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In a former job, I used to have a mean boss. The kind of boss who would tear you down in public, make you feel worthless and mock you if you went to your car during lunch to have a little cry. My coworkers and I became adept at figuring out her triggers and avoiding them wherever possible. Some days we spent more time at work analyzing how she would react to something than doing our jobs. That was the least productive I've ever been.

Now I work for an amazing company and a dynamic group of people. And we are all nice. We have adopted this policy where we are all nice to everyone that we work with, even when we disagree with them. And you know what? We are a happy, productive, well-respected bunch.

This article from The Atlantic details how niceness in the workplace has become a valuable social currency: I'm nice to you, you're nice to me, we build a relationship and no one develops a stress ulcer. Unfortunately, not a lot of organizations have realized this and everyone suffers as a result.

I think about these things as my son starts his new school. Because school doesn't prepare people for workplaces. Don't get me wrong, I believe education is extremely valuable, but school focuses on the achievements of the individual, no matter the cost. Last year I talked about the Harvard study that showed parents weren't valuing kindness as much as they were valuing achievement, and I wonder how our family will weather this new environment. Will I remember to praise him on the days he shows kindness as well as the days he excels?

How do you recognize kindness in your household? Let me know in the comments.

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