STÉDILE, Rafael Francisco Neves. MARTINS, Evelyn Souto. The impact of kindness on companies. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 05, Ed. 03, Vol. 01, pp. 18-56. March 2020. ISSN: 2448-0959, Link de acesso: https://www.nucleodoconhecimento.com.br/business-administration/impact-of-kindness
- 1. INTRODUCTION
- 1.1 PROBLEM
- 1.2 OBJECTIVES
- 1.2.1 OVERALL OBJECTIVE
- 1.2.2 SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES
- 1.3 JUSTIFICATION
- 2. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
- 2.1 WHAT IS KINDNESS?
- 2.2 TYPES OF KINDNESS
- 2.2.1 SMALL KINDNESSES
- 2.2.2 GREAT KINDNESS
- 2.3 KINDNESSES IN ACTION
- 2.3.1 CONSIDERATION
- 2.3.2 APPRECIATION
- 2.3.3 GENTLENESS TO LISTEN
- 2.3.4 RESIGNATION NICESTITIES
- 2.4 KINDNESS IN LEADERSHIP
- 2.4.1 KINDNESSES OVER THE PHONE
- 2.4.2 HOSTS AND GUESTS
- 2.5 KINDNESS IN CORPORATE CULTURE
- 2.6 HUMANIST GLOBALIZATION
- 2.7 KINDNESS AS A SOURCE OF WELL-BEING TO THE PRACTITIONER
- 2.8 THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF KINDNESS
- 2.9 WAYS TO STIMULATE THE PRACTICE AND DISSEMINATION OF KINDNESS
- 2.9.1 CORPORATE LABEL
- 2.9.2 KINDNESS AT WORK
- 2.9.3 KINDNESS IS CONTAGIOUS
- 2.9.4 GIFTWORKS
- 2.9.5 BUILDING A GENTLE CULTURE
- 2.9.6 KINDNESS IN THE PROFESSIONALS OF THE FUTURE
- 2.9.7 WORLD DAY OF KINDNESS
- 3. METHODOLOGY
- 4. PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
- 4.1 QUESTIONNAIRE
- 4.2 INTERVIEW
This study investigates the impacts of kindness on companies. The concepts and types of kindness are shown in the theoretical framework as well as the importance of kindness, including in the organizational environment as well as the ways of stimulating and disseminating its practice. The empirical research, conducted through a questionnaire answered by 100 people and a directed interview, highlights the importance and impact of kindness. Thus, the results will be discussed and compared with the theory, highlighting the reflexes of the use of kindness, especially in companies.
Keywords: Kindness, well-being, productivity, management, people.
Harari (2015) estimates that humans emerged 200,000 years ago, and since then, social interactions have created an immeasurable variety of habits, customs, rules, values, principles, ways of communicating, of relating and also of being treated. Humanity developed more intensely from the moment the individual stopped living in isolation and the first societies, cities and peoples emerged. Group interaction promoted growth and development for people. Some ills also arose, miseries, wars. Living in society can bring benefits and harms. How to deal with this in a generalized way? Today, we live in a time in which we seek to enhance everything: profit, experiences, pleasures, consumption, discoveries. Melo (2017), states that changes happen with a speed never experienced by the human race and increase exponentially.
Charges are increasing in all areas of people’s lives. You need to study, work, support your family, etc. You hardly have time to stop and question the reason for all this. Is this whirlwind we call life worthwhile? So we face the challenge: how to grow and evolve in society, ethically, bringing progress and happiness to all? The use of kindness may be the answer to this dilemma. Harrison (2007) says that kindness makes the conversation about ethics more palpable, especially in companies. Most kindnesses cost almost nothing and cause changes that can generate significant results, creating a corporate culture that helps protect companies from ethical lapses, offenses among people in the workplace, and fraud. It will be treated here how kindness can impact companies and corporate environments and what this can represent for society.
Faced with so many social and professional challenges that people constantly face in the work environment and due to the increasing professional demands, the following research question is asked: what is the impact of the presence/absence of kindness in companies?
1.2.1 OVERALL OBJECTIVE
Show the impact of the use of kindness in companies.
1.2.2 SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES
- Analyze the concept and types of kindness in the view of authors and experts on the subject;
- Identify how kindness impacts people’s daily lives and society as a whole;
- To find out how professionals and clients perceive kindness;
- Analyze whether the kindness, in the corporate environment, in relation to the manager or leader, has an influence on deliveries, results and how this occurs;
- Identify ways to stimulate the exercise of kindness in the organizational environment and in future generations of professionals.
The most popular phrase of the urban preacher José Datrino, better known as Prophet Kindness, says that “kindness generates kindness”, but the opposite also applies, the impolidity, discourtesy and rudeness produce these same ills. To study the impact of kindness in organizations is to learn how the coexistence between people in the work environment can be lighter and more pleasant and what the result of this, since companies are composed of people who generate results. It is necessary to analyze and ascertain whether the way these people relate directly interferes with the product or service delivered as well as the way they are delivered.
2. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.1 WHAT IS KINDNESS?
Tiago (2015) comments that kindness is the great asset of the professional who wants to make a difference in the market to attract and retain customers and improve results, mainly because the lack of ethics in relationships is great, so that those who relate to empathy, cordiality and respect generate superpositive attitudes. More than that, kind people attract loyalty, which is the most sought after characteristic of companies today, because it provides profitability. According to Thrinidad (2015), cited by Tiago (2015, p. 16), being kind is much more than being polite, respectful, friendly, humorous or cordial, being kind should be a social duty, because the kindness positive reaction in anyone, no matter the environment. An act of kindness marks someone’s day as a gesture that favors well-being:
Kindness is so subtle that it is the first thing that is perceived when someone enters the door and greets everyone with a smile on their lips and the last thing to be forgotten, when that same someone says goodbye, leaving printed the personalized courtesy of this gesture.
Barros (2018, p.27) defines kindness as:
A particular way of thinking to act in coexistence. According to which the existence of any person – in real or potential interaction with whom you act – is a relevant factor in defining the limits that this agent will care about to avoid harm, sadness or discomfort.
Barros’ definition demonstrates the importance of thought, action and limits of action so that impacts do not cause harm, sadness or discomfort. Thinking and acting kindly is a choice within the dual character of people. The human being is naturally kind and mean, gentle and coarse, and thus his choices influence his evolution, as Comparato (2016, p. 473):
The idea of conceiving man as a being perpetually in fieri, and therefore ethically ambiguous, mixed angel and demon, capable, by his own initiative, of perfecting himself or degrading himself to the extreme, had already been affirmed by Aristotle: “Just as man is the best of animals when perfect, he is the worst of all when removed from law and justice.”
Cortella, quoted by Barros (2018), comments that we are all committed to helping to train people and enchant them for kindness, so that this virtue becomes a widespread reciprocity in everyone’s life, experiencing the purpose that people do their best not to produce voluntarily in other people, and in themselves, damage, sadness or discomfort. Cortella, quoted by Barros (2018, p.10), says that “Kindness needs and can be required, learned, taught, practiced, protected and shared; this is a series of actions that we, in some way, teachers or not, but always educators and educators, have to exercise in our daily lives.”
2.2 TYPES OF KINDNESS
2.2.1 SMALL KINDNESSES
Harrison (2007) says that small kindnesses are tangible, characteristic and specific behaviors, norms of reciprocity and traditions honored by time and that together create an ethical culture and form the structure of an organization contributing to its sustainability and reducing its vulnerability. The small kindnesses are the behaviors and attitudes that together contribute to the members of the organization in building standards of how people will act. They allow people in an organization to say to themselves, ‘this is how we do things around here,’ or, as the case may be, ‘that’s not how we do things around here’. Behaviors that create a unique and highly efficient culture are filtered through the commitment of the company’s largest leader to an organizationally leveled, non-hierarchical, and unpretentious environment.
These behaviors demonstrate how “small kindnesses are the foundations that set the tone for an organization that offers connectivity to its people and a reason to be – why we go to the office in the morning. These personal gestures/acts, when initiated, can become a positive cycle that contributes to a more pleasant environment, especially when the person is the largest leader of the company. For this cycle to begin, Harrison (2007, p.68) says that “leaders model gestures – ideally replicable and scalable – that can create a more developed foundation for a concordant culture.” Even with the gestures modeled and replicated, the small kindnesses alone may not be enough to build the long-awaited ethical culture, and thus another lever can be used by leaders: the use of great kindness.
