Like most everyone, I’ve received a lot of advice over the years, coming from a variety of sources and spanning the spectrum between incredibly useful and incredibly useless. Furthermore, and not to get too technical here, but all the advice I’ve received lines up on a bell-shaped curve, which is slightly skewed toward the “bad” advice end, with only a few good solid pieces sticking out as outliers over on the “good” side. Some time ago, I came across some really great advice from one of my supervisors where I currently work and I only recently began integrating that advice into my life. Furthermore, the advice is so simple, so easy to implement and yet so important to my current situation and future aspirations that I am kicking myself for not realizing and taking to heart that advice sooner.
So what is this magical piece of advice? Be kind.
Just two words, but two words that have so much impact and so much meaning if utilized to the extent that they are meant to be. Being kind means having compassion and consideration for other people and things. Being kind means empathy, not apathy. Being kind is so easy to do if you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and reflect on their experiences the best you can. Finally, and here’s where the lesson comes in, being kind is extremely beneficial in the workplace.
Don’t believe me? Well we all know you might despise Craig from the marketing department or that you think your boss Jeff is a moron, but research from a variety of universities shows that a workplace culture that stresses kindness and forgiveness translates into higher productivity, higher self-worth and confidence, and a better-perceived image of management. This type of research comes to fruition and bubbles to the top through conferences like those held at Stanford University (https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/psychology-kindness-workplace) which held a “Compassion and Business” conference back in 2013, bringing together the best of psychology and business to stress the need for kindness in the office environment. It’s fantastic when businesses and universities can conduct and support this type of research and share their results for the benefit of so many people.
What is even more fantastic is that I think my company has a terrific culture centered on kindness toward employees and other stakeholders. As an employee, my supervisors take great care to make sure I’m doing work that I like, that I get the necessary time off I need to take care of my other commitments, and that I’m happy too. That level of care translates to more productivity on my part, in addition to a higher overall level of happiness.
Moreover, being kind has implications for what I hope to accomplish and how I hope to behave in the future. As a hospitality professional, being kind and considerate to all guests is paramount to guest satisfaction and repeat business. As I wrote in my last post, one of the ways to add hospitality to your own life is to be kind and considerate, and that goes for employees of hospitality organizations in addition to the everyday person. My kindness in every guest interaction is so important, so reflective of my own personality and the culture of whatever company I represent, that it should take on more meaning in organizational culture that I believe it currently does. For many organizations, the emphasis on kindness and the guest experience is there, demonstrated most beautifully when I worked for Marriott International. For other organizations, the emphasis is not there and I think we’ve all worked for one organization or another that has that lack of focus on kindness.
Unfortunately, the lesson in kindness has come too late in my life to rectify mistakes I have made, some quite recently. The good news is that orienting oneself towards being kind doesn’t take that much time or effort to do and I’ve begun trying to do just that for myself.