The Brain Hack You Never Knew You Needed 

Image from Grishma Jashapara

By Grishma Jashapara

Helping others is more than just a good deed; it’s a powerful tool for boosting your own intelligence and success. Discover how selflessness can unlock your full potential.  

Kids who help other kids tend to develop better social skills, empathy, and deeper cognitive abilities, which lead to greater success in adulthood.   

Studies have shown that when a child helps another child, it enhances their understanding and reinforces their own learning. Explaining concepts to peers requires the helper to process and articulate information clearly, deepening their comprehension. This active engagement in teaching improves cognitive abilities and retention of knowledge. It also boosts critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as the helper often needs to find different ways to explain concepts. This collaborative effort promotes a deeper mastery of the subject matter for the helper.  

Additionally, children motivated by genuine concern for others, rather than a desire for recognition, display higher levels of altruism, which is beneficial for personal development​​. 

Research indicates that cooperative learning and helping behaviours in children are linked to improved social competence, empathy, and overall well-being. These skills are crucial for success in later life, influencing factors such as employment, relationships, and mental health​.  

Knowledge Hoarding

Image from Grishma Jashapara
Image from Grishma Jashapara 

A common challenge in professional settings is “knowledge hoarding”, where individuals intentionally keep information or skills to themselves rather than sharing with others. This behaviour can be driven by several factors: 

  1. Fear of Losing Power: Knowledge is often seen as a source of power. By keeping information to themselves, individuals may believe they maintain an advantage over others, safeguarding their position and influence.
  2. Job Security: Employees may hoard knowledge to make themselves indispensable. The belief that sharing information could make them redundant or less valuable can drive this behaviour.
  3. Lack of Trust: If the organisational culture is competitive or if there is a lack of trust among team members, individuals may withhold information to protect themselves from potential negative consequences.
  4. Personal Insecurity: Individuals who doubt their own abilities may hoard knowledge to mask their insecurities. By not sharing what they know, they avoid being questioned or challenged. 
  5. Perceived Inequity: When people feel that their efforts and contributions are not fairly recognised or rewarded, they may resort to hoarding knowledge as a form of silent protest or self-preservation.
  6. Competitive Culture: In environments where competition is encouraged over collaboration, knowledge hoarding can become a norm. Employees may feel that sharing information could benefit their competitors within the same organisation. 

In actual fact, knowledge hoarding is counterproductive both for the organisation and the individual. In the workplace it stifles collaboration, reduces innovation, and leads to inefficiencies. When knowledge is not shared, teams can’t benefit from collective expertise, which can hinder problem-solving and overall organisational growth. 

For the individual, knowledge hoarding can be counterproductive because it limits their own growth and development. By not sharing knowledge, they miss out on feedback and new perspectives that could enhance their understanding. It can also damage their relationships with colleagues, leading to isolation and a lack of support. Moreover, it creates a negative reputation, making others less likely to collaborate or share information with them, which can hinder career progression and opportunities for advancement. 

Knowledge Sharing 

Image from Grishma Jashapara 
Image from Grishma Jashapara

Understanding the psychological motivations behind knowledge hoarding can help organisations address this behaviour by fostering a culture of trust, recognition, and collaboration. Encouraging open communication, rewarding knowledge sharing, and building a supportive work environment are essential steps in mitigating this issue. 

Organisations can cultivate a culture of helping and collaboration through practical measures:  

  • Implementing Knowledge Sharing Platforms: Providing tools and platforms where employees can easily share information and resources such as internal forums, wikis, or regular knowledge-sharing sessions, encourages collaboration.
  • Recognition and Rewards: Implement recognition programs that highlight and reward employees who assist others and work collaboratively. 
  • Training and Development: Offering training that emphasises the importance of teamwork, empathy, and effective communication can help change mindsets. 
  • Promoting Mentorship Programs: Establish mentorship schemes where experienced employees can guide and support newer or less experienced colleagues. 
  • Encouraging Cross-Functional Teams: Promote projects that require collaboration across different departments to solve problems and innovate. 
  • Leadership Modelling: Ensure leaders and managers model collaborative behaviour, demonstrating the importance of helping others and sharing knowledge. 
  • Team-building Activities: Regular team-building exercises can strengthen trust and relationships among team members, fostering a more collaborative environment. 
  • Setting Clear Expectations: Clearly defining the expectations for knowledge sharing as part of the organisational culture helps embed these values into daily practices. 
  • Creating a Supportive Environment: Foster a culture where seeking and offering help is encouraged and valued, reducing the fear of losing job security or power. 

The principle that teaching and helping others enhances cognitive and emotional growth provides insight into why the smartest individuals are often the kindest and most helpful.  

The act of helping others reinforces understanding, promotes empathy, and fosters a collaborative spirit. This supportive behaviour can lead to increased productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction for both the individual and the organisation. Individuals who demonstrate empathy and cooperation are often seen as valuable team players and leaders, which can positively impact their career progression.  

About the Author 

Grishma JashaparaGrishma Jashapara is the Managing Partner at Fusion Associates, with a rich background in entrepreneurship, music management, and executive recruitment. Her expertise lies in spearheading senior appointments within the global fashion and luxury sectors and writing on the big issues of today and tomorrow. 


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