Monday, January 8, 2018

Kindness Begets Kindness at Work

Kindness begets kindness. Past research suggests that when we receive goodness from others, we’re often motivated to pass it on.

A new study, published this year in the journal Emotion, found that this ripple effect can occur in a somewhat unlikely arena: the corporate workplace.

Researchers from UC Riverside asked a group of employees at Coca-Cola in Spain to perform five acts of kindness for a dedicated group of their coworkers, each week for a month. The givers did things for receivers like buying coffee, providing encouragement, and writing thank-you emails.

After the experiment, givers and receivers reported greater well-being and satisfaction of their basic psychological needs, when compared to a control group. Givers felt a greater sense of competence and autonomy after the experiment; one month later, they had higher life and job satisfaction, as well as fewer symptoms of depression. Receivers felt more autonomy—and, one month later, they also felt happier.

More strikingly—according to surveys of behaviors people saw and performed during the month—receivers seemed to be performing more kind acts toward others. They were paying kindness forward.

We often see work as separate from our personal life, a competitive environment where we check our feelings at the door. But this study—along with other research on the benefits of gratitude at work and the drawbacks of ruthlessness—suggests a different vision for our professional lives. It’s possible to cultivate kinder, more compassionate workplaces, for the benefit of employees and employers alike.

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