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Worldcrunch

In The French Workplace, "Kindness" As A Solution To Economic Crisis

A magazine in France is pushing a new campaign for office benevolence, and even a "Kindness Day" next week. It may sound to some like empty chatter (and not typically French), but it's part of a larger trend toward finding solutions in civility.

Article illustrative image Partner logo Nearly 250 companies have signed Psychologies' "Kindness Manifesto"

PARIS - The French magazine "Psychologies" has its own solution to the economic crisis. The high-brow women's monthly has gotten nearly 250 companies to sign on to the magazine’s "Call For More Benevolence In The Workplace," which will be followed by a "Kindness Day" on November 13.

"Kindness is a good response to the economic crisis," the magazine declared. 

It’s easy to laugh this all off, to note how easy it is to be nice for one day, and cynical and selfish the rest of the year. We can also shrug off some manifesto that allows us to proclaim ourselves virtuous, without actually having to translate such words into action.

And is it even possible to be nice when you have to fire someone? To deny them a pay raise? To negotiate a contract with a supplier? To answer your banker when he’s just said 'No' to a loan: "Yes, Mr. Banker, I understand... You’re having a rough day ... Sorry to have bothered you. You must feel so guilty. Maybe you need a hug?" Just kidding.

But then again, why not? Aren't there a thousand situations throughout the year where instead of responding aggressively, of turning a blind eye on a colleague or employee’s hardships, it would be possible to answer with kindness, respect, and to lend an ear to their difficulties? What would the consequences be?

More pressure on workers

Unless you are particularly perverse, it is usually more pleasant and rewarding to listen to and respect people than hurt or offend them. Some will have to think outside their box, and shed the habits of what our sometimes too rigid French education has taught them.

But being nice is also worth it for companies. Globalization, increased competition and this ongoing economic crisis put more and more pressure on employees’ shoulders. So much so that it is in the company’s interest to minimize as much as possible any internal causes of stress. Otherwise, the risk is that staff members are paralyzed with anxiety.

And because in a hyper-connected society, reputations are made and unmade in the blink of an eye, it has become imperative to behave well, says Dov Seidman, an American consultant, whose much talked-about book "How" has just be translated into French.

"Companies that have a more human way of functioning are more successful and sustainable," according to a study led by Mr. Seidman.

Being nice in business? Maybe not. But kind and respectful? Yes, that is "How." And the time is now.

Read the original article in French

Photo – Seattle Municipal Archives

 

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LE MONDE

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