The Coach's Corner

Here’s what happens when you’re kind

The Coach’s Corner Newsletter #41

When I shared with my oldest granddaughter, here for the end of spring break, that I would be taking some time to write this newsletter she asked me what I was going to write about.

As I threw out a few topics from my notes, she nodded her head without saying a word. That silence was priceless.

“Hmm, what are you thinking a good topic might be for me to write about?”

“Well,” she answered, “kindness is very cool.”

“Kindness. How so?”

“I know what it’s like when people aren’t kind and that doesn’t feel good. On the other hand, I really know how I feel when people are kind. It makes me want to be more kind.”

She unlocked the findings from a breadth of studies that demonstrate when you show kindness to others, it can promote physiological changes in the brain that are linked with happiness.

Kelli Harding, MD, MPH, who wrote, The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness, points out that “small acts of kindness are an essential and often overlooked component of health.”

Look up this word and you’ll find a myriad of definitions…I really appreciate this explanation from the Mental Health Foundation in the UK.

Kindness is defined by doing something towards yourself and others, motivated by genuine desire to make a positive difference.

So I changed my topic 🙂


Here’s what happens when you’re kind

My granddaughter is right: you probably do know how it feels when someone is really kind to you. It feels really good!

According to the Mayo Clinic, that’s because kindness positively changes your brain by boosting levels of serotonin and dopamine.

And when you extend kindness to someone else you feel more connected, less lonely and it does wonders for your mood.

So what are the health benefits of being kind?

It creates a sense of belonging and reduces isolation.

It helps to keep things in perspective.

It helps to make the world a happier place – one act of kindness can often lead to more!

The more do you do for others, the more you do for yourself.

In a coaching session, Joe shared that he’d been tapped by leadership in his org to facilitate a meeting of cross-functional leaders. He’s been working hard to build relationships and connect within and outside his team with quite a bit of success. Now he was being asked to describe what he did to establish such strong engagement in his department, and how these leaders might apply some of that learning for their teams.

When they reached out and let me know that my way of aligning with my team was making a difference AND they wanted me to meet with other leaders to share what was working, I was blown away.

What was he doing so differently?

I realize that the way I show up matters. Right? People do notice. And now I’m encouraging others to demonstrate kindness with their direct reports, extend empathy to their colleagues and be clear with all of their actions.



Kindness improves your mental health, increases belonging and is contagious!

So I went back to my granddaughter. How does she know when someone is really being kind – and not faking it?

In order, this is what she notices:

  1. They’re friendly. I can tell by looking at them. There’s a smile that’s not phony.
  2. They recognize me or someone else. It’s more than a complement, they really pay attention.
  3. They do something that’s meaningful for me or someone else, and it might not be easy for them to do.

And once she receives kindness she notices that she becomes more kind. To her brothers, and her teachers and her family!

My takeaway

Overthinking. That’s something we do in our personal and professional lives that can send us swirling.

The fresh approach from an 11-year old reminds me that we can make a difference by returning to the basics of what we know creates a sense of peace and well-being within us. Which in turn contributes to well-being for others.

I can remember a time when an act of kindness, so unexpected at a moment of stress in my work, brought me to tears. The tears were there to remind me that someone saw me and extended words that I needed in that moment. Someone was kind.

Find a way to show kindness today – you know what it feels like.

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can see.


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