likely to avoid difficult conversations. Their own reputation is sometimes more important to them than the development of the organization and the well-being of other employees (Parker, 2021).


Meanwhile, in the case of kindness, showing someone respect is not incompatible with boldly telling the truth – even if this does not guarantee reciprocity or personal benefit. External factors play a secondary role and do not have as much influence on how a kind person will behave. As a result, benevolent individuals not only inspire trust among colleagues but bring innovative solutions to the team’s work (Parker, 2021).


Why is kindness important?


As much as 44% more engaged in their work were employees in teams where there was an atmosphere of kindness. Mutual respect and helpfulness also made them increase their energy (by 26%) and satisfaction (by 36%) (The Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada, APEX), affecting the efficiency of their tasks and employee loyalty to the company. Employees also showed lower stress levels and better health, which in turn significantly reduced their absenteeism (Seppälä, 2024) and raised the quality of their tasks (The Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada, APEX). They also proved to be more creative (Achor, 2018). 


The presence of benevolence says a lot about what communication looks like in a group. It is good practice at this level to at least direct thanks to the team for a task well done or a favor. Not insignificant are also messages about assistance in the broadest sense – for example, offering support during the induction of a new employee. 


Compliments also play an important role. Not only do they evoke positive emotions and improve mood, but they also affect employees’ sense of accomplishment and self-esteem (Sezer, Nault, Klein, 2021). These are important protective factors against occupational burnout. It’s also worth knowing that compliments benefit more than just those who receive them – appreciating a co-worker’s performance and praising his or her ideas usually improves the mood of both parties (Sezer, Nault, Klein, 2021). 


Challenges of kindness


People’s emotions and behaviors are contagious. An employee who experiences kindness and compliments is more likely to return the favor – not only to the gifting colleague but also to other team members (Sezer, Nault, Klein, 2021). 


However, giving compliments does not come naturally to everyone. For some, it even causes discomfort and anxiety (Boothby, Zhao, Bohns, 2021), stemming from uncertainty about which compliments will be valuable and which may prove awkward. 


These difficulties are compounded especially in culturally diverse work environments. For example, a statement motivated by sincere admiration that – despite lacking a European education – a person of Asian descent is performing well financially in the European market may be perceived by them as condescending or Eurocentric.


Therefore, in such situations, it is advisable to use an empathizer who takes into account cultural differences and suggests how to communicate with the person.


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