We need kindness now more than ever before.
In the age of hyper-connectivity, we've become more disconnected than ever - from others, from ourselves, from what truly matters. We seem to have forgotten how to be kind. Or maybe we don’t see it as a priority.
But Bo Lozoff of the Human Kindness Foundation says:
In the midst of global crises such as pollution, wars and famine, kindness may be too easily dismissed as a 'soft' issue, or a luxury to be addressed after the urgent problems are solved. But kindness is the greatest need in all those areas - kindness toward the environment, toward other nations, toward the needs of people who are suffering. Until we reflect basic kindness in everything we do, our political gestures will be fleeting and fragile.
Benefits of kindness
Our kindness creates ripples that reach far and wide and can truly make this world a better place.
Being kind is also good for our own health and wellbeing - it changes the brain, impacts the heart and immune system, and may even be an antidote to depression.
We're genetically wired to be kind.
The author of "The Five Side Effects of Kindness", David Hamilton, collected scientific evidence on the impact of kindness and concluded that being kind:
- makes us happier
- is good for the heart
- slows ageing
- improves relationships
- is contagious
Creating a culture of kindness
The truth is that we can all contribute to creating a culture of kindness right where we are.
Each of us is responsible for the level of kindness within the 2-meter radius from where we stand.
We can practise kindness through small acts that make a big difference - at home, with our colleagues, with the people we brush shoulders with as we go about our daily lives.
Here are 5 ideas on how you can spread a little bit of kindness from your office today:
1. Say "thank you"
Do you have someone in your life who you really appreciate or someone who's made a hugely positive impact on you and yet you never really told them how important they've been for you? Send them a note (or - even better - call them or meet face-to-face) and tell them how grateful you are and how much they mean to you.
2. Be present
In our interview, Patsy Rodenburg said: "It's easier not to be present but it's critical that we are." When someone walks into your office today or calls you on the phone, simply see what it's like to give them your full, undivided attention.
3. Do something for a colleague without being asked
It may be something as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee for them as you are getting yours. Or helping out with that big project they are working on. Or sending them some useful materials for the research they are doing. You get the drift. Just be helpful for the sheer joy of doing it!
I know that it sounds like such a tiny thing but making eye contact and smiling at someone can really make their day. We live in a world where people are lost in their thoughts (or their mobile devices) and we crave human connection and acknowledgement more than ever before. Instead of keeping your head down - look at people today - and SMILE!
5. Build people up
We will never make ourselves better by tearing others down. There's too much unsolicited, unkind criticism on social media and too much gossip and negative judgment in the workplace. Let's stop focusing on what people do wrong and start noticing their good work, small victories and their honest efforts to create something good. Let's encourage them to keep going. Give a colleague a genuine compliment about their skills or their work. Talk about them behind their back in super positive terms. Share people's posts on social media when you like them. Build them up. Don't tear them down. It will make you stronger, too.
I’d love to hear how you and people around you practice kindness and build a culture of kindness in your organisation.