Celebrating kindness at work

They say that money makes the world go around – but how about a kindness revolution, instead? Or what about celebrating kindness at work? At work, kindness could be the key to keeping staff happy and generating more customers – thereby creating money, too. Hence, the World Kindness Movement (28 nations, and other kindness NGOs) have designated 13th November as World Kindness Day to promote working together to create a kinder world. So, are you in the business of being kind?

Small boy on ladder reaching for the sky - Celebrate acts of kindness - World Kindness Day - move forward

Coaching and Kindness…

Most leaders maintain a formal ‘professional front’, but some take it further – afraid to show their humanity.  In my work as an executive coach, one of my NGO clients didn’t really acknowledge the personal side of work – he thought that showing his feelings, taking a personal interest in staff or empathising was a sign of weakness. He was ‘too busy’ for things like kindness (or even politeness, at times!). As a result, he didn’t treat his staff or collaborators kindly – and was consequently unpopular, risking donor relations, and not performing well. And that’s why he needed my help.

On the other side of the coin, we need to be able to accept kindness from others, too. Another executive client had a fear of showing any vulnerability, which meant that she couldn’t reach out to others even when she needed support, and she found it hard to accept help or kindness. She therefore suffered from isolation and overload. Hence, it was a big step for her to acknowledge that she needed the help of a coach – but she knew that she was holding herself and her company back, if she couldn’t resolve this.

Kindness and positive outcomes…

People talk about the ‘cut-throat’ world of business – of winning, of beating the opposition, and making money out of people. In addition, even initial recruitment and career progression have that edge of competition and ‘everyone for themselves’. But – what if things could be different? What if the world of work was one of kindness, caring and support for one another? It’s all about give and take. There are great reasons to give kindness at work, and to be able to accept it.

In business, it is generally accepted that customers will spread bad news five times faster and further than they will good news. So, it’s all the more important to actively seek to please clients, and to spread positivity. Moreover, one way of doing this is through unexpected kindness – going the extra mile. There’s no better marketing or advertising than word of mouth recommendation – when people can’t wait to tell others about your amazing thoughtfulness and care. Hence, if someone has had a really good experience, they are more likely to come back for your business again. Surprisingly, even if a company is at fault – as long as it deals with the issue well, the customer is happier than ever. “When a problem occurs, swift and effective resolution can elevate repurchase intent to a level that’s actually greater than if the problem had never occurred at all.” (Harvard Business Review).

Kindness in action…


Research has shown that people who habitually go the extra mile, beyond their job role, contribute far more to team effectiveness. So, it’s beneficial to all to encourage a climate of collaboration and generosity. In addition, as organisational psychologist Adam Grant offers some practical advice to encourage ‘takers’ to be less selfish and more giving.

If you want to perform some kindness at work:

  • Add value to every interaction – offer something extra, whether it’s kind words, a business lead or referral, a compliment, or a free coffee.
  • ‘Turbo-charge’ your email signature or autoreply message with kindness or helpfulness, by offering useful tips, motivational messages, answering FAQ or giving links to articles online.
  • Do five-minute favors.
  • If someone requests something you can’t give, or time you can’t spare, do something quicker but still helpful (share a useful contact, link, or resource).
  • Perform Random Acts of Kindness.
  • Set up groups, or bring people together to address common issues or requests simultaneously.
  • Be a networker – introduce and connect people who can help one another.
  • Use an automatic meeting scheduler, for ad hoc enquiries or requests (e.g. Acuity Scheduling or TimeTrade)


Tips for beating burnout

Some kindnesses have a cost, so it’s important not to strain your resources. Adam Grant also has some tips for ‘beating generosity burnout’:

  • “Be prepared to say no to client requests that will stretch you too thin and undermine your ability to offer long-term help to them and others.
  • Amplify the return on your giving investments by looking for ways to repurpose resources developed in one context in others.
  • Chunk your time so that clients know when they can reach you — and when they can’t.”

Some acts of kindness cost nothing – a few words, a little time, or flexibility. See how you can make kindness a way of life. It’s easy to offer generosity and kindness without draining your time or your organisation’s resources. Quite the opposite – you’ll find it profitable and beneficial to everyone.

Will you make a living out of kindness?

If you or your organization could benefit from coaching, please get in touch.

If you would like to, please download my coaching programme brochure – Women’s Leadership Coaching – For Women in Development – specifically designed for women working in global development.

Email me: palena@unabridgedleadership.com

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