2.2.2 GREAT KINDNESS
For Harrison (2007), a little kindness can turn into a great kindness. A network of stores that has an excellent receptionist, which is an example to be followed in the matter of kindness, when modeling gestures, creating a formal program for the function, and thus investing in the personal training of other professionals, the same behavior is implemented in other stores, thus creating a great kindness. Harrison’s definition of great kindness (2007, p. 69) is “every gesture that, from the beginning, involves costs, breaks existing rules, or requires the specific participation of others within the organization.”
There are other examples that are classified as great kindnesses that can be mentioned here: treats offered to customers and employees; volunteer program; scholarships offered to employees’ children; corporate social responsibility programs; the foundations which, by definition, are great kindnesses, among other possibilities. Harrison (2007, p. 70) adds that it is “impossible to perform culture changes only with great kindness. Great kindness without small kindnesses that sustain them lose much of their impact.”
2.3 KINDNESSES IN ACTION
Harrison (2007) states that the kindnesses offered put values into practice: values of the individual and the organization. The kindnesses can be grouped by interconnected themes:
Anyone who has been waiting too long to talk to someone knows how insulting a lack of consideration is, because this attitude says that this someone is not important and has a low priority. Being punctual is a kindness that counts, because it is respectful of the person who made your time available. In addition, people talk to others when they are respected or not and this creates a reputation for people and businesses. Respect must come first. Harrison (2007) conceptualizes respect as consideration for himself and for others.
Consideration of privacy, physical space, belongings and time is essential. It is important to have respect for the different points of view, philosophies, political vision, limitations and beliefs, recognizing the most intrinsic values of people through the treatment given to them. The most basic kindnesses are the ones that show the most respect and consideration. A “hello” and a “see you soon” are obvious. Not greeting people, even when crossing the corridor or the sidewalk, is the same as not considering them as members of society. First people, then things, strategies, etc.
Many companies invest a lot of resources and even do a good job with recognition programs, but many organizations have lost the immediacy and intimacy of spontaneous gestures of recognition. The small kindnesses are authentic, low cost, spontaneous and do not need superior authorization or prior planning, that is, they can be used frequently to recognize people. Nelson, quoted by Harrison (2007), says that recognition should be: immediate, because time is important and one should not delay praise. They need to be sincere and should be done by those who are truly recognizing as well as it is necessary to provide details of the realization, need to be done personally or should leave handwritten messages, should not mix with positivism with criticism and should be proactive, should be expected because of a perfect performance.
A recognition can be made through a simple “thank you” verbalized, a letter of thanks, an unexpected note praising or thanking. These actions make a difference in the daily life of any professional, and are therefore recommended. In addition to the ticket and letter, the compliment can follow by other means and have up to other recipients: the developer’s family can receive a copy of a positive evaluation or even the compliment can go attached to the payment statement, thanking the contribution of the developer. Praise and recognition should always be prioritized and Harrison (2007, p. 94) gives the hint: “Here is the kindness: if you see something that does not please you, write down and save feedback for another occasion”, when this is not done, there is a great chance to be remembered more for the criticisms made than for the compliments, causing stress and even fear in the people with whom you live.
2.3.3 GENTLENESS TO LISTEN
Everyone wants and likes to be heard, more than that, the human being is pleased with the benefits of being listened to with quality. Harrison (2007, p.103) states that “after physical survival, the greatest need of human beings is psychological survival – to be understood, to be confirmed, to be validated and to be estimated”. Listening is more than joining and understanding information; listening perceptibly is a sign of respect. Harrison (2007, p.103) assures that “anyone can improve their performance level by thinking strategically about listening and practicing efficient listening skills.” Like this
Criticize people by meddling in their situations; make faces or emit sounds of disapproval; ‘solve’ your problems with a quick suggestion; interrogate them to bring them to a predetermined conclusion; try to cheer them up by saying that things are not so bad (HARRISON, 2007, p. 105).
Considering this context, it is possible to affirm that many of the kindnesses in relation to the act of listening seem obvious, but always contribute in the sense that one is being truly listened to, among them: resisting the temptation to interrupt the interlocutor, valuing silence, trying to understand before trying to be understood and only giving advice when they are requested. Harrison (2007, p.105) exemplifies lack of kindness to listen, as mentioned before, and thus recommends that it is interesting to avoid making faces or emitting certain sounds of disapproval during communication. The ideal is to reach an agreement, because constructive criticism should be encouraged.
2.3.4 RESIGNATION NICESTITIES
Bob Hecht, quoted by Harrison (2007, p. 133), says that “the three greatest tragedies in a person’s world are death, divorce, and job loss.” Harrison (2007) points out that, for many people, the feeling of a resignation resembles that of death, as people identify intimately with what they do for a living. When people lose their jobs they also lose essential elements of their identities, such as income and physical income. Unfortunately, some even go into depression, even threatening their raison d’ing, presenting self-destructive, violent and even suicidal behaviors. Making this process easier and more humane is to make use of small and large kindnesses in the dismissal, which is the time when they are most needed. Harrison (2007, p. 134) is very assertive in saying:
Many companies do everything possible to avoid laying off employees. Sometimes, however, economic reality makes this impossible. When the dispensation of collaborators is imminent, small kindnesses can make all the difference. A simple managerial commitment to the small kindnesses during and immediately after a layoff does not interfere with the economic needs that forced her. Small kindnesses put into play during and after this which is the most difficult of management tasks – the act of turning off a collaborator – will signal the sensitivity and care of a leader, and a commitment to all who are observing. And here’s a critical point: everyone – and I say ‘everyone’ – is watching during and after a staff cut. This is not the time for an administrative myopia.
A good example is That of Agilent, a subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard, which in 2001, despite having a permanent employment culture, was forced to eliminate 4,000 employees, which corresponded to 9% of the company, due to an economic decline that hit it. The president of the company presented three basic rules: 1) Employees should be notified only by their direct managers, 2) Managers had to be clear and honest; 3) Decisions of the courts should be based on published criteria. Agilent employees became aware of the quarterly loss of R$ 219 million directly by the company’s CEO, through the corporate sound system, so that they did not know about the cuts by the media. He presented the poor economic state of the business, recognized the sacrifices that employees had already made and was clear in detailing the number of people who could lose their jobs, the origin of the numbers and how the painful process would be.
This kindness in making the announcement directly and personally caused the process to begin on the right foot. Agilent conducted the process as transparently as possible. The criteria on which the choice decisions were based were published on the corporate intranet, for access by all employees. Agilent sought maximum justice and minimal ambiguity in the process, providing training to more than 3,000 managers, lasting 1 full day. During this period they played roles and practiced the correct and incorrect ways of firing people the day immediately before the event. Harrison (2007, p. 138) says that “they were taught how to respond non-reactively and empathize with a collaborator’s emotional expressions, which can be intense.”
Agilent found the number of layoffs regrettable, but not a reason to be ashamed. Due to the delicate context, it was the alternative they found. Many of the dismissed employees wrote to the company’s president saying that they were satisfied, not with the outcome of the process, but with the justice and kindness with which it was conducted. Good prior planning is essential for a dismissal to be carefully choreographed, avoiding slippage. This is not the time for a manager to be spontaneous. If there are, for example, 50 things that can go wrong in the dismissal and the manager was able to think of 49 of them, anticipating positive ways to reappoint the resignation, he was a genius. Harrison (2007, p. 145) summarizes the minimum requirements of kindness in the dismissal of employees in five values:
1º) A fair and preferably transparent selection process. This means objective and easily understandable standards.
2º) A notification given personally in a cordial meeting and with the presence of the immediate supervisor of the fired employee.
3º) Sensitivity to the logistics of the notification process.
4º) Sensitivity with respect to the reference letter. The disconnected employee should know exactly what the company will say to potential employers. This should be done in writing, so that both parties are satisfied.
5º) Accessibility of the administration to colleagues maintained.
A loss of employment, although bad and difficult, always ends up being accepted by people, however, it should be mentioned that the unacceptable and hardly forgiven is a process of staff reduction not being conducted with a focus on human dignity. We all have an obligation to try to minimize the risks of something being considered an affront to individual dignity. In an environment in which kindness prevails, disconnected employees will tend to touch their life on more easily, as opposed to a shutdown conducted with a lack of dignity, since it will traumatize the person for the rest of their lives, even after having conformed to the shutdown.
