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Have you noticed that most of the leaders who have influenced you and the ones you admire most are likable?
I don’t mean likable in the sense of a high school popularity contest. I mean they have earned your trust and respect and the right to influence you through their actions and their words. These are people who have achieved a level of success in work and life that you’d like to emulate.
You trust them and their motives. They aren’t perfect. They have had their share of set-backs – and often, it’s how they navigated their setbacks that earned them greater respect.
A few people may already come to mind, but if not, pause for a moment and think about one or two people who have influenced you. What are the secrets to their success? We know that success doesn’t happen overnight – but there are a few everyday choices your role models make that you can also choose to make.
One under-appreciated attribute of successful people is kindness. Kindness is a simple, yet powerful way to build trust, relationships, and impact. If you want to increase your impact on others, below are three simple acts to help you be more kind. You can put these into practice immediately to help achieve your goals better, faster, and with greater positive results – for you and those you lead.
1. Speak kind words
This is a powerful way to build relationships, especially with people whom you disagree, find difficult, or compete with! Kind words build people up. Kind words also disarm people, especially those people who are most challenging in your life.
Larry Fitzgerald of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals has become legendary for being amiable on the field, even though he is a fierce (and highly successful) competitor. After the Cardinals loss against the Carolina Panthers in the 2016 playoffs, Fitzgerald found kind words to share on Twitter, even in defeat:
“We are truly grateful for the love & support you all showed us this season. We couldn’t have made it this far without you!”
No wonder Fitzgerald enjoys over 2.1m Twitter followers and even more admirers. According to the Wall Street Journal, his competitors realize that Fitzgerald’s kindness is a competitive advantage. His actions to be kind show he truly values people whether they are competitors or difficult opponents.
Smiling changes you and is something that positively affects anyone you give it to. Research has shown smiling actually changes your brain! According to Fast Company writer Vivian Giang, “Putting on a happy face doesn’t just make you more likable, it makes you healthier” – both of which are good for you and your career.
Studies show that people’s’ perceptions of us improve when we smile. We are perceived as more competent, likable, and courteous, all of which are important to building relationships, trust, and a bank of goodwill, which you will need to succeed at anything.
Smiling and its benefits are contagious and immediately influence others. It can not only reset your brain, but others as well! If you smile often enough, you are retraining your brain to make more positive patterns than negative ones. You can actually retrain your brain to look for positive possibilities, instead of scanning for things to be anxious about, according to Harvard researcher Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage. If you want an immediate smile, watch Achor in his delightful TED Talk, The Happy Secret to Better Work.
3. Perform three random acts of kindness
Linda Clark of PositivityDaily says that not only will it boost someone else, it will increase your optimism, which fuels your day regardless of the challenges you are facing. It’s a win for others, and for you!
Daniel Lubetzky, CEO and Founder of KIND Snacks, built a successful (and delicious!) company around the concept of being kind; the brand’s motto is to live kind every day. Mr. Lubetzky wrote a book on being kind in business, called Do the KIND Thing, where he shares his trajectory, including a few failures along the way and how kindness permeates throughout his business. This book was named one of 2015’s standout titles by Success magazine.
Here’s a quick list of 101 Easy Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness to jumpstart your thinking about how to make a positive impact on those around you.
These are three actions you can take every day to be kind that will bring about positive growth in your mindset, relationships, and work. And in doing so, you will find that your relationships are better and you will have earned more respect and trust. Don’t be surprised when you realize that your generosity of spirit will grow, you will become happier, and you will continually make a positive impact on others as a leader.