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The Missing Ingredient In The Workplace: Kindness

Everyone knows the phrase "survival of the fittest", a phrase said by Charles Darwin, the father of the evolution theory. This phrase has been mistranslated to mean that you need to be competitive and selfish to ensure that you remain ahead of others. However, Darwin believed that humans are social and caring creatures. Therefore, 'survival of the fittest' actually means getting along with others – fitting in – is the essential ingredient for survival. If we want to get along with others, we would have to exhibit kindness. The quality to be friendly, generous and considerate of others.

The basis of a healthy brain is goodness.

This phrase was said by Richard Davidson, a scientist specialising in affective neuroscience. He believed that kindness required an ability to think of others, not just of yourself. As such, this ability allows you to understand different perspectives and consider alternative viewpoints. If we consider the fact that intelligence is the capability to apply knowledge and skills to the real world, kindness can help us to increase our intelligence.

In fact, there is increasing research showing that kindness is linked to intelligence. People with higher cognitive ability are able to evaluate everyone's interests and find creative solutions that will benefit everyone. Thus, while kind people often do things at great personal sacrifice, such as money and time, they understand that it will lead to a more positive outcome for everyone.

Even in businesses, doing random acts of kindness for your clients has been seen to increase loyalty and sales. According to TrendWatching, random acts of kindness by businesses is received very gratefully by clients. People are often used to inflexible and opaque corporations. So, when a business displays kindness by trying to understand the needs of their clients and figuring out ways to help them, it becomes a refreshing change for customers. As a result, kindness leads to smarter workers and better business.

It does not pay to be kind.

This is a phrase that is often repeated and proven by many real-world examples of power being held by unkind people. While many people do see kindness as a virtue, it is not the case in the workplace. In the workplace, where competition can be quite high, being kind may cause a person to be taken advantage of or regarded with suspicion. In such an environment, kindness may be left behind.

An experiment conducted by the University of Bristol showed that it was intelligence that was more likely to lead to success rather than kindness. Through a series of games that was done to identify what encourages cooperation at work, the researchers realised it was the people who were more intelligent. More intelligent people exhibited higher levels of cooperation because they were able to see the bigger picture. These people did not necessarily display kindness or generosity.

In a similar study published in the Journal of Political Economy, researchers also came to a similar conclusion. However, a second experiment revealed that kindness does pay to succeed. In that experiment, people with high intelligence were paired with lower intelligence to finish a series of games. It was shown that the more intelligent people actually taught the less intelligent people the advantages of being kind. As a result, more intelligent people are aware of the social consequences of their actions and are able to see that niceness pays off for everyone in the end.

There is also research indicating that competitiveness and selfishness only led to short-term successes. It was the kind people, who created a more collaborative culture, who ensured long-term success for their company. In fact, toxic people have a greater negative impact on the company than a few under-performing workers. Subsequently, companies should focus on cultivating a workplace where kindness can thrive and hiring people who exhibit kindness. Intelligence is important, but it should be balanced with kindness to ensure continuous success.

If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it. - Lucy Larcom


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