2.4 KINDNESS IN LEADERSHIP
Melo (2017), defines leadership as the intentional influence that is evidenced by one person over others, attracting the commitment of followers voluntarily, leading them to fight for shared aspirations. To lead is to give a good cause for which people want to fight, in any area of life, contributing and creating ways for people to make extraordinary things happen. In doing so, the leader will happily get people to accomplish what they would normally suffer to do, that is, work at the level of overcoming. To attract followers voluntarily, so that they joyfully perform an activity, however painful, the leader can avail himself of the gentleness of executive humility described by Harrison (2007). Harrison (2007, p. 112) speaks of humility in leadership to combat executive arrogance in companies:
Many leaders let their authority rise to their heads. It produces a sense of right of ownership. All this behavior does is distance these executives from their colleagues and customers and, ultimately, from their business. As much as you can inflate your egos, arrogance empties others around them.
Harrison (2007) comments that many executives confuse having privileges with arrogance. It is perfectly possible to have the privileges inherent in the executive position maintaining good relationships of cordiality, education, respect, empathy and compassion for ordinary managers and employees. There are executives who disdain all kinds of executive arrogance and are not less efficient leaders. Arrogance is counterproductive in organizations.
2.4.1 KINDNESSES OVER THE PHONE
There are executives who answer their own calls, however much there is a phone call by mistake or an insistent salesman, nothing beats the commitment to reduce arrogance. Harrison (2007, p. 113) states that by answering his own calls, the executive passes the following message:
I consider your connection very important and I don’t want to waste your time dealing with an intermediary. However, I want you to respect my time. That means identifying immediately, going straight to the point and, if I say I’m not interested, respect my decision.
This is directly related to reputation, as people comment and the subject spreads. It is a simple gesture that reinforces an open, confident and appropriate culture.
2.4.2 HOSTS AND GUESTS
Considering that the work environment is a reservoir of social interactions, Harrison (2007) points out that in any social interaction you either operate as a host or as a guest and there are expectations for each role. The manager who does not understand this fails greatly in the way of interacting with people. Interpersonal conflicts in companies, in many times, may be related to non-compliance with host/guest obligations. When a manager convenes a meeting, he acts as the host and the people who attend the meeting are his guests. This goes even for those meetings whose attendance is mandatory.
The host, wherever it is, even at work, has to make the guests feel well received. Guests also have their responsibilities, such as responding immediately to the invitation, being punctual, dressing appropriately and actively participating. Harrison (2007) also instructs to adopt the principle that, when convening a meeting, be the first to arrive and the last to get up to leave, because it is a subtle sign of humility and respect, a kindness as powerful as a handshake and this is to demonstrate that the host does not consider himself better or superior to the guests , especially when they are your collaborators.
2.5 KINDNESS IN CORPORATE CULTURE
When a person is passionate about their work, they become part of it and vice versa. For many collaborators, the highest expression of their commitment is to make a difference through good work and Harrison (2007, p. 147) says that “kindnesses stimulate the transformation of common and daily forms into excellent and rare” and “are the way for individuals and organizations to express themselves and even sustain the very meaning of their raison d’ing.” The kindnesses exist in various sizes, from small to larger. Harrison (2007) comments that the small kindnesses in organizations, when they begin to become a part of the company, becoming great institutionalized kindnesses, being practiced not only by people, but by the company.
Kindnesses are fundamentally related to an individual’s commitment to doing the right thing. Because of this basic instruction, I cannot conceive an efficient and authentic CSR program in the absence of a culture of small kindness (HARRISON, 2007, p. 158).
Many ideas start with small kindnesses and end up evolving into something much greater, such as programs that encourage people to act kindly. There are also great kindnesses that evolve and go beyond the company’s boundaries, such as corporate social responsibility – RSC. Although the nices go hand in hand with the RSC, these two work at different levels. The kindnesses spring from the values of a person, while the RSC appears from the values of a company. Just as small kindnesses can evolve into great, leaders can perform gestures that become great deeds.
2.6 HUMANIST GLOBALIZATION
Comparato (2016, p. 434), analyzing the figures provided by the UN – United Nations – in the 2004 Human Development Report on demographic explosion, hunger, environmental sustainability and economic and social inequality in the world, comments:
The question of the survival of our species is now, therefore, inescapable, for all men of conscience and responsibility. Humanity will only be able to face this formidable challenge if it knows how to find a form of union in which all the peoples of the world can live free and equal in dignity and rights.
Comparato (2016, p.435) also points out that the dramas currently experienced have historical origin:
Until the advent of the modern era in the West, social life has always been conceived as being based on altruism and the supremacy of the common good over private interest. Already at the beginning of the sixteenth century, however, the Machiavellian preaching of a ‘policy of results’, to be conducted on the basis of any means, opened the first ethical fracture between private life and public life. The prince, in his capacity as a hero situated above the common of mortals, did not submit to the general ethics, in force for his subjects. At the same time, the insistence of Protestant theology on the uselessness of ‘good works’ for eternal salvation, and the resumption of a certain vetertestamentary conception that success in the affairs of this world would be a premonitory sign that the faithful are included in the list of the Lord’s elect, served unquestionably as a moral justification for an individualistic lifestyle, in which the general carelessness with social inequalities prevailed.
Comparato (2016, p. 437) comments that, since the Industrial Revolution, inequalities have increased more and more, with the riches produced becoming increasingly concentrated in a smaller group of people and states that “another world is possible: humanistic globalization”. Comparato (2016, p. 438) adds that:
In direct contradiction to the imperialist and totalitarian spirit, dominant in his time, Mahatma Gandhi, by reascling the sacred principle of altruism, the ethical foundation of the great religions, in the East and in the West, preached tirelessly, including with his own death, integral respect for Life, in all its modalities. Thanks to the fruitful and regenerating influence of these great ethical values, the great building of the universal system of human rights was built, walk by floor.
Comparato (2016, p. 438) further clarifies:
It should be emphasized, however, that humanistic globalization does not in any way mean contempt for technological knowledge, or the non-recognition of its irreplaceable role in the evolutionary process of the human species. Technique and ethics are necessarily complemented to drive peoples and civilizations together. Technology, divorced from ethics, leads to the inevitable fracture of humanity. Ethics, ignorant of technological knowledge, is inefficient and empty. The great humanization project of the world requires that science and technology are finally recognized as a heritage of humanity, therefore insusceptible from any kind of appropriation, private or state.
This world project is described by Comparato (2016) as being freer, fairer and more supportive, based on ethics.
2.7 KINDNESS AS A SOURCE OF WELL-BEING TO THE PRACTITIONER
Ferreira (2018), says that it is possible and essential for anyone to reduce the weight of everyday life. Although life is very difficult, lightness contributes a lot to people to go through difficulties more easily. Ferreira (2018, p. 7) comments that being light is “living with less weight in the soul, less junk in luggage, less roughness in words and gestures, less sourness, less haste and consumerism”. Anthropologist Oliver Scott Curry et al (2018), professor at the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, researched the effects of the practice of kindness on the actor’s well-being. The 27 studies conducted had 4,045 participants from Canada, the United States, Europe, South Africa, Korea and Vanuatu.
During the study, they practiced acts of kindness, kindness and prosocial spending in order to test the hypothesis that kindness causes well-being. The results provided a series of explanations for social, cooperative and altruistic human development. Curry et al (2018), with their research, concluded that people are happy to help family, friends, community members, their spouses and even strangers. The effect may be greater for certain types of helpers and by helping certain types of people. The research helps in understanding the causes and consequences of kindness, besides helping professionals to maximize the effectiveness of kindness.
2.8 THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF KINDNESS
Neuroscientist O’Connor (2018) says that kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition and fills the divisions of culture, religion, politics, gender and social class. The emergence of neuroscience, a scientific study of the nervous system, has brought new ways of answering questions such as how important kindness is. O’Connor (2018) explains that:
The discovery of mirror neurons, a cluster of neurons in the brain that helps us connect emotionally with other people, responds sympathetically to others and allows us to anticipate other intentions that are now believed to be the basis of human empathy.
O’Connor (2018) states that kindness is the engine for personal growth:
Each person is a mirror of their environment which, in turn, is mirrored by their own behavior. This underlies the powerful phenomenon of social contagion – that information, ideas and behaviors, including kindness, can spread through networks of people in the same way as infectious diseases. For this reason, giving and receiving kindness can have an infectious effect. Research also shows that optimal learning takes place in an environment that is creative, inclusive, rewarding and reinforced by firm and healthy boundaries, in an environment that is amiable. Even those in deep suffering due to imprisonment, addiction, financial worries and high anxiety also benefit enormously from a creative, inclusive and delimited environment. What to do when we come across rudeness? Behaviors including anxiety, anger and rudeness can also spread through networks of people in the same way as infectious diseases. The antidote to not getting infected with these miserable states is to be aware that every action should be consciously chosen, not an emotional response.
