Over the next few weeks I will introduce some of my favorite neologisms—words or phrases which have been recently coined to describe a new concept or to modernize an older term. Business is famous for creating and adopting new jargon. While many words become fodder for buzzword bingo, the intention is to aid in the communication of an idea. The creation of a new word or phrase is the perfect opportunity for differentiation.
The new word for this week: Kindtagious.
Businesses regularly try to create an environment in which morale is high and productivity is even higher. There are programs initiated which promise to shift the cultural paradigm; however, the basic behaviors and attitudes are rarely outlined or supported. A video is watched, t-shirts are handed out, stationary and stuffed animals are purchased, but morale remains low. After participating, observing and, embarrassingly, leading several morale-building efforts, I realized that organizations really need the morale-building behaviors to become second nature and spread like wildfire. They needed kindness to become contagious.
Kindtagious is defined as “possessing a generous or warm-hearted nature that is transmittable by direct or indirect contact.” It is not a program, but it is a way people within an organization can positively impact each other. Over the past thirty years, kindness has been the focus of random acts and paid forward. The Kindtagious philosophy is best understood by highlighting what it is not.
Kindtagious is not paying it forward.
The term “pay” leads a person to feel obligated to pass it on. When a person is the recipient of a kind act it should come with no strings attached. There are many times the recipient may not have the capacity to pay it forward. A Kindtagious act is about a person-to-person interaction. It is not a relay at the company BBQ.
Kindtagious is not a weapon.
Have you ever heard about killing a person with kindness? That does not lead to a culture of kindness being built, nor does it build morale. Kindtagious is not a weapon of revenge. It is used to build others up. There is nothing worse than passive aggression masked in kindness.
Kindtagious does not discriminate.
For an organization to experience widespread morale improvement, cultural and social boundaries must come down. It is human nature to gravitate to those most similar to ourselves, but one must understand that Kindtaious is transmittable across all people groups.
Kindtagious is not about personal gain.
There is great intrinsic reward to being a Kindtagious person, but Kindtagious is not a means to ensure reciprocity of activity. Additionally, the limelight is not the goal. Acts should be done in a stealth fashion. You will find yourself smiling as you walk away. That is a wonderful reward. It also does wonders for individual morale.
Kindtaious is not random.
A random act of kindness is outdated and tends to lack ownership. To be Kindtagious, one must be deliberate. The more deliberate the act the greater impact it will have on the recipient.
How Kindtagious is the culture of your organization? I created the word Kindtagious to make morale-building more tangible. There is a connection between the level of morale in an organization and the degree to which people are perceived to be kind. Sometimes it is helpful to develop a new term. This act of strategic creativity can lead to better understanding and implementation of a new concept. If you want to invent something new—culture, product or brand—it should be given a new name and a new identity.
So what word(s) would you like to create?