Why does being a businesswoman or a boss govern the level of kindness we’re “professionally” permitted to give to those we work with?
One can’t be blind to the fact that all people with whom we interact have lives, and sometimes those lives go through pretty shitty patches. Being there for a friend or even a stranger is easy and is expected. But, should an employee’s electricity and water be cut off, the offer of a hot shower and electricity to charge a phone tends to be frowned upon as it seems to cross an invisible line.
After some research – I found a lot of “Be nice to get people on your side”, “Why kindness pays off” and “Nice guys can finish first” bullshit, as though caring is something that should be done and used to gain things or feelings of trust from others.
Although I don’t agree with what seems to be the underlying reason outlined in a lot of these articles for being kind in the workplace – some studies have been made with interesting outcomes. In Emma Seppala’s article, “The Hard Data On Being A Nice Boss” she references a compelling study – “While our brains are attuned to threats (whether the threat is a raging lion or a raging boss), our brain’s stress reactivity is significantly reduced when we observe kind behaviour. As brain-imaging studies show, when our social relationships with others feel safe, our brain’s stress response is attenuated.”
There is also the opposite end of the scale, which Dennis Wilson touches on in his article “Why Being A Meaner Boss Will Help Your Company – And Make Your Employees Happy”, which I’d like to roll my eyes at, but is the one article which is more closely related to my point in its honesty and intentions than any of the other articles read.
Either way, the research done and the articles written don’t touch on the ways deemed acceptable in how we show our kindness to the ones we work with, or for whom we are the authoritative figure.
The “business” mentality has for far too long damaged the way we treat and interact with people. There are no rules, and if your worry is being unable to set boundaries by being too nice – you can be a good person with a kind heart and still say “no”.
Without seemingly pushing the hippie mentality that can sometimes make us feel less than adequate as humans – we need to change kindness in business from being a “give and take” thing in to being a simple “no bad vibes” thing. If we’re all happy, and more productive because of it – rad! But let’s not make that the payment we hope to receive for helping out when someone is in need or smiling when we greet people in the mornings.
Kindness is pretty gangster, and far too often do we underestimate the power and potential one small act of kindness has to turn a life around by giving too much power to maintaining a strong business image.
Kindness and caring can’t be inappropriate.