The Value of Kindness in Business
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As we near the end of the year -- the end of a decade, even -- it’s a good time to reflect on business practices: what worked, what didn’t, and why.
The digital age has completely changed the way we do business. At the exception for a very rare few, if you’re not online, you might as well not exist. Your audience exists and interacts online. If you’re not there with them, you’ll be swallowed up by competitors or simply run out of incoming revenue.
There’s a strong argument to be made that digital has completely whipped out all traditional means of marketing. TV ads, billboards and cold calls, while still around, are becoming anachronisms -- it’s now all about social media, web banners and EDMs.
To add to the issues, marketers today are completely at the whim of algorithms. But that doesn’t mean that traditional methods can’t provide any value and should always be rejected simply out of hand.
TV campaigns, for example, are still effective, especially when used in conjunction with online means, radio ads can a great way to target commuters and billboards still capture attention. Face-to-face selling, whether that’s selling a product or brand, is also still worth investing in.
Yet there is one traditional method which, due to today’s often cutthroat business world, is easy to forget -- but which is fundamental to all good decision making, workplace certification and human happiness: kindness.
And we’re not talking about kindness in terms of corporate culture or branding. We’re referring to that good old impact of simple consideration for your fellow employees, clients and potential clients, who are, at the end of the day, human beings.
Being kind is not only good for your health and wellbeing (studies show that people who carry out acts of kindness for others have higher levels of psychological flourishing -- the emotional, psychological, and social well-being -- compared to those who acted kindly towards themselves). It also makes sense economically, with a 2018 study finding that selfish people earn less than those who are willing to compromise their own work time to help someone else.
And it’s more than just making one person’s life better: research shows that if you do something nice for someone, they will do something nice for four people, and each of those will do something nice for four other people, and so on.
This is something Tristan Wright from Evolve to Grow, understands well. A self-proclaimed ‘Business Sherpa’, Wright assists business owners in the growth of their business through offering mentorship, advice and accountability, and offers up avenues for new opportunities.
He also understands people, and the value of being nice. Case in point: one morning, he and Fabian Pataud (founder of Patuad Consulting) were discussing how to build their presence in the centre when the community manager of Waterman Business Centres chimed in with an idea.
“Why not give people some donuts?”
Wright and Patuad didn't waste any time: they ordered 150 donuts from a cafe, and spent the next four hours giving out donuts to more than 600 tenants in the Waterman Group co-working space. At the end of the day, Wright not only made new friends -- he made a deal with the 3 Phase Marketing agency for $65,000. All it took was the time to get to know people -- oh, and free donuts (which no one begrudged him, trust me).
We often talk in the business world that it’s all our customer relationships, and even though the digital age has made it possible to reach more people faster, there’s a lot to still be said about being open and friendly in person.
With competition in every sector surging, getting on the front foot to close a sale, secure a contract or sign on a new client has never seemed more difficult.
Yet perhaps taking a step back and just being nice to people for the sake of it -- and not because you want something -- is what underpins the best businesses.
Next time you’re in the office, look around: is someone struggling to open a door? Perhaps one of your colleagues really needs a hand with a project or to talk through a pay review she is having in a week. If you can, help out. The cumulative effects will not only make you healthier long term, but the kindness you display is contagious and will soon spread. After all, who are we to argue with science?