Be kind. There are a lot of cynics out there who might think this is the worst piece of career advice that I’ve dished out yet. But why is that? How can they not see the long-lasting, overall positive impact that comes from being kind? Kindness is directly related to your success and it helps you advance your career to new heights. Instead of this “nice person pushover” play that could possibly sabotage your career, expressing your inherent, authentic kindness is required for sustaining healthy relationships. True kindness is incredibly powerful and rewarding and yes, it boosts your success.
Here are five ways kindness helps you become more successful and the books that will show you the way:
- Kindness Boosts Your Career. When you thrive, your organization thrives and vice versa. And there is something to be said about the mutually-beneficial results that flow out of kindness including reduced conflict, opportunity attraction and customer retention to name a few. Wharton professor Adam Grant’s research on kindness cited in Harvard Business Review proved that when individuals employ more of a giving attitude, they and their organizations reap huge benefits. In his book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, Grant explores how success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others and in what ways we can reconfigure our success path to include altruism, empowerment and kindness as part of our strategy.
- Kindness Improves Your Relationships. Relationships rely on kindness. Business relies on kindness. Engaging and keeping customers, working alongside others and being productive in your team is only sustainable if you invoke a little kindness in all that you do. How relationships can be forged, and how you can personally thrive by kindness is explored in Dr. Marcia Sirota Ph.D.’s book Be Kind Not Nice: How to Stop Pleasing People, Build Your Confidence and Discover Your Authentic Self. But the biggest take away from her book is how offering kindness to others only comes after you are first kind to yourself. Sirota shares how to understand the distinction between being kind and nice and that healthy self-esteem is the integral foundation for success.
- Kindness Enhances Your Leadership. Looks like being nice does pay, especially when it comes to excelling in leadership and improving the organization’s bottom line. According to studies cited by Fred Kiel, head of the executive development firm KRW International, people worked harder and more happily when they felt valued and respected. In her book, Your Hidden Superpower: The Kindness That Makes You Unbeatable at Work and Connects You with Anyone, Emmy-winning journalist, Adrienne Bankert shares how kindness has been a game changer for her and other leaders, and how it has opened doors and propelled their careers.
- Kindness Elevates Your Success. A study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin demonstrated how altruism—the practice of prioritizing the welfare of others—will increase someone’s social status within a group. It not only elevates your success, but society’s too. In his book, Altruism, Matthieu Ricard shares how cultivating altruistic love and compassion is the best means for simultaneously benefitting ourselves and our society. He argues that altruism—genuine concern for the well-being of others—has proved time and again to be the secret sauce to make our world a better place.
- Kindness Improves Your Life. Imagine your workday if you didn’t have any niceness in it? Not good. Deep Kindness: A Revolutionary Guide for the Way We Think, Talk and Act in Kindness is an upcoming book by speaker and advocate, Houston Kraft. His message centers around how much we can gain by diverting our energy away from the things that don’t bring us joy and onto simple acts of kindness that help us and our community thrive. He explains how this “low-burden” exercise is readily available and should be embraced by all generations. We teach our children the importance of being nice from their very first interaction with others all the way through school and onto their first interview. So why should we be the exception? The next time you’re at your local bookstore, take a peek at how many children’s materials are focused on the message “It’s nice to be nice.” Disney’s Goldie & Bear even sing a song claiming “Bein’ Nice is Easy.”
Sure, it’s great to be on the receiving end of kindness. It’s also great to be around others who are kind. And while the definition of “kindness” is highly subjective, this is proof that it’s also an incredibly powerful success tool. I’m not saying ‘fake it until you make it’ type of kindness that everyone sees right through, but rather the real, authentic and genuine kindness that attracts opportunity and positions you for ongoing success. These resources will help you hone the kind of kindness that will not only elevate your career but bring you true happiness and joy on your journey of life.
For a little more inspiration, check out the Ripple Kindness Project
Images courtesy of Marcia Sirota and Simon & Schuster, Inc.