Cultivate kindness

By Lucell Larawan

Beyond the “scratch my back in return” motive of being kind—which should not always drive you–why be kind? I am talking about that good old impact of simple consideration for your fellow employees, clients, friends or business partners.

In today’s cutthroat business world, it is easy to brush caring for others which is one of the foundations of human happiness. But let us ponder upon this issue: why treat others as you would like them to treat you.

Studies show that those who have more acts of kindness have higher levels of psychological and social well-being. Caring for yourself and others at the same time is not really at odds but it needs time and some effort.

Research also shows that if you do something heart-warming for someone, they will do something nice for four people, and each of those they touch will also affect another four each, and so on.

When employees get burned out, they cannot usually express this problem because doing so is another load on top of them. Managers do not have to force a one-hour workshop which is inconsistent with their needs. Helping stressed employees has to come from a place of authenticity, not by interventions that demand compliance, according to psychologists Jamil Zaki, Jayanth “Jay” Narayanan and Kristin Neff. A boss rolling out a program on compassion while he is a “monster” will likely fail in this.

Jamil Zaki said that the latest research is demonstrating that we are cordial even to people who cannot help us in return and to those beyond our loop of friends and relatives. This finding runs counter to assumptions by economists and biologists, and I wonder how true his statement is for organizations, where people compete for scarce resources. The practice of kindness varies in organizations, even in the same industry; it depends on the extent to which being amiable is encouraged, trained, and rewarded. People who are affectionate and compassionate tend to be attracted to and be selected by organizations that match those qualities. Even achievement-oriented cultures can be compassionate.

The following story is published in Today in the Word (February, 1991): “British statesman and financier Cecil Rhodes, whose fortune was used to endow the world-famous Rhodes Scholarships, was a stickler for correct dress–but apparently not at the expense of someone else’s feelings. A young man invited to dine with Rhodes arrived by train and had to go directly to Rhodes’s home in his travel-stained clothes. Once there he was appalled to find the other guests already assembled, wearing full evening dress. After what seemed a long time Rhodes appeared, in a shabby old blue suit. Later the young man learned that his host had been dressed in evening clothes, but put on the old suit when he heard of his young guest’s dilemma.”

Can we ever forget how surfer Roger Casugay in the recent SEA Games sacrificed his sure-fire victory to save the life of his Indonesian contender?