Growing up, my mom always emphasized the importance of kindness. Her actions in her daily life set an example by showing us how we should treat everyone. She would go out of her way to help strangers, learn the names of service staff, and show gratitude for every effort. She went even further to include those in the lowest positions.
As someone who worked on cleaning crews and support staff, she wanted to show respect and appreciation for their work. Having worked in some of these jobs myself, I can tell you how rare it is that people take the time to recognize you as a human being. And, I would usually return the sentiments by providing better service. Sometimes, this also turned into financial rewards for customers. But, can you put a price on kindness?
The Perks of Being Polite
Although I have had many different jobs over the years, several of them revolved around the customer service industry. If you have ever worked the phones or in a service position, then you probably have your own stories that illustrate the best and worst that humanity has to offer.
Better Customer Service
From my own experiences, I can attest to the difference in my attitude towards customers who treated me with kindness. While I always strived to maintain professionalism, I put extra effort into helping those who treated me well. People who showed me an extra ounce of kindness received more personalized service than those who demanded things. I was much more prone to waive fees, offer upgrades, throw in freebies, and go the extra mile for customers who were patient and polite.
Discounts and Freebies
Since I have often been on the receiving end of it, I try to practice the golden rule with anyone helping me. This generally makes for more pleasant interactions. However, my patience and flexibility have sometimes included financial benefits as well. Not making a fuss has gotten me extra appetizers, free drinks from the bar, and discounts on our checks from grateful servers. Although I don’t expect these things, I tend to get these more often than my friends who don’t engage with service staff.
In the past, I have also received complimentary upgrades by working with employees to find fast solutions. Although this is more common in hotels, there have been other instances when I have gotten free upgrades.
Our last family vacation proved yet again that it pays to be polite. We decided to rent a car for the week. However, we noticed a mistake the morning we were supposed to pick it up. Normally we would roll with the bunches. However, this error would have left us waiting for an additional 3 hours with kids and bags in tow.
Rather than storming the rental counter, we simply showed up at our scheduled time and calmly explained our situation. The employee helping us apologized profusely for the inconvenience. And then, he offered us a free upgrade to a better vehicle. Not only did we not have to pay for the upgrade to a bigger vehicle, but he also gave us a more fuel-efficient model which saved us even more money on our trip.
Organizations That Put a Price on Kindness
While you shouldn’t expect these types of financial rewards for being nice, there are certain instances in which you can put a price on kindness. For example, the IRS offers tax breaks to those who make charitable donations. There is some paperwork and itemization involved when you file. But if you make frequent donations or monetary contributions to qualifying charities, it could save you a ton on your next tax return.
Some businesses are also offering rewards to their polite patrons. One of the most notable instances that I have seen recently is within restaurants. Several local businesses now advertise discounts to families with well-behaved children. While it is still not a common occurrence, it tells customers how much they value kindness and people who treat their staff with added consideration.
And of course, you can’t forget the incentives that many restaurants and retailers offer when you leave them a review. While they don’t necessarily require a nice review, leaving a comment for other potential customers brings in business. In return, many businesses offer discounts on future purchases, bonuses with their next order, or free entry into promotional contests. So if you are especially satisfied with the quality of your products or the service, leaving a positive review could earn you big savings.
It Never Hurts to Be Kind
The bottom line is that we should treat others as we would hope to be treated if the situation was reversed. And, it literally costs you nothing to treat others with kindness. It requires minimal effort on your part but could have lasting impacts.
Even when you are dealing with difficult situations, there is no reason to take your frustrations out on those who are trying to help you. Chances are that they are already doing everything within their power to resolve the issue. Treating others poorly won’t fix your problems. However, it could make them even worse.
You have to remember that these aren’t automated systems you’re dealing with; they’re real people. Treating them with respect may earn you an ally. Although I can’t speak for others, I was more willing to help those who showed me kindness. I would also find ways to save them money when they treated me like a friend rather than “the help.”
While there are no guarantees that it will reap financial benefits, I think you can put a price on kindness. Even if it doesn’t bring monetary savings, it could change someone’s day for the better. Feeling that you aren’t invisible and that your work matters is important. For some, making someone feel valued is the greatest reward of all.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.