O’Connor (2018) explains why kindness is so important:
This question can be answered in the context in which every human being is unique because each of us represents a singularly complex brain, so complex that, in all history, no human brain can be identical. This is because the unique combination of about 100 trillion tiny brain connections (synapses) that grow and change throughout life is a continuous work in progress from conception to death. In this way, each of us ‘evolves’ as true individuals as each of us makes our journey through life. Kindness is the green light to continue; if you are not open to giving and receiving kindness, then you may not be growing in the same way, humanity will only evolve making room for each individual to express his intellectual and spiritual evolution to the fullest, in this way the evolution of the human race is all about being open to giving and receiving.
2.9 WAYS TO STIMULATE THE PRACTICE AND DISSEMINATION OF KINDNESS
2.9.1 CORPORATE LABEL
Araújo (2004, p. 1) defines etiquette as “a set of assumptions, consecrated by the various social groups, that seek harmonious coexistence and understanding among people. It is the code of good living.” Araújo (2004), points out that the human being needs to relate frequently to other people, however, depending on the type of relationships that will be built, happiness or frustration can be installed, but inevitably other people will be involved in this process. For a win-win relationship, that is, for our expectations to result in the well-being of the other, the self-esteem of all people involved must be preserved.
This must be constantly sought for relationships to remain harmonious. Expectations may differ depending on the location, context, and group of people you are in. Patterns of behavior and relationships change when you’re at home for when you’re in the workplace. It is as if we play a role when we are in our professional activity and set aside our true identity to resume it only when we return home at the end of the day. Araújo (2004, p. 2) adds:
When we choose to choose a code of behavior that respects our interlocutor as a person, as a unique and unique individuality, we have as a consequence a healthier, honest and pleasant life for ourselves, for our co-workers and for others, adding much to our effectiveness as men and women of business. No human being has everything he needs to do. We all need things that others have to offer, just as we have talents of great value that we can share.
Araújo (2004), discusses in his book “Empresarial Etiquette – Being Well Educated is”, about how patterns of behaviors in various everyday situations result in the practice of good manners when relating in meetings, corridors and unexpected situations. It is essential to always know how to choose the right behavior for each occasion. Human relationships are very important to everyone. Araújo (2004), says that research from Harvard University indicates that 15% of professional success is due to technical capacity and that 85% is due to behavioral skills of interpersonal relationships. Araújo (2004, p. 3) clarifies:
Those who know and apply good manners and courtesy as tools in their daily relationships learn to recognize and demonstrate the importance of others by accepting them as they are. You know that you must not want to modify the other and that you should seek your own improvement in a continuous process. It thus fully responds to the universal human desire, which is to feel important, recognized, valued and accepted. But there’s no point in being courteous and gentle from the mouth out. That’s all hypocrisy is achieved. Respect for others is manifested through sincere and true attitudes, based on certain postures: convince yourself that other people are really important; turn to the needs and desires of the other; seek a level relationship, without posture of haughtiness.
To relate to other people is to follow the principle of the mirror, in which the attitudes of the other is a reflection of our behavior. Therefore, we must adopt attitudes and actions that we want to receive from others.
2.9.2 KINDNESS AT WORK
Tiago (2015) says that behavior is conditioning, so that it is possible to create a behavior based on cordiality, respect, solidarity with other people and kindness. According to Thrinidad (2015), cited by Tiago (2015, p. 17), “learning to be kind at work, besides being strategic, helps to form allies in an environment fostered by competition, haste and stress”. Tiago (2015), comments that the human being is capable of generating positive feelings for other people and has the ability to put them into practice. Putting yourself in the place of the other makes things easier, so Tiago (2015, p.2 3) stresses that “we all have to know the definition of the word empathy and multiply it”. The habit of constantly relating to co-workers, friends or family members ends up making us stop being respectful and cordial and this is a mistake.
Tiago (2015, p. 24) points out that “the most intolerant of creatures ends up being overcome by tiredness by the one who is determined, safe and with a lot of lightness of mind”. That’s why it’s so important that we be resilient to staying on the purpose of kindness, especially in the workplace, which is where we spend most of our lives. Tiago (2015, p. 25) states that “we are all intelligent and able to develop various skills, especially humility and kindness.” Although it is complicated in the beginning, it is worth it, because of the gratification of having proven by itself that it is possible to carry out your activities and at the same time do good for yourself and for other people and still contribute to the growth of all. Tiago (2015, p. 26) adds:
Let’s preach peace within corporations and avoid anger. It is much better to share pleasant moments than to stress and contribute to bad hours of interpersonal relationships. The process of harmonic development must begin within ourselves. We should not expect an attitude of others as if others who have to take the match always. Kick-start and start a campaign of good education and friendliness. We will do everything to create healthy friendships and relationships in the sector in which we work, ask the colleague how was his day, if he slept well, thank, wish good work and congratulate him for something accomplished with care and dedication! Thanking and asking for something with the kind “please” also ennobles and dignifies small gestures. Among other things that can be said, we can lift people’s spirits, relax and know how to impose limits without abusing trust.
To deserve kindness is to facilitate coexistence without extrapolating common sense and hurt intimacy not being an inconvenient, indiscreet and gossipy person, especially in the workplace. Many people cannot unlink the personal side of the professional, but Tiago (2015, p. 30) points out that it is possible not to mix them recognizing humanity and friendship in people:
How to do then not to mix them? The answer is within each and is non-transferable. It can be complex or quite simple: with the construction of altruism and the (trans) formation of a good character. You know when people have these virtues and qualities. It is easy to see that there are worthy human beings when they show affection and compassion for the pain of others; although empathy is a merit of the few, it should be worked on in corporations, as it is a guideline for personal satisfaction (…). Sometimes the problem is so serious that we can’t leave it outside. Wherever we go, he (the problem) will be there (…). Just don’t get upset, because taking the problems with us is normal and natural. No one is immune to bad weather and hardship. So this story is quite relative. Without that one! Everyone has the right to cry and feel frustrated during office hours! Everyone can take time off to breathe and have some water. We do our time and know when it’s time to clear the head. It is up to the good leader to know how to conduct the situation with discernment and not produce a feeling of guilt in his team, leaving the employee at ease to remake himself and feel protected by the company. After all, no one produces without being in a harmonious and tranquil state of mind.
People have feelings and are not machines, so the production of each employee is driven by rationality and ability to manage emotionally. Tiago (2015, p. 34) points out that “everyone wants affection and wants to feel loved.” Solidarity opens doors to friendship and humanization moves a team in a favorable way with results that make a leader be remembered as a manager who deserved the position he occupies.
2.9.3 KINDNESS IS CONTAGIOUS
Taylor (2018) says that just as bad behavior tends to spread, good behaviors also spread, so kindness becomes contagious. Taylor (2018) highlights the research conducted by psychologist Jamil Zaki of Stanford University (USA) on Positive Compliance, which demonstrates how to make kindness a fundamental principle of the company. In this research, “participants who believed others were generous became more generous,” suggesting that “kindness is contagious and can cascade among people, taking new forms along the way.” For Taylor (2018), one of the ways to achieve corporate goals is largely a matter of policies and procedures, including kindness as a guideline.
The way to unleash kindness in an organization is to treat it as something contagious and create conditions under which everyone can capture it. There is no manual that describes how to build a culture of connection and compassion among people, and thus, to influence the behavior of thousands of people in an organization, one must convince employees of all ranks to unite in a grassroots movement that treats kindness as something contagious, creating a progressive chain of kind actions. Taylor (2018) says that there is no scientific process, that is, no algorithm that inspires employees to do extraordinary things.
The only way to achieve this is by educating people, encouraging them, inciting them, and giving them permission to take advantage of opportunities to be kind. Moreover, according to Taylor (2018), when employees are motivated by a genuine pride in what they do, they start to show kindness for customers, that is, pride in the brand of the company that works is more important than one thinks and provides an extraordinary experience in serving the company’s customers. You can’t order employees to be kind, but it’s possible to unleash a chain of contagion of kindness within the company.
