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  • Writer's pictureJosh Vaisman

Feeling Enraged? Kill 'Em With Kindness

Kill ‘em with kindness.

I can remember being a child, struggling with a mean classmate and being told to just “kill ‘em with kindness.” Smile and be extra nice to this person and they will magically be nice back.

At the time it felt so dismissive. My natural inclination was to want to lash out at the mean kid.

Or just switch schools.

How in the world would being kind to the class-turd help matters?

As a child, it was difficult to see the logic. As a Positive Psychology practitioner, I get it now.

A few months back I wrote a blog article about an on-boarding program that not only benefits the new employees, but current employees. It was based on some interesting research and the power of psychological safety.

Another cool study hammers home the contagious power of kindness in teams. Its lessons are important, now more than ever.

Here’s the TL;DR gist of the research:

  • Once a week, for 4 weeks, employee’s happiness was measured

  • 19 “givers” were secretly recruited in the organization

  • The “givers” were tasked with performing random acts of kindness at work

  • “Givers” were allowed to choose who, when, and what – except they were told to not do any for a specified control group

The results were awesome:

  • Receivers reported noticing 10x more prosocial behaviors at work than the control group

  • Receivers also reported significantly higher feelings of autonomy (a key factor in intrinsic motivation)

  • 1 month after the study ended, receivers reported significantly higher happiness scores than the control group

And it didn’t just benefit the receivers:

  • Givers saw the same boost to autonomy

  • Givers also saw a big boost to their sense of competency at work

  • 1 month after the study ended, givers reported higher happiness scores than even the receivers reported!

  • And, givers reported significantly higher levels of job and life satisfaction

But that’s not all! Here’s the really cool part – receivers paid it forward!

Those who received the random acts of kindness ended up paying kindness forward throughout the organization. And not in the ways you might expect.

You might think they simply returned the favor to the givers. In actuality, they gave their kindness equally to everyone on the team.

Applying the Science at the Vet Hospital

You, your team, and even your clients can benefit from this research. If you’re willing to take a small leap forward.

Now, I get it. Right now things are tough out there.

We’re feeling shorthanded, overwhelmed, and exhausted. And it seems every cranky client this side of the equator is overcome with a hankering to unleash the full force of their rage on the veterinary community.

And here comes Josh with Flourish telling you to “kill ‘em with kindness.”

What a jerk.

Fair enough. Still, hear me out.

I’m not asking you to dismiss the struggle you’re experiencing. That’s real and valid.

What I am asking of you is to also add just a few small acts of kindness into your week.

In the next few days of work, I’d like you to do at least 1 kind thing for each of the following:

  1. Someone on your team

  2. Yourself

  3. A client

The act itself is up to you. It can be anything so long as it fits your own definition of “kind”. When you do it and who you do it for is also totally your call. BONUS - when you've done all 3, write them down and email them to me at

One more thing – I want you to do this for its own sake.

Try and perform each small act with no expectation. And take some joy in knowing you did it….and in doing so, it’s very likely that person will pay it forward to someone else.

In this way, we make this challenging time we’re in just a bit better for us all.

The science tells us so.

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