It makes sense
WHILE we think of traits such as charisma or intellect as indispensable for career success, kindness should be on top of the list.
Kindness can help you land your first job. Imagine an interviewer who was very impressed by a job applicant. He instructed his secretary to prepare the job offer. When the secretary wrinkled her forehead in response, he asked why. “Well,” the secretary explained, “he struck me as arrogant when he told me to tell you that he’s here for the interview, without even a ‘please’ or ‘thank you’. Then he ignored me on his way in and out of your office.”
You can guess what happened to the job offer. Simple, sincere courtesy to everyone you meet at work is vital, especially when you’re looking for work in the first place. Employers are not only looking for people with talent and brains, but also with the ability to relate well to the rest of the organization.
Kindness can help you land your next job. Two managers -- let’s call them Harry and Sally -- work in the same company. Harry is the tyrant: he belittles his subordinates, scolds them at their smallest mistakes and takes all the credit for their hard work. Sally is the boss everyone would love to work with: an emphatic coach with a passion to develop her people and see them succeed.
When the company was bought by a conglomerate, Harry and Sally were declared redundant and let go. Both approached a recruiter, who in turn asked for character references. Harry looked desperately for someone to put a kind word for him. Sally, on the other hand, had no problem getting warm recommendations from her former boss. She also gave the recruiter specific examples of how her leadership brought out the best of people. Guess who got the job?
Kindness can help ease a toxic workplace. A website called Random Acts of Kindness includes the story of a harassed mother. She had brought her two-year old son to the supermarket. Her child was tired, cranky and grabbing for every item they passed. She was losing her temper when an elderly woman came over, took the boy’s hand and said “What a lovely child.” The little boy was quiet immediately. The woman looked at the mother, smiled angelically and added, “Kids are so wonderful at this age.”
After the elderly woman walked away, mother and son found a snack that pleased both of them. The rest of the shopping trip became a pleasant experience, all because a total stranger reminded her what a treasure she had in her little boy.
Many employees would complain about their workplace: the unrelenting pressure, the hard-to-please boss, the politicking office mates, long hours, setbacks, and so on. But kindness diffuses stress and reminds both giver and receiver that life is more than work.
Is it possible to have your kindness exploited? Of course. But what’s the alternative? Dog eat dog? A perversion of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others before they do it unto you”? Like the elderly woman in the story, perhaps your little act of kindness is what it needs to brighten up your workplace.
The Good Book says that whatever we sow, we will reap. What’s more, we will reap to the extent that we have sown, whether sparingly or abundantly. Therefore, let us scatter seeds of kindness, with no thought of payback or timetable, and make our workplace a sliver a heaven instead of hell on earth.
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