Brandão (2017) states that when companies understand that they need to awaken the full potential of people, they create a differential in the market, and for this, it is necessary to innovate, think outside the box. Angelou, quoted by Brandão (2017), says that “people will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Giftworks help keep people engaged, with sparkle in their eyes and smile emblazoned on their faces through a personalized treat or a gift that has special importance for those who receive it. It may seem utopian at first, but Brandão (2017) states that giftwork companies gain competitive advantage, with profitability of 11.1%, even in times of crisis, while companies without the concept of giftworks generated a return of only 3.8% (Ru Investisselment Group – Study 1998-2010 – USA). Brandão (2017) states that:
The performance of companies with a high level of trust counts on increasing: productivity, demand and level of employees, product quality, innovation, ability to take risks, collaboration and customer satisfaction. And the decrease in Turnover, resistance to change, health-related costs and number of work-related accidents.
Brandão (2017) details what giftwork is:
Generate kindness from a treat to your led with low cost and meaning for those who are receiving. There is a cycle for the giftwork to happen, with the following steps: 1st – Perceive (giftwork of the employee); 2nd – Select (an opportunity for the employee); 3rd – Elaborate (the practice of giftwork); 4th – Present (practice with the spirit giftwork). The coolest thing about this culture is that over time all people are thinking about how they could make each other’s day, or a situation more special, and that’s possible. Imagine now this culture in your company, what could improve?
Brandão (2017) exemplifies:
At BB Mapfre, an executive was called to the director’s office to be notified of her promotion. She was very moved and said that she was from a humble family and that she was the only one who had come to have a career and so she really wanted her mother to be there at that time. Years later, she was summoned to the principal’s office, but upon getting there was her mother with the director who broke the news of her promotion. Her principal invited the executive’s mother because she knew how much that would mean to her. As you can see, the director realized what was important to the employee, what had value and what would bring great satisfaction and generate a feeling of great happiness when receiving. The maximum that this director spent was the value of the taxi referring to the transport of the mother to the company. But what he generated is priced? That we can increasingly generate this virtuous cycle within our organizations, have you thought about what you can do to generate this cycle in the company? Have you ever thought that you can generate giftworks from now on?
2.9.5 BUILDING A GENTLE CULTURE
For Bremer (2015) there are three types of organizational cultures that are classified according to the degree of engagement of people. In the Western world, there has been an increasing number of disinterested and unhappy people at work, which has increased the number of layoffs, showing that managers need to look at their employees through the lens of gentle leadership, which involves the need to make people give the best of themselves in a culture in which kindness prevails.
The three types of culture are related to the three types of people at work: co-workers, the uncomed, and the subversive. Co-workers are emotionally involved with work, are happy, collaborate, embrace change, and are motivated by something other than just performance. People like this feel a deep connection with the company, colleagues and manager and this involvement is represented every day through kindness. Bremer (2015) mentions that:
Co-workers work for organizations and leaders who encourage, train, and develop these gentle behaviors as the highest expression of being and doing well at work. These leaders create kind or virtuous organizations. Most engagement surveys call these people engaged. Currently, between 15 and 30% of the Western workforce is engaged or contributing.
The uncons engaged do the least required in their work, are more focused on the rewards they can get than on the contributions they can offer, are driven more by compliance than by collaboration and creativity. These uninjured people, according to Bremer (2015), “work for Deficit Mindset managers who focus on control, efficiency and performance, rather than praising kindness and compassion.” Paradoxically, these people do not perform well, despite having performance as a focus, as they rarely experience gentle leadership. Bremer (2015), adds that 50 to 60% of the workforce are un engage, which corresponds to the “largest number in history and it is not by chance that we see the Western market under the highest level of compliance and regulation in its history”.
The subversives do not only encompass a group of unhappy people, they act at work by undermining or sabotaging their colleagues, by simple opposition to positive change. Bremer (2015) states that the subversives often experienced the opposite of kindness at work, which is cruelty, or even the cruelty of a leader or an indifferent and loveless system, converted into bullying and violence. The type of culture and leadership permeates the three types of people at work: the co-workers are inserted in a culture that has kindness as the norm; the uncomed are inserted in a culture in which, at times, it is gentle and in others it is coarse and the subversives are inserted in a culture that has intimidation and cruelty as a rule. Bremer (2015) shows that it is possible to build a culture of kindness through positive leadership and appreciative research. The kind and positive leaders, according to Brumer (2015), are those who:
– Take the time to discover and expand their unique strengths, as a company, as teams and as individuals, through collaborative approaches of entire groups, such as Appreciative Research.
– Instead of spending time preventing bad things from happening, Gentle Leaders spend time looking for good in their organizations and how to expand good to grow. So instead of trying to figure out the causes of rudeness, they look for great examples of kindness – the opposite of rudeness – and work with their staff to co-create a Culture of Kindness, discovering and expanding what works and what’s good.
– Take time to engage your staff with your heart, which means taking you out of your activity regularly to discuss issues that are deeply important to them. Gentle leaders involve their people in shaping the future of the organization, starting with questions like who we are, what we care about, and what is our destiny together?
– They treat all people like a unique human being, and help each person to be more who they are exclusively at work and still manage to align these talent differences around authentic relationships and high-trust teamwork. Loving leaders build and sustain a supportive and compassionate community at the heart of the organization.
Traditional business improvement methodologies focus on problems and what is not working and try to fix them, which almost always does not work or results in the delivery of low results, because it creates situations of mistrust and culpability, breaking the connections between people who are a source of creativity and cooperation in companies. Focusing on the problem breaks creative and innovative thinking and makes it difficult to look outside the box. Bremer (2015) comments that “the driver of this behavior is fear, and the goal is to control and, unfortunately, many of our managers operate from this mentality because that’s what they learned.” Appreciative Research seeks to find out what people like most about each other as team members or customers, connecting people from authentic and engaging conversations around positive and inspiring stories. Bremer (2015), adds that:
Listening to these stories gives hope and releases creative energy; First, discover the unique strengths of the organization, team, or service. Then, glimpse new possibilities by building this positive core and aligning the organization around these strengths. As people on the “ground floor” are involved in contributing to the design of change, they develop a high degree of involvement with what is proposed, and you see a rich and diverse range of ideas and possibilities emerging.
The process is very interactive, and thus has participants who interview each other, identifying experiences and strengths from positive and meaningful stories. Bremer (2015), details the construction of Appreciative Research around four conversations:
1st – Discovery: When you have experienced random acts of kindness in our organization and what are the themes about what they are, how they occur and why? 2nd – Dream: What is possible if we extend our random acts of kindness, so that this becomes the normal experience for us, not only random, but as part of the daily experience as a Culture of Kindness. What are the opportunities? Project: What will we decide to do to expand our forces of kindness, including what existing practices we will extend, what will we stop doing and what new things will we do? 4th – Delivery: What will be our priorities and action plan to implement our Culture of Kindness?
2.9.6 KINDNESS IN THE PROFESSIONALS OF THE FUTURE
How can we contribute to the kind of future generations of professionals? Rodrigues (2019), shows the good example of the pedagogue Gisele Masotti, professor of the Municipal School of Basic Education Benedicta Alzira de Moraes Camunhas, who received the award from the Municipality of Jundiaí-SP of innovative professionals within the public school system. The project is called “Kindness: be kind”. He had the participation of his 4-year-old students and was intended to rescue the simple gestures of respect between the children and everyone around him.
The project yielded more fruit than expected, as it totally transformed students’ behavior in the classroom and even impacted life in their homes, in the relationship with parents and family members. The project was conducted throughout 2018, divided into stages that had drawings, readings, videos and conversation wheels in order to teach the real meaning of kindness to students. The students’ emotions were also worked out, because it is considered to be a fundamental part for the kindness to be practiced. Masotti, quoted by Rodrigues (2019), says that:
The project sought to create healthier relationships, rescue simple gestures such as saying a good day, a thank you, an apology. But what I wanted most is for you to get off the school walls, because you see violence, bigotry and aggression among people. People walk in a hurry, without listening to the other (…). Young children have difficulty expressing and understanding their own emotions. It’s normal to feel angry, but what to do with that anger? I also talked about love and affection for each other. What can we do to make each other feel happy?
One of the clearest examples of good results is how the class began to behave to respect the student Rafael, who has Down Syndrome and autism:
He needed an environment with as little noise as possible, so I made a wheel and explained it to them, said if they made noise he would cry. And they were touched. For the rest of the year they were silent in the room, welcoming Rafael. And the child at that age we know how it is, speaks loudly, likes to express themselves. It was wonderful.
