We tend to underestimate how much our kindness impacts the one to whom we are kind.
It has been very exciting to see our LINK serving teams coming back to serving meals from the serving line, the way we did prior to the pandemic. We can’t adequately express our gratitude for those who kept LINK’s food service happening with sack lunches during the pandemic—your generosity was awesome—but there is nothing quite like the dynamic of a serving team working together to set up the serving line and dish up good, hot meals to our guests. Smiles abound on service team members and guests alike. This work makes a big difference in the everyday lives of people in our community.
A study published in 2023 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, by researchers A. Kumar (University of Texas Austin) and N. Epley (University of Chicago), has uncovered an interesting phenomenon concerning random acts of kindness and their impact on the recipients
of those kindnesses. The researchers ran a variety of social experiments involving random kind acts, such as giving someone a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day, or paying for a stranger’s meal at a restaurant, or delivering a cupcake randomly to someone. It has been demonstrated in other studies that the act of serving another person has positive effects on the well-being of the server, including something that has been referred to as “server’s high,” but what this new study reveals is that we tend to underestimate how much our kindness impacts the one to whom we are kind.
In this study, subjects were asked to perform various acts of kindness to strangers, and they were asked how it made them feel, and how they expected it made the strangers feel. The people performing the acts of kindness consistently underestimated (by a significant amount) how much their act was appreciated by the recipient. The researchers also looked at the difference between receiving something unexpectedly and receiving something as an act of kindness from someone else, and the extra bump in appreciation only showed up when the recipient knew that someone had acted in kindness toward them.
Serving at LINK is really enjoyable! (You servers know this.) And it definitely feels good to do something that benefits other people. But it is possible that we don’t fully understand just how big the impact is on the lives of the people we serve. Your kindness can lift spirits, brighten days, ease burdens, and extended hope.
If you are already part of a serving team, thanks so much for your work and your kindness! And if you haven’t tried serving yet, or if you’re interested in putting together a serving team, let us know—we can help you get started!
— By Doug Heacock, member of the LINK Board of Directors