Smiles are contagious. Smiles improve the chemistry in our body and impact our emotions … and smiles are free.
When we are treated with respect and kindness, we feel better. When people feel they have nice co-workers there are a number of benefits:
- 56% healthier
- 92% more focused
- 55% more engaged
Being treated with respect is one of the strongest motivators in and out of the workplace. People tend to be less stressed, more productive, more cooperative and make fewer mistakes.
But nice people finish last …
Why does it seem that uncivil people get ahead? They don’t. The Center for Creative Leadership has found insensitive leaders are less successful. If they gain power they lose it when the inevitable difficulties arise.
Uncivil behavior studies have found significant reductions in productivity and commitment. 12% of people will leave a company if they feel disrespected. Disrespect or lack of civility has a major negative impact on the person being treated poorly. It also has a major impact on those who observe, or even hear about, uncivil behavior. Cisco Systems has estimated uncivil behavior costs the company over $12 million.
Nice leaders finish first
People perform better when they feel respected. Leaders who are respectful, smile and listen have a significant advantage. Good leaders can be very civil and still have high standards and hold people accountable. Christine Porath in her book, Mastering Civility, identifies 400 touch-points per day that we can chose civility. It may be a smile in the hallway, a “thank you” or another respectful gesture. You can improve your workday and the life of those around you by making an extra effort to smile and be civil, even when busy or stressed.
Acts of kindness
Unexpected acts of kindness are particularly powerful. My wife and I were standing in line for a piece of cheesecake after seeing a show in Los Vegas. It was late in the evening for the family in front of us who had an overactive toddler. We engaged with the boy and distracted him long enough for his father to complete his transaction. It was fun for us. We were next to make our dessert selection. The father surprised us by buying our cheesecake. It was very memorable, and encouraged us to pay it forward to someone else. Small acts of kindness can have a big impact. The father would have been justified in being tired, frustrated and focused on his plight. Instead, he choose to brighten our life with a surprise. I suspect it improved his feelings that evening also.
Doing kind things for your coworkers can have similar benefit for you and them.