Masotti also reports that the students’ parents began to comment that their children began to be kinder and more helpful in their homes, to treat their classmates better, including sharing toys with them and being more caring with domestic animals. The pedagogue says that, without being asked, the students helped the minors who did not reach the bathroom faucet to wash their hands or even helped the schoolgirl who did not know how to tie the shoelace. Rodrigues (2019), adds that, at the end of the year, some results were presented at the school, being the parents’ testimonials, drawings and photos.
Masotti, read from Rodrigues (2019), comments that the student Rafael’s mother was surprised. Her perceptions point to the following about the role of kindness in this context: “She told me that she did not imagine that her colleagues liked her son so much and even cried emotionally to see how much the children were welcoming Rafael.” Masotti concluded, thus, taking the mother’s account into consideration in her analysis, that the initiative profoundly impacted the children’s lives, as they replicated the teachings in their various relationship circles, then influencing other people to be kind.
2.9.7 WORLD DAY OF KINDNESS
According to the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil (2015), November 13 is considered the world day of kindness. The idea came at a conference in Tokyo, held in 1996, which brought together groups that propagated the idea of kindness. The movement was officially created in 2000 with the intention of inspiring people to create a kinder world. Promoting actions to stimulate kindness on this date is one of the ways to propagate kindness.
The research is theoretical-empirical and has a sample built through the author’s own network of relationships. The questionnaire was answered by 100 people, and after that, the semi-structured interview was personally collected, on 23.07.2019, with one of the reference professionals in kindness that was most mentioned in the answer to question four of the questionnaire. The research was limited to the author’s network of relationships, and thus the questions were answered by professionals from the financial sector, banking, audit, third sector, public officials, service provision and entrepreneurs. The research data are quantitative and will be treated statistically through data and graphs generated by the Survey Monkey tool, and also qualitative, treated by transcribing the result of the interview.
4. PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
The answers of the 100 (100) participants of the semi-structured questionnaire will be presented and discussed below. They were collected using the Survey Monkey tool. The first question questioned whether the definition of kindness is something clear to the respondent, that is, if he could say what kindness is. 94% answered “yes”, 1% answered “no” and 5% answered “more or less”. The vast majority of respondents were convinced of the definition of kindness. This is critical to the next questions that will be answered. Although the respondents are convinced of the concept of kindness, the definitions brought by Cortella and Barros (2018) demonstrate something very complex, that is, that most respondents may have no idea of depth, considering that kindness involves the importance of thought, action and limits of action to experience the purpose that people do their best not to produce in other people and themselves , the damage, the sadness or the discomfort.
The second question asked about the respondent’s perception, either as a client or as a professional, about the existence of kindness in companies: 76% answered that “there is very little”, 24% said that “it exists most of the time”, no respondent indicated that “it does not exist” or that “it exists fully”. The vast majority of respondents realize that there is very little kindness in companies, which is unfortunate, considering that Harrison (2007) points out that kindness makes the conversation about ethics more palpable, especially in companies. Most kindnesses cost almost nothing and represent changes that can produce great results, including a corporate culture that helps protect companies from ethical lapses, workplace offenses, and fraud. The kindnesses offered put values into practice, whether they are of the individual or belonging to the organization.
There is very little kindness for 76% of respondents indicates that, in their view, companies could have better values, better suited to people’s needs. There is an immeasurable field of opportunities for customers and employees to perceive, feel and receive kindness. It is a waste of opportunities, mainly because Thrinidad, cited by Tiago (2015), points out that being kind at work is strategic and helps to form allies in an environment where there is competition, haste and stress. The third question aimed to assess the respondent’s perception of the degree of influence on financial results and productivity of investments in actions and policies to increase the practice of kindness among employees. 98% answered that they understand that it provides greater financial results and productivity, 2% answered that there is no influence and none of the respondents said they perceived financial results and productivity on a smaller scale.
The vast majority, 98%, said that investments in actions and policies to increase the practice of kindness among employees would increase financial results and productivity. This confirms what was commented on in the previous question, the second, with great waste of opportunities, opportunities that kindness could generate. Curry et al (2018), Ferreira (2018), O’Connor (2018), Tiago (2015) and Taylor (2018) affirm that kindness can help personal growth and improve people’s well-being, satisfaction and happiness, and, in addition, 98% of respondents say that kindness can increase financial results and productivity. Not being kind is scorning happiness and wasting opportunities, resources, and riches that could be generated. That’s why Tiago (2015) states that kindness is the great asset of the professional who wants to make a difference in the market to attract and retain customers and improve results.
Through kindness, the possibilities of building the world described by Comparato (2016) are increased: a freer, fairer and more solidary world, based on ethics. Actions to promote kindness can begin, for example, with a derisory investment in the celebration of the world day of kindness, with the encouragement of simple actions that can become habits when repeated on the other days of the year. The fourth question was asked in order to raise the name of a professional to be possibly interviewed, as in fact occurred and will be detailed in the next item of this study. The respondent was asked to name a professional with whom he or she has worked, which, in his understanding, is a reference in kindness. Among the most cited people, in the first place, with 7% of the indications, was the author of this article, in second place, with 6% of the indications, Renata Geiser Mantarro was cited, who was interviewed by the author whose transcription of the interview is in item 4.2. of this article.
The fifth and final question aimed to gauge a self-assessment of the respondent about how much he considers himself a kind person. 47% answered that “they consider themselves a little kind”, 45% answered that “they consider that they have an above average kindness”, 6% answered that “they consider themselves a reference in kindness” and 2% answered that “they do not consider themselves a kind person”. The way 47% of respondents see themselves is that they are a little kind, that is, they could be more, added to the 2% of those who are generally not kind, are almost half of the respondents. Why aren’t they nicer? Considering that 94% know what kindness is, 76% say that there is little kindness in companies, Curry et al (2018) says that kindness brings happiness and 98% say that kindness increases results and productivity: not being kind is to fail to take advantage of the potential that one has in companies and even in life itself, potential for productivity, results, quality of life and happiness. Being kind is an excellent business!
The result of the last question reinforces The Comparison’s (2016) that thinking and acting gently is a choice within the dual character of people (kind/rude) and their choices influence their evolution. You have to want, choose and decide to be kind, daily. Tiago (2015) states that behavior is conditioning, so that it is possible to create a more gentle, cordial, respectful and supportive behavior. Cortella’s words, quoted by Barros (2018), that we are all committed to helping to train people and enchant them for kindness, so that this virtue becomes a widespread reciprocity in everyone’s life, shows us that being kind is an option that must be made every day, for each of us. This requires persistence, dedication and effort, which certainly provides excellent results.
The analysis of the answers to the fourth question of the questionnaire showed that a larger portion of the respondents consider Renata Geiser Mantarro a professional who is a reference in kindness. The following will be presented the transcript of the interview, held on 23.07.2019, which will be commented on in the sequence. Renata is director of BBI – Banco Bradesco Investimentos and was executive superintendent of Banco Bradesco’s internal audit in the areas of information technology and business. He studied MBA in Strategic Business Management at Fundação Getúlio Vargas – FGV, Management Development at IESE Business School – University of Navarra, has a postgraduate degree in Strategic Management from fundação Instituto de Administração – FIA, international MBA in Management Program from Euromed Marseille (France), MBA in Information Technology from the University of São Paulo – USP and postgraduate in International Business from Mackenzie Presbyterian University.
The interview was conducted in the city of São Paulo, during a lunch, in a restaurant on Avenida Cidade Jardim. I had the opportunity to work as an internal auditor in Renata’s team throughout 2017. Renata was flattered when I presented her with the answers to the questionnaire and informed her that she is considered a reference in kindness. I said that even after eighteen months since she was transferred to the BBI and stopped working in the Department of Internal Audit, it is common for me to witness people remember her with joy and relive stories, seeking inspiration on how to conduct situations and activities, however complex they may be and I verbalized that Renata is a person who is missing. I exemplified, to Renata, that I learned from third parties that, months after her transfer, she sent flowers on the birthday of the employee who cleans the department.
