Etiquette

6 Ways to Demonstrate Kindness in Business and the Rest of Your Life

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Whether you realize it or not, you are judged by how you treat people who have less power or status than you do.

Have you ever gone out to dinner with someone who treated you well, but treated the wait staff poorly? Looking down on someone else, or treating others as if they were lesser than you will only reflect badly on your own character, and detract from both your professionalism and your chances of success.

It only takes a moment to be nice to someone else, and bring a smile to their day. Besides, you never know who’s watching.

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be sure to make a positive impact on the world around you.

1. Be nice to everyone with whom you interact.

This includes everyone in every establishment, from the doorman at the hotel, to the server at a restaurant, to the cleaning crew in a company, to the company president or business manager. It only takes a moment to smile and say “thank you” or bestow a kind word, yet it says volumes about your character.

2. Show respect to executive assistants.

Executive assistants are known as “gatekeepers” because they hold the keys to the kingdom. Bosses often ask their opinions and place a lot of value on what they say.

While waiting to see a decision maker, keep in mind that everything you do is visible, and sometimes audible. If the assistant doesn’t look too busy, make small talk. While you wait, ask his or her name, and comment on photographs or awards you see, or mention a non-controversial news story you read earlier. You’ll be better remembered the second time you call when you bring up a topic you discussed during your first visit.

Related: A Business Owner's Act of Kindness Inspires the Internet, Sparks Larger Campaign

3. Be polite but not overly familiar.

Avoid being too chummy with someone you just met, or using potentially-insulting terms such as “hon,” “sweetie,” “babe,” “dude,” “son,” or “guy.” Treat everyone with the same respect you’d like to receive yourself.

4. Help someone in need. 

If you spot someone coming behind you through the door, hold it open for them. If you see a person carrying a heavy load, offer to help carry it to their destination. You never know where this kind gesture will lead. Perhaps to a conversation, an exchange of business cards, or even a new business relationship. After all, they’ll see the “real you” in action and know what kind of person you are from the start.

Related: Don't Be Remembered for Forgetting Your Manners

5. Help others succeed.

Most often, your best clients come to you by referral. Look for ways to help others succeed by referring potential business or influencers to those you know and like. If someone is struggling with an aspect of their business and asks for your advice, jump in and offer your expertise. You’ll build a deeper relationship and a trust that will provide mutual rewards for years to come.

6. Be nice, even if they are not.

A barista may snap at you while taking your order and your gut response may be to “give it right back.” Instead, take a moment and counter with kindness. Perhaps that person is having a bad day and doesn’t mean to be unkind, or the customer before you gave them a hard time. Your kind comment could be just the thing to get them back on track.

Being kind isn’t difficult; it’s a mindset. Think of it as creating the karma you want in your own life, for what you send out to the universe will eventually return to you.

Related: It Really Does Pay to Be Nice -- Growing Research Links Friendship and Success