Help others, and you’ll help yourself - Michelle Gibbings

Help others, and you’ll help yourself

Throughout your career, you’ll come across all types of leaders and co-workers. At one end of the spectrum, there’s the ‘win at all costs’ personality. The leader or co-worker who subscribes to the motto that ‘nice guys finish last’ and for them to come out on top someone else (perhaps, you) has to lose.

Advocating self-serving and at worst, narcissistic behaviour, they aren’t fun to work with.

As David Buss and Lis Chiodo outline in their seminal articleNarcissistic Acts in Everyday Life – narcissists turn inward for gratification. They rely on themselves rather than others for safety and self-esteem. They detail how narcissists tend to be preoccupied with power and prestige, enhancing themselves with the belief that they are stronger and more important, more beautiful, or more successful, for example.

As I write this, the image of one political leader immediately springs to mind.

It’s a sad reality that in organisations you will see some people adopt this style of behaviour. Everything they do and say is about them, and their needs. They focus on how they can position themselves for success and triumph, at the expense of others.

At the other end of the spectrum are the leaders and co-workers who know that focusing on others is essential. Why? Because they realise that helping, supporting and elevating others is not only critical for their success but fundamental to building long-lasting relationships and becoming the type of person they want to be.

They also recognise the broader benefits this type of approach holds.

We are tribal creatures, and over the years, we have evolved and developed certain traits that underpin our survival. One of those is reciprocity. Basically, if someone does something nice for you, by default, you feel obligated to do something nice in return. It’s an innate trait; although a trait that some people hold more readily.

Helping others, however, is more than just playing out an evolutionary trait. Research reveals that people who help other people are often far happier than those who don’t. For example, carrying out acts of kindness is linked to increased well-being.

As well, when you do something nice for other people, your brain releases chemicals including dopamine that make you feel good. How cool is that?

So, helping others isn’t purely about what it does for the other person, you stand to benefit too.

It works like this. When you help someone, it makes you feel good; particularly, if the gesture is unexpected. If you go out of your way to help a work colleague, they’ll be grateful. For example, if you offer to provide support, spend time explaining a concept or pitching in with extra effort when they are drowning in work. When you step up and help, they’ll want to help you in return (this is reciprocity in action). Plus, you’ll get your dopamine hit (the brain’s happy drug). This chain reaction helps you feel better about yourself and your place in the world around you, and forges social connections and enhances relationships.

As cartoonist Scott Adams, once remarked “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”

So, what’s the ripple you want to start?



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