Some of my co-workers have also happily told me that they received flowers from Renata on their birthday. I gave Renata several other examples of stories I lived and heard about her kindness. Renata remained smiling to hear from me that the seed of kindness she planted among those working in the Department of Internal Audit sprouted and continues to grow. I recalled and commented that, at the time she took over the superintendence of the business audit, with approximately 150 professionals, including auditors, coordinators and audit managers, she called one by one for a friendly conversation, a real chat, to get to know the employee better and vice versa. Our dialogue lasted more than two hours and other colleagues and friends also commented on their chat with Renata. We all feel joyful, valued, and confident as we notice the gentle leadership of the new superintendent. There she began to engage and inspire her leaders. After commenting and recalling such kindnesses, we effectively began the interview:
Rafael – Renata, did anyone inspire you to be kind? If so, who?
Renata – Well, I can say that I was inspired by my mother. My mother is a very kind person I think I inherited that a lot from her. She is a very calm person and spends a tranquility in doing things with affection, so that if she finds you here now she comes and gives you a kiss, passes a lot of affection. So I can state that I am who I am because of my mother.
Rafael – So he came from his crib…
Renata – Yes, it came from cradle! My mother once worked in daycare, Rafael, all the children in daycare wanted to leave with her. One day a father said to him: “I know that you must be the best mother in the world, because if my son wants to leave with you is because you treat him very well, then I am calm.” And it’s true! Because she treats any child like a son. My mother is like that in everything she does and passes it on very well for me and my sister. She’s very sweet in everything she does, and also with people, because she has this sweet way.
Raphael: As if everyone around you were your children?
Rafael: Maybe that’s what companies lack today…
Renata: Maybe… It is also a bit of seeing one in the other person’s place, because no one wants to be mistreated, no one misses on purpose. You can see if the person has a bad nature or not. So that’s it: only those who work are wrong… If one person tried to do his best and it didn’t work out, I’m going to punish?! Is this the way I should go? Or should I encourage you by saying “let’s get it together”? Putting yourself in the other’s shoes for me is critical, because everyone wants to be treated well, everyone wants attention, but this is hardly prioritized. That’s the point.
Rafael: What is kindness to you?
Renata: For me, kindness is defined by love. Love for what you do is have compassion for the other… Kindness is a set of things, it does not define itself in a single word, it defines itself in a whole.
Rafael: In your view, can kindness bring greater financial results and productivity to companies?
Renata: Yes, depending on how you put things and show. You know that whole lemon lemonade thing? So the lemon is sour, but depending on how you use it, it leaves everything very tasty and gives a special touch. Even that bitter person and I usually say that the hottest thing is working precisely with that person who is more difficult. You know that person who’s against it? It’s the hottest experience because it’s with her that you have to work to help her change. I once had a very rude collaborator, I offered him a coaching and said: I want you to change, not because I’m asking you to change, but I want you to change because you have a small child, and when he’s a teenager, you’ll have to be very good at dealing with him and if you’re going to deal with him with the rispidez you have today , you will not win your child. You have to be his friend when he’s a teenager, so he can tell you things, so you know who he’s hanging out with… So I want you to change not for me, I want you to change because you want to change, because you understand that being the way I’m proposing you, kinder, better understanding each person, will bring more results to your work. So, with kindness, if you can take more fruit from people. I will give the example of when I worked in the audit: in many times I had to do work on Saturday, Sunday or stay the night after hours. No one has ever refused to help me at work, in fact, sometimes they competed with each other to help me by saying “let me go, Renata, let me go” and I would answer “no, you’ve stayed after hours last time, let me see with someone else”.
Rafael – That is, people are happy to help you, not because Renata is sending, but because Renata is in need…
Renata – Yes, it’s because I needed it. They knew that and they were going to help me. I don’t need to impose, I don’t need to give wallets and people would ask me, “Renata, are you really an auditor?” I would say, “yes, I am, but I don’t need to give portfolios to get things”, even because, Rafael, in the wallet we get the person to do what is asked, but she will make furious, just to give me and I get off his foot and the next time I have to do a job with that person she will make my life difficult. Now, if I show her a partnership and that, as an auditor, I’m there to help and often be her eyes, to see things that she can’t see, but that I, who am not in the day to day with you, in this partnership, I will be able to add much more value than if I are to audit rigidly. So for me, this is the big difference in promoting things, you can slap with kid’s glove or you can slap the face, there are people who slap you with kid’s glove and you still thank you, why do you stop and think “gee, it’s true” and you’ll thank because I’m going to open your eyes about something you might not be seeing. Many times we do not learn in love, we also learn in pain and I can pass you the same message with kindness instead of passing with laughs, but you would be very angry to the point of stopping listening to what I’m talking about, but I have the option of being able to talk with all the kindness of the world and you conclude “damn , she’s right!”.
Rafael – Renata, you have a career of notorious success: you are the director of the 3rd largest publicly traded company in Brazil and 68th largest bank in the world. Do you consider that your kindness has contributed to you getting here?
Renata – Yes, I think it was a differential, I have several colleagues in the same way, but people helped me and I did not have to impose myself for this. So, I continue with this recipe, because I think it is a recipe for success, I believe that with kindness, we pass the message, when we have to be angry, I’m angry, but I also know when something was too much and I’m sorry and this set makes all the difference. I didn’t come alone, I arrived with all the people who supported me and my kindness generated all this support. She gave people the basis to help me. Nobody does anything alone, if someone in this world thinks they’ve come anywhere alone, that someone is very wrong. It may even be that a lot of people don’t agree with my way, Rafael, and I’ve heard it from people. But I’m Renata on the bench and I’m Renata in my private life, I don’t change being a Renata here and another out there. I am what I am and even if some people don’t look at me well, I think we can do better that way.
Rafael – Could you share a remarkable episode in your career involving kindness?
Renata – There were several. A striking one was involving a person who, because of the successive rudeness he practiced, were giving up on her, but I took responsibility for helping her, because I noticed that this person, despite having a lot of technical knowledge and delivering excellent financial results, had bad examples in life, and thus was replicating patterns of bad behaviors learned during his career, such as mistreating and humiliating people. I remember when I talked to this person about it and said they gave her the mission to drive an ocean liner to the port and she did that, drove the ocean liner to the port and fulfilled the delivery, yet the crew arrived dead, because she killed everyone with words, with actions, with attitudes, with everything wrong she did. So, on the one hand, she had merits and for others she had demerits because she killed everyone, only no one said she had to come with the crew alive. After that she did coaching and, over time, improved her behavior, continued to deliver good financial results, but without mistreating people. She learned that it is possible to celebrate with everyone the arrival of the ocean liner in the port, with the team alive and satisfied. The lack of kindness had robbed him of the possibility and pleasure of celebrating the victory with the team. This one for me was a great victory, because the people on the team comment to this day how much this person has changed and improved and that for me is gratifying. And this person knows to this day that I will always preach kindness! I don’t know if that will ever be her essence, but she had the opportunity to prove both, a rude delivery and a kind delivery. That’s a choice, which way she’s going to find best to take in her life. At the time, I considered that in the context in which this person entered the labor market the rule was to be rude and probably she had to be rude for the sake of survival in that context. Maybe she didn’t have someone to teach her the advantages of working and living nicely. I believe in people and that was a successful job. We can’t give up on people.
Rafael – If there was a recipe for how to be kind, what would be yours?
Renata – Now you’ve got me… (laughs) is like ethics, kindness is like ethics, you have to practice every day. When we’re in a line, I see you up front and I’m going to talk to you just to get through, I wasn’t ethical, there were a lot of people behind me. Agree?! One thing I learned from kindness: you may be furious, but the other person has nothing to do with it. It’s a daily practice, you always have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and say “Would I want this for me?”, if you wouldn’t want to, don’t do it for each other. The recipe is to practice every day and put yourself in the place of the other. Sometimes we get furious when we get telemarketing call, we have the habit of already going out wanting to kick, but I think “damn life, this person needs to sell, it’s her job” so why not answer “thank you very much, I understand, but today I’m really not interested”, than to leave screaming “don’t call me anymore, you’ve called me before!”
Rafael – The person will not be upset that they have not made a sale, the person will be upset that they have been mistreated.
