I’m always surprised when I see a reminder, usually on social media, to be kind to others. Kindness is a basic value most humans share, but we can get caught up in our own stuff.
Sometimes we’re so focused on our expected outcome that we forget to consider what others around us experience, because of us, near us, in spite of us.
A reminder of the obvious is never offensive but often unnecessary. It’s like being reminded to breathe, and at its worst, it’s virtue signaling. Rather than remind anyone to be kind, perhaps you could remember what it means to be kind.
Kindness All Around
Although the pay-it-forward trend is old news by now, it still happens from time to time. Strangers sometimes pick up the tab for someone else in the coffee line or offer a few dollars at the checkout when someone comes up short.
Kindness is all over the internet with donation pages popping up for every loss or need imaginable. People give generously to strangers in need. On a larger scale, Americans make donations to causes around the world they believe in. Our collective kindness is often on display.
Kindness At Home
Small personal acts of kindness seem more rare. Where is the kindness in the coffee line when the barista can’t keep up with the orders? What I see are entitled snots of all ages complaining about the wait or impugning the competence of the person behind the counter.
Where is the kindness on the road? Highways around many of our urban areas are clogged with traffic. Merging lanes is made impossible by a lack of kindness and a resistance to yield. Random vehicles speed through tight spots making dangerous maneuvers in an effort to get there first — but where are they going? Could they all be running late for a charity event?
Kindness At Work
Despite the evolution of leadership and the elevation of management as a niche discipline, the kindness at work is often missing. A manager recently told me his company’s management philosophy is to “be good for them, not good to them.” Remember, managers are the ones who set the example.
Where is the kindness when employees are publicly criticized and demeaned? There is no kindness in the practice of withholding information until just before the deadline, forcing everyone to scramble needlessly. Office politics among subordinates demonstrates the opposite of true teamwork and a decided lack of kindness.
Remember to be Kind
While you are participating in global and visible acts of kindness, remember to be kind here at home, in your own life, to the people around you every day. Kindness is not just about big donations and participating in charity events for global causes.
Kindness can change the world if it begins at home. It’s the small, unseen acts of kindness that really matter.
- Be kind to your family and neighbors. Try to see their good intentions and encourage them to deepen their relationships in love and connection.
- Be kind to your friends, even the ones who do not agree with your position. Respect their intelligence and conviction by asking questions rather than assuming a critical stance and requiring conformity.
- Be kind to your colleagues; strive to achieve together for the good of the organization. Step in with a solution rather than blame. Fill in the performance gaps instead of widening them.
- Be kind to the other drivers on the road. They are people in a hurry to get home just like you. Allowing one or two vehicles to merge in front of you will not delay your arrival and it might save everyone from an unfortunate incident.
- Be kind to the waitress at your favorite dinner spot and the barista who makes your daily beverage. Whether they are good at what they do or not, your harsh words will not improve the situation. But, your kindness might brighten their day and lighten everyone’s mood for the moment.
When you can be kind in the small quiet moments, when you can put your own hope for gain aside and give someone else what they need in the moment, when you can lend a hand or some words of encouragement in a seemingly impossible situation, then you know what it means to be kind. That’s when you can share the gift by reminding others to be kind, too.