Earlier this week I was reminded about the value of small acts of kindness.
It started when I read an article on how we underestimate how much others appreciate us and therefore hesitate to do or say nice things out-of-the-blue, as we don’t believe it will have an impact. We often overthink it, wondering if it’s strange we’re reaching out, or if what we’re writing sounds ok.
It got me thinking...
During my time at Airbnb, I crossed paths with a woman who has since navigated becoming a mom while being an absolute rockstar in her professional life. She’s someone I look up to, model aspects of my career after, AND I never told her that I thought she was absolutely crushing it. What was holding me back? 1) There was one sales call she joined me on that didn’t go as planned and I was a bit embarrassed by the memory (negativity bias), and 2) She’s so accomplished I didn’t think hearing from me would be impactful.
The irony is, who doesn’t love receiving a kind note? I have a “Positive Notes” folder in my inbox that I’ve been adding to for years. Any compliments from colleagues, clients or friends, go straight in the folder. Whether I need a confidence boost before a speaking engagement or pick-me-up before starting my day, it’s a good place to turn.
So anyway, I got over my own fears and reached out to her... And you know what? We had a lovely exchange and are back in touch.
“No one criticizes a kind note they weren’t expecting”
And, you just might make someone’s day.
In case you'd like to read the full article I mention above:
Things to watch out for:
- Negativity bias: remembering negative events and feelings more acutely than positive ones, thus avoiding what we perceive as socially risky behaviors.
- The liking gap: the tendency to underestimate how the other participant in the conversation feels about us. In studies with both strangers and acquaintances, the participant always judges their conversation partner higher than the partner assumes they will.
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