Renata – That’s right. That’s why many telemarketing companies have a decompression room. Sometimes people will just remember that bad part, how many people haven’t been mistreated, right? How many people call at the end of the year right at Christmas or new year, right at the turn, to talk because there is no one and wanted to talk to someone …
Rafael – I’ve heard stories like this…
Renata – Now imagine if the attendant decides to say: “if you will not buy anything then we will turn off, because I need to sell”, understand? Sometimes you save the life of someone who needed just a word of affection or just be listened to. So this is the difference of kindness and it fits well anywhere. We’re all going to die one day, that’s a fact. If someone says they’re going to live forever, they won’t. So why not leave good things, huh? We all go to the same place and what’s the difference between a cleaning person, an auditor, a director and a president?! So look how beautiful when you see someone who doesn’t see that distinction. Why distinction? Why are you better than the other one? It’s the same thing as a guy who’s got a ferrari and another with a beetle, the two will arrive in the same place, one maybe arrive with a little more comfort or faster because the car is more powerful, but the beetle will get there too. It’s just a matter of point of view, the way you look, and if you notice, you’ll see it’s the same thing. And you have the opportunity to choose.
Rafael – It’s like you said: it’s love.
Renata – Yes, kindness is love.
The interview exemplified much of what was mentioned in the theoretical framework and in the questionnaire answered by the hundred people. The fact that Renata was inspired by her own mother, who worked in daycare, reinforced the importance of stimulating kindness since childhood, a situation highlighted by Rodrigues (2019) when showing the project of the pedagogue Gisele Masotti. A child encouraged to be kind can become a reference in kindness in adulthood, in the labor market, producing excellent financial results in a humanized way, and also promoting happiness for herself and for co-workers. When Renata argues that putting herself in the place of the other is fundamental, because everyone wants to be treated well, everyone wants attention, but this is hardly prioritized, it is aligned with the concept of empathy brought by neuroscientist O’Connor (2018), who explains that empathy emotionally connects people through mirror neurons.
Renata also corroborates Tiago (2015), who states that putting one another in place makes things much easier and stresses that we all have to know the definition of the word empathy and multiply it. Renata, as a bank director and at the same time reference in kindness, shows, in practice, Harrison’s statement (2007), that it is perfectly possible to have the privileges inherent in the position of executive maintaining good relations of cordiality, education, respect, empathy and compassion by managers and ordinary collaborators, proving that there are executives who disdain executive arrogance and are not even less efficient leaders. The concept of kindness brought by Renata, of her love for what is done, compassion for the other, not defining herself in a single word, but in a set of things, complements the concept of the educator Mário Sérgio Cortella.
He states that kindness needs and can be learned, taught, practiced, protected and shared from a series of actions that we have to exercise in our daily lives. Love and compassion inevitably use gentle actions to be learned, taught, practiced and shared. Harrison (2007) states that kindnesses put values into practice, so we can conclude that kindness is love in motion. Tiago (2015) states that the use of kindness improves the results. Renata and 98% of the respondents of the questionnaire consider that kindness can bring greater financial results and productivity to companies and Renata explains the reason: through kindness people deliver more of themselves, voluntarily and joyfully, resulting in better deliveries.
Melo (2017) complements Renata’s explanation by showing a very kind and productive concept of leadership: it is to give a good cause for which people want to fight, in any area of life, contributing and creating ways for people to make extraordinary things happen. In doing so, the leader will happily get people to accomplish what they would normally suffer to do, that is, work at the level of overcoming. About the remarkable episode shared by Renata, involving the use of kindness, Tiago (2015) points out that humanization moves a team in a favorable way with results that make a leader be remembered as a manager who did for deserving the position he occupies. As Renata pointed out, kindness is a career differential and fits well anywhere. For this it is necessary to decide daily to practice it, not giving up on people and always preaching kindness.
With the theoretical and empirical research carried out, it can certainly be affirmed that kindness, in the face of the most diverse challenges that people face in the corporate environment, is a tool to humanize relationships, ensuring more well-being and happiness to people as well as better financial results and productivity to companies. The concepts discussed indicate that kindness is a particular way of thinking to act in coexistence, whose actions avoid, in itself and in the other, harm, sadness or discomfort. The types of kindness, the ways in which they can be employed and, mainly, the results they provide indicate how rewarding and productive it is to invest in this way of loving oneself and others.
The empirical research, through the questionnaire applied and the interview conducted, brought proof of what the cited authors say: that kindness is an excellent business and that there is a vast field for application. People want more and more happiness and good treatment, while companies crave better results, and these desires can be fulfilled. Have you ever thought about making people feel happier and making even more money out of it? The use of kindness makes this possible. The impact of kindness on companies goes far beyond pleasing people. It takes a lot of dedication, planning, persistence and patience to cultivate kindness daily.
In this way, it is necessary to choose, and thus, to adhere, in a constant way, gentle actions. In return, you receive smiles, joys, happiness, well-being, engagement and involvement of teams and better deliveries, productivity and more efficient results. This is so possible that theoretical research has shown many ways to stimulate kindness in the organizational environment and also showed how to influence future generations of professionals to be kinder. Kindness is shown as the engine for the growth of people and accelerator of the efficiency of companies, with minimal cost, without contraindications, just good will to use it.
ARAÚJO, M. A. A. Etiqueta empresarial: ser bem educado é… Rio de Janeiro: Qualitymark, 2004.
BARROS, C. Shinsetsu – o poder da gentileza. São Paulo: Editora Planeta do Brasil, 2018.
BRANDÃO, D. M. Liderança que valoriza pessoas – pratique Giftworks. 2017. Disponível em: https://noticias.ne10.uol.com.br/coluna/doses-de-foco/noticia/2017/11/08/lideranca-que-valoriza-pessoas-%E2%80%93-pratique-giftworks-721287.php. Acesso em: 04 ago. 2019.
BRASIL. Câmara dos Deputados. Rádio Câmara – a música do dia (13.11.2015). Disponível em https://www2.camara.leg.br/camaranoticias/radio/materias/A-MUSICA-DO-DIA/456932-DIA-MUNDIAL-DA-GENTILEZA.html. Acesso em: 22 jun. 2019.
BREMER, M. Appreciative inquiry to build a culture of kindness. 2015. Disponível em: https://www.leadershipandchangemagazine.com/appreciative-inquiry-to-build-a-culture-of-kindness/. Acesso em: 22 jun. 2019.
COMPARATO, F. K. Ética: direito, moral e religião no mundo moderno. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2016.
CURRY, O. S. et al. Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. 2018. Charlottesville (EUA). Center for open science. Disponível em: https://osf.io/ytj5s. Acesso em: 18 jun. 2019.
FERREIRA, L. A arte de ser leve. São Paulo: Editora Planeta do Brasil, 2018.
GUELMAN, L. O profeta gentileza. Disponível em: http://www.riocomgentileza.com.br/index-2.html. Acesso em 13 jun. 2019.
HARARI, Y. Sapiens: uma breve história da humanidade. Porto Alegre: Editora L&PM, 2015.
HARRISOM, S. Manual de gentilezas do executivo. São Paulo: Primavera Editorial, 2007.
HASKINS, G.; THOMAS, M.; JOHRI, L. Kindness in leadership. Abingdon, Oxon (Inglaterra): Editora Routledge, 2018.
MELO, P. A. A. Liderança na era da hipercompetitividade. São Paulo: Editora Laços, 2017.
O’CONNOR, B. The neurobiology of the kindness: inside the brain. 2018. Disponível em: https://inside-the-brain.com/2018/11/13/the-neurobiology-of-kindness-worldkindnessday/. Acesso em: 22 jun. 2019.
RODRIGUES, L. Professora de Jundiaí ganha prêmio com projeto que ensina gentileza a alunos. Tribuna de Jundiaí. 2019. Disponível em: https://tribunadejundiai.com.br/educacao/escola-inovadora/professora-de-jundiai-cria-projeto-para-ensinar-gentileza-aos-alunos/. Acesso em: 04 ago. 2019.
STURT, D.; NORDSTROM, T. How purposeful kindness can make you a better leader. 2018. Disponível em: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidsturt/2018/10/24/how-purposeful-kindness-can-make-you-a-better-leader/#4555f2397b7a. Acesso em: 22 jun. 2019.
TAYLOR, B. Making kindness a core tenet of your company. 2018. Disponível em: https://hbr.org/2018/11/making-kindness-a-core-tenet-of-your-company. Acesso em: 22 jun. 2019.
TIAGO, L. G. Gentileza no trabalho: conciliando sua vida pessoal com a profissional. São Paulo: Editora Ideias e Letras, 2015.
 MBA in Strategic People Management; MBA in Business Management, Controllership and Corporate Finance; Degree in Accounting.
 Master’s degree in Business Management. Specialization in Business Management. Specialization in Sports Sciences. Graduation in Physical Education.
Enviado: Dezembro, 2019.
Aprovado: Março, 2020.