Understanding how to avoid body language mistakes and stop interrupters are two surefire ways you can help communicate with your co-workers more effectively. But when it comes to making a major difference that can totally boost positive culture and group success, we recently learned the golden rule really IS gold. That’s right, gals —according to Google, simple kindness is the key to amazing teamwork, which in turn leads to a happier, healthier and thriving workplace for everyone.

It’s really not a surprise that one of the world’s most recognized and admired companies dove deep into trying to understand what makes teams productive. The research effort, called Project Aristotle, spanned multiple years while the team interviewed hundreds of Googlers and looked at data for 180 teams within the company. In the end, the researchers shared their surprise about what they found — there was no fancy algorithm, formula or magic mix to what worked the best when it came to amazing output. Incredibly, all it took was teammates who respected each other’s emotions and worked hard to foster an environment where everyone felt like they could contribute. It almost seems too good to be true, right?

Group of young business professionals having a meeting

Don’t worry though; it’s not. Google’s findings about the awesome stuff that can happen when people feel comfortable actually match decades-old, popular research that talks about how important it is for people to feel “psychologically safe” at work. The smart concept calls for a professional environment where people feel like they can take risks or explore ideas without being embarrassed. To get a read on the team dynamics and Project Aristotle participants’ emotions, Google asked, “Did you feel like you could ask what the goal was without the risk of sounding like you’re the only one out of the loop? Or did you opt for continuing without clarifying anything, in order to avoid being perceived as someone who is unaware?” Responses helped the researchers finally confirm that feeling psychologically safe at work — a sense provided by managers and coworkers who are respectful and kind — is the most important key to a successful team. The takeaway? Be nice, and inspire everyone to behave the same.

Have you ever worked on a mean team or with people who stifled your creativity or contributions? Share your horror stories with us on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty, h/t The New York Times)