There are so many benefits of kindness at work. Recently I read ‘The five side effects of kindness’ by David R. Hamilton, PhD. The book provides solid research into why kindness is good for us and goes into depth about how it impacts our minds and bodies. Here I’ll use his framework and apply his findings to your workplace. The five benefits of kindness at work are:
The 1st Side Effect: Kindness makes us happier
Kindness just feels good, both for the person receiving the kindness and the person doing the kindness. It increases our self esteem, boosts our sense of connection and purpose and gives us a little hit of serotonin and oxytocin, hormones produced in the brain that stabilise our mood and foster trust and relationships.
Helpers high is a term used to describe how you feel after doing an act of kindness. The helpers high means that your personal feelings of satisfaction, contribution and connection are elevated and has the ongoing effect of enabling more kindness and producing more positive emotions.
Is there someone at work you can grab a coffee for today? You may just make their day.
The 2nd Side Effect: Kindness is good for the heart
Kindness is uplifting, whether participating, receiving or simply witnessing acts of kindness in the workplace. Kindness produces a feeling of elevation, a term coined by Johnathon Haidt that describes how others are inspired by others kindness at work, and in turn more likely to behave in kind ways.
Kindness produces oxytocin as previously mentioned, and oxytocin has significant positive impact on the heart and arteries. Hence kindness is cardio protective, it acts to protect the heart. In fact, even being kind to animals impacts the heart. One study indicated returning home to a dog after a heart attack reduced the incidence of death by 400% over the next 12 months.
Is there any chance you can take your dog to work? I know Google has a great policy for pets.
The 3rd Side Effect: Kindness slows aging
For most people, work can be a pretty stressful environment, and we all know that stress accelerates aging. Much of this aging is related to oxidative stress, which leads to hardening of the arteries, memory loss, poor concentration and wrinkles. (There is good news, I promise.) Oxytocin, which is released during receiving or creating kindness, reduces oxidative stress. So, kindness at work has the ability to improve muscle regeneration, reduce wrinkles and even decrease inflammation.
Immunosenescence is the gradual weakening of the immune system with age. The more work stress we experience, the faster we age. Feelings of elevation however, improve our immune system, despite age.
Try being more kind to yourself. Take a few deep breaths and feel the stress drift away. Yes, kindness to yourself definitely counts.
The 4th Side Effect: Kindness improves relationships
Kindness brings out the best in ourselves and others, it underpins trust within a team and makes workplace relationships much more successful. The way we give and receive kindness will promote or damage relationships and can be a strong foundation for which to develop a positive workplace culture.
According to Barbara Fredrickson, relationships are not built on long term commitments, but rather micro moments of positivity between people. If this is the case, kindness clearly has a big role to play in the workplace to foster better relationships and improve communication.
Who could you acknowledge today? Perhaps a thank you note to a team member highlighting what they’ve done to contribute to the team or project would bring you closer together.
The 5th Side Effect: Kindness is contagious
Kindness is contagious, just the same as a common cold. Each act of kindness creates a small ripple effect that has no end. Kindness also goes full circle, each act of kindness has an impact on our people and workplace, ultimately having a positive impact on us again in the future. Just as a pebble thrown into a pond continues to generate ripples, so does one small random act of kindness in your workplace
Most workplaces have high levels of stress, increasing demands and a shrinking pool of resources. The workplace is becoming a tough environment to foster and enable wellbeing, but I believe that Kindness creates a small ray of light, a little hope in an otherwise long day, and our world needs more light. Please don’t take my word for it. Experiment. Play with kindness and see how it impacts your and other peoples day.
By starting a conversation with the person in the lift, you might make a simple connection, or just give their day a micro lift. It may bring a little bounce to their step and help them see the world in a more positive light. They may go on to listen a little more openly, engage a little more deeply or simply forgive a little more genuinely. Or… perhaps you just get to feel good about being friendly.
Now you understand the benefits of kindness at work, if you’re looking for more inspiration on how to create kindness at work, download my calendar with 24 ideas for kindness.
I hope you can see the many many benefits of kindness at work and are now inspired to give it a go. If you’re interested in how kindness benefits you and everyone around you, definitely add ‘The five side effects of kindness by David R. Hamilton to your reading list.