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Softness: The Secret to a Peaceful Path

Yes, softness can help you win at work and even help you avoid being run over by your kids.

You might be thinking, I have toddlers or teenagers. They would run right over me if I turn soft. My employees or coworkers will take advantage of me. How can softness possibly be my secret to a peaceful path?

What is Softness?

Think of a time when someone showed you kindness. How did that make you feel? Connected? Embraced? Whole? Supported? When you were young, did you have someone in your life who was curious and interested in your growth? Who celebrated your milestones? How did they make you feel? If you didn’t a cheerleader like that in your life, don’t you wish you did?

The Anti-Soft

I am a lawyer, and early in my career, I had a boss who epitomized aggressive leadership. She led by intimidation and fear. She was an excellent litigator but when it came leading people, she was abrasive, condescending, dishonest when it suited her, and she was a master at gaslighting before it was a thing.
The law firm staff walked in fear daily and it seemed like she was threatening to fire someone every week. Not surprisingly, we had high turnover because our staff was either fired or they quit because of stress and burnout.
I was young back then, and while I loved the work, I shed many tears working at that firm. I promised myself no job would ever be worth the pain of that kind of leadership style. Have you experienced a hard leader? Do you know people who have endured their own aggressive bosses? If so, you might agree that this leadership style is not effective long term. Generally, we like being treated with warm, genuine kindness.
The Science of Softness
In recent years, we are seeing an increase in focus on soft skills embodying effective leadership. According to a Forbes article, employees increased productivity by 15 percent when their bosses praised their performance and encouraged them. In another study, babies who were touched and cuddled grew up to have more empathy and they were kinder than children who were not hugged.
The science demonstrates that both children and adults perform better and are better world citizens when treated with softness.
What Does Being Softer Look Like
What does softness look like? Here are some examples.
Treat your family members with the same courtesy and consideration that you might extend to your coworkers. Basic manners including “please”, “thank you”, and “I appreciate you” can go a long way in promoting healthier and more nurturing relationships in your household. When aimed at kids, these kindnesses can increase their willingness to comply with your requests or follow discipline.
Being more accepting, curious, and interested in the ideas that your team members bring forward can increase creativity and a sense of teamwork.
Being slower to speak or criticize and quicker to ask questions can increase the feeling of being supported among team or family members. This in turn can increase loyalty.
You can embrace your family, friends, and coworkers in the fullness of who they are with all their strengths, weaknesses, and quirks because you aren’t perfect either. This can reduce your own sense of stress and frustration.

How You Can Be Softer

Where do you start in becoming softer? First, we think, then we do, then we become. If softness isn’t your thing, it might be daunting to think of turning over a whole new leaf. Instead, start with one step. Every action begins with a thought. Consistent action can become a habit. Over time, habits transform who we are.

At the start of each day, spend five minutes visualizing yourself doing one soft thing. It could be as simple as saying something nice to someone. It could be encouraging or expressing appreciation.

Over time, it will become easier to find opportunities to express your softness. Also, you tend to attract what you reflect. Hence, as you become softer, you may find the world increasingly softening towards you.

This article originally appeared as “Softness: The Secret to a Peaceful Path” in


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