I’m an observer. I love nothing more than to sit back and watch things unfold. I like to see if I can predict outcomes by simply objectively observing. I studied Anthropology because I loved the idea of gaining understanding through observation. Because of this, I have a pretty keen ability to read people and situations. I can gauge actions, reactions, best approaches, and pivot my engagement for success. Because of my training, I’m always surprised when I see people walking into a proverbial lion's den of emotions without being prepared for it or without knowing how to best manage the energy.
I see this happen in all kinds of places: shopping, at the doctor’s office, etc., but where I see it illuminated most is in workplaces. Most of the time I want to run in and scream, “Just be Kind.” I know we all have a million things going on in our lives, but if we became intentional about our kindness, we could not only improve our daily interactions, we would improve our lives. Kindness separates the good from the great.
A few weeks ago I was in a meeting with someone who really wanted to get their point across. Their approach was to take a hard-nosed, serious approach. They sat in this meeting and appeared to be scowling at anyone who asked a question or wanted additional information. As I sat there, I debated on if I should slide a note over that just said, “Relax. Be kind. It will be okay.” I didn’t, but as the meeting progressed this person’s approach became even more disconnected from the outcome for which I’m sure they were hoping. By the end, the individual was yelling, and everyone else had completely shut down. Why could they not see the impact their attitude was having on the meeting?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing individuals who are leaders in various industries. I learn a lot from these leaders; with every interaction comes a deeper understanding of what makes them great. The traits I admire most in leaders are those who deliver fairness, strength, and effectiveness, while being kind. Here’s why: A few years ago, a boss told me I was too kind and that trait would cause me to be less successful as a leader. It shocked me. How could being kind diminish my ability to lead? I’ve always considered it one of my strongest attributes, yet this individual saw it as a weakness.
Kindness just means to take into consideration the other individual(s) in the situation. Could you imagine how our daily interactions would improve if we all operated from a place of kindness? I’m not suggesting we all become Disney characters and smile and nod our way through life. There is a difference between being kind and being nice. Kindness is being helpful, humane, or considerate. Niceness is always being agreeable or pleasing. You may not always agree with someone, but you can always be considerate of them and their perspective. You may not always be “pleasing” to others, but you can still treat them humanely and be helpful.
Kind is not a four-letter word. Kindness is not a weakness. Kindness doesn't mean silence or not speaking your truth. Kindness does not mean that everyone will agree with you or vice versa. Simply, kindness just means you give a damn. Not just about yourself, but for others as well. Kindness can improve our humanity, and we seem to be in desperate need for a dose.
Think back to a situation in your own life where if you had chosen kindness, the outcome would have been improved for the better. I challenge you to intentionally incorporate kindness into your life and see how it changes.