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June 25, 2018

Small Business Advice

Kindness does matter in business

"Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind." — Henry James

Jerry Osteryoung | 3/10/2014

FBMC Benefits Management

Having written this weekly column for over a decade, I can tell you that coming up with the concept to write about is normally the largest challenge. With me, I frequently get fired about a topic that I have read or learned about, but sometimes something will directly happen to me that invigorates me to write a column.

With this column, I was pondering on what to write about for 3 or 4 days and then we went out for dinner on Friday evening to a local restaurant in Tallahassee. While we were having dinner a man came up and wanted to say hello to me, as I have not seen him or his father in about 5 years. We made the necessary cordial talk, as I was genuinely happy to see him. After he left I commented on what a nice man he is.

Later our waiter came up to us and said that our dinner check had been taken care of which just floored me as his act of kindness, was just not expected in any way. Of course, I knew who did this and was so pleased for his incredible act of kindness that was not expected. It was not so much that he paid for our dinner but that he cared enough to cover the cost.

I think that kindness is just one thing that businesses in general need to adopt more into their manual  of operations.

Spontaneous kindness makes such an impact of customers and employees and we just cannot forget about the power of this concept. Wikipedia has a pretty good definition of kindness as “a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern for others.”

In the U.K., the third Monday in January as the year’s most depressing day accourding to research. The Sun. a London tabloid, posted a team along the M6 highway on Jan. 21 holding signs telling drivers that the newspaper had paid their tolls.

Another recent research poll showed that the the brand attribute that customers had found important(up by 391% over 3 years was “kindness and empathy”). One researcher, Jamil Zaki said that the latest research is showing that we’re nice even to people outside our circle and to those who can’t help us in return. Being kind in this manner is incongruent with the traditional thinking by economists and biologist.

A Birmingham, England base ad agency, Smile, always try to include some form of kindness in all of their interaction. In fact one of their core values is to make some someone smile each day.

Some of the acts of kindness that I have seen besides the one that triggered this column are restaurants that that send out gift certificates to random customers or a business recognized that a person that they knew was in financial distress. All of the employees worked together and raise over $5,000 to help this employee.

Given all of this research and just good old common sense clearly shows that kindness does matter and is important as to how the outside and staff see your business or organization.

Now go out and see if you cannot locate ways to be kinder to your customers, staff, or just other prople.

You can do this!

Jerry Osteryoung is a consultant to businesses - he has directly assisted over 3,000 firms. He is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship (Emeritus) and Professor of Finance (Emeritus) at Florida State University. He was the founding Executive Director of The Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. His newest book co-authored with Tim O'Brien, "If You Have Employees, You Really Need This Book," is an bestseller. He can be reached by e-mail at

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