Let’s take a moment to be kind
It’s a crazy world out there, and now more than ever we need to be kind to each other. In our communities, our workplaces and our lives, acts of kindness have a ripple effect. How can leaders be kind and encourage others in turn?
“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” Dalai Lama
This is one of my favourite quotes because kindness always has such a big impact on the lives of those around us (and in turn, ourselves).
I was given a timely reminder of the value of acts of kindness this week, when one of our own crew received a beautiful ‘thank you’ card just for being themselves and doing their job.
The card was sent as part of b kinder day, an annual event celebrated on June 22 worldwide that encourages thoughtfulness and empathy. The b kinder initiative was started by the wonderful charity Fly High Billie to promote empathy and compassion in school age children to help combat mental health issues, bullying and suicide.
One popular activity is to purchase a ‘b kinder card’ and send it to someone, creating a ripple effect of kindness through the community. Last year, more than 8,500 of these cards were sent around the world. Other random acts of kindness are encouraged as well, including giving toys, visiting nursing homes, planting sunflowers and making cakes for those that are currently homeless.
What a wonderful idea!
Can you guess who received the card in our team? No, it wasn’t me, nor was it my business partner, Alice. It was actually one of our lovely horses, Cal. Abbie, a small business manager, who worked with Cal wrote, “so many people have been inspired by you…keep being you.”
Kindness is especially important right now, particularly towards those who’ve been impacted by recent events in Australia and around the world. Families and communities who lost homes and businesses in the recent bushfires. Those who have been left without jobs, become ill, or lost a loved one due to COVID-19. And those who have experienced the kind of racial discrimination highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Encouraging kindness in the workplace
