Kindness in the Workplace

Here’s an interesting piece on kindness in the business world: Let’s end the paradox of kindness. And while this piece comes from a very different place than kindness with nonprofit employees, many of the points still ring true.

I really enjoy considering the concepts of kindness and niceness in the nonprofit sector. I personally pride myself on being both of those things – but thinking about them critically in the nonprofit workplace is very important. Unfortunately, we have a culture of being too nice. Because the main goal of the sector is to help others, which is something nice, there is a misconception that employees should bend over backwards for each other – so much, that professionalism is going to the wayside, people aren’t being honest in their feedback, and undeserving/inappropriate people are rising to the top (which is a huge issue, unfortunately: many of the CEOs I have worked with are a little nuts, and I think that’s why).

We need to redefine kindness. Instead of kind being false compliments and high pitched voices, kindness should be consideration, respect, and thoughtfulness – and it should be something we all strive for, not matter what sector we work in. I love the post’s point about the Goldilocks principle, getting kindness just right. Kindness is not all or nothing – it’s a very fluid concept that starts with a smile and often ends with mutual agreement and understanding. Kindness is about understanding that we’re all just people trying our best to succeed in the work world, and that’s enough.

Will you work with kindness today?


3 thoughts on “Kindness in the Workplace

  1. N.C –
    I’m delighted that my SmartBrief piece on kindness inspired your thinking and writing.

    Having spent lots of years in the for-profit sector and now in Board membership for non-profits, I have a slightly different take on the environment you describe! Lack of candor, not managing performance issues and avoiding conflict isn’t being kind. Frankly, it’s unkind. Whether an organization seeks to make a positive difference or a profit, people who work/volunteer there deserve to be treated with respect and honesty. Helping someone do their job better by providing them with the candid feedback to facilitate that happening is a requirement for effective leadership. The truly kind leader doesn’t hesitate to provide that feedback but does so in a tactful way that leaves people’s self-respect and confidence intact.


    1. Jane,

      I completely agree! I was hoping to comment that there is a misconception in the nonprofit workplace that manifests itself that way, unfortunately. People think that walking on egg shells around others is “nice” when that’s not the case at all. We need to get to an agreement that being kind means respecting each other professionally and personally, not false compliments.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!


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