Wellness, Effectiveness, and Kindness
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

In 1978, a seemingly straightforward experiment was designed to determine the relationship between high blood cholesterol and heart health in rabbits. What it discovered was kindness. A nurturing post-doc who would pet and speak to the lab rabbits as she fed them made the difference between a heart attack and a healthy heart.

As Dr. Kelli Harding reveals in her book released this year called the Rabbit Effect, the rabbits are the beginning of a much larger story. In the last few decades, groundbreaking new research shows that kindness, true friendship, caring community, knowing one’s life purpose, and our environment can have a huge impact on our health. For instance, chronic loneliness can be as unhealthy as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and people with purpose are less likely to get sick.

How we are treated and how we treat others has a huge impact on our wellness and effectiveness at work. The key, we now know, is kindness. As leaders, we can see the impact that our manner, tone, and overall approach has on the way people respond to us. We see that a smile and a word of thanks makes all the difference in how someone views the work they do. We know that we are at our best when we are firm but understanding when changes need to be made or a mistake needs to be corrected. We know these things from our own experiences. Now, we have the science to back it up. It’s time we talk and do more to bring kindness to our workplaces.

It’s not a good leadership decision to allow bitterness and dissent to remain in our workplaces. We need to help individuals and teams work through differences in order to foster teamwork and mutual respect. This improves the effectiveness and healthiness of everyone in the organization.

How can you demonstrate even simple gestures of kindness and concern with those around you? How will you notice when you are being harsh or insensitive? How can you more readily address behavior that is divisive and unkind in the workplace?

As a senior leader, I am more conscious than ever that my kind behavior can make a widely positive impact on the rest of my organization – and my life. I have made it a daily focus and even review my day to see if I attempted to be kind and caring during my day. Research shows that kindness does wonders for our health and the health of others. It’s certainly worth the extra effort it takes to care for those around us.