When you think of business, what comes to mind?
Cutthroat? Survival of the fittest? Dog-eat-dog world? Probably. Kindness? Probably not. While there’s merit to having a little spark in your personality, don’t overlook one of the most powerful principles of all: genuine kindness with no strings attached.
Before you dismiss this as soft and squishy, consider that no matter how ugly humanity gets, at our core, we are attracted to kindness. We all agree kind people are easier to like.
Similarly, kind companies are easier to do business with.
Whether on a one-to-one level or business-to-business, kindness is king. Kindness is trending in business.
Several trends are creating this perfect storm. First, the world has become full of negativity. Haters are on every platform and have the loudest voices, times ten. Major news outlets run rampant with depressing headlines, the more shocking the more profitable. And what do you do when everyone else zigs? You zag. Today more than ever, kindness is a breath of fresh air in a polluted world. If for no other reason, kindness is a great way to stand out from the crowd.
Second, everyone now has a platform on social media. When something strikes someone in an unusual way, they’re likely to share it with their networks. At any given time, someone is just a click away from filming and sharing and instantly, the world will know about it.
Third, people are starving for authenticity, especially when it comes to brands. True kindness is rooted in authenticity. You can’t separate the two. The truer you are to yourself, the more your customers will gravitate toward you.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of being generous is keeping your heart in the right place. If you’re not doing it because it’s the right thing to do, the lack of authenticity will show through and you’ll eventually be called out. Our world is too transparent. The days of “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” are long gone. No longer can you get away with not being authentic to your audience?
If you’re not on board the generosity bandwagon, you should consider the payoff.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of all is, ironically, somewhat selfish. Those who give unselfishly to others reap the biggest rewards. They experience countless benefits, including less stress, better health, more happiness, improved self-esteem, even a longer lifespan. If that’s what can happen on an individual level, imagine the impact of these benefits spreading throughout your entire organization.
Gary Vaynerchuck recently said, “Kindness is foundational for me. It is absolutely a core tenant, and it delivers unbelievable dividends in business, but more importantly, in life.”
There’s also a side effect of generosity. How do you feel when you witness a random act of kindness when you’re neither the giver nor the receiver? Watch an inspirational video of a major sports team visiting a boy in the hospital and you feel the same emotions as the boy himself. Now consider the what happens when others reading about how your company is changing lives. Those warm, fuzzy feelings they feel are now linked to your brand.
Here are a few key ideas to keep in mind as you consider ways to implement this in your business:
Give first. Whether in personal relationships or business, look for how you can be the first to give something of value, even if it’s small. Not only does it make the person’s day, but somewhere in the back of their mind, they feel an obligation to repay the favor.
Give generously. Give positive energy, a handshake and smile more often. Make it a personal challenge to compliment everyone you meet. If you develop the habit, you’ll find there’s always something good you can say about everyone.
Give without expectation of reciprocity. If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, great. Do good just for the sake of doing good and nothing else. Plus, it’s fun. Attaching an agenda to it undermines the intention. You simply cannot afford to be anything other than authentic to your audience.
A year ago, Lady Gaga surprised homeless youth in Harlem with an outpouring of gifts and hugs. It was nothing more than an effort on her part to help herself heal from PTSD. Gaga reported, “I am no better than any of those kids. And I’m no worse than any of them. We are equal. We both walk our two feet on the same earth. And we’re in this together.”
What happened was nothing less than remarkable. Countless press articles and hundreds of millions of views later, her brand is in front of the world. How much would that kind of attention have required in your current marketing plan? Granted, you may not have the following to garner that kind of attention. But the principle remains the same: people love a good story.
The next marketing strategy meeting you have, make sure kindness is a line item on the agenda. It pays big dividends on every side.