A simple kind word or gesture can make a difference for how a person feels included in the workplace or family. Coaching clients often share these moments and many also share their sense of aloneness. Studies on the employee experience show that while people want meaningful jobs, fairness, transparency and growth they want to experience connection and kindness.
When people change jobs and organizations, they often feel a loss of friendship and connection with others. Research shows the critical importance of psychological safety. Yet intimacy cannot be developed when there is not a sense of kindness and openness to connection. We can each contribute to a sense of psychological safety and connection by being kind to those with whom we interact.
Small gestures of greeting people, smiling and showing interest make a difference. Cigna’s annual study on Loneliness in America showed 52%, a 6% increase than last year, in people feeling alone all or most of the time. 38% say they “do not have close relationships with other people.” With the focus on social media, the internet and emails many are not creating meaningful relationships, particularly young people.
As leaders, it is up to us to reach out to listen, show interest and compassion and to demonstrate kindness and build relationships. We each can make a difference by engaging with people rather than our cell phones.
Clayton Christensen, wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “How Will You Measure Your Life?” He was a highly successful professor and consultant who created substantial impact. Yet, he realized that he would assess his life by the individual people whose lives he touched. He stated, “Don’t worry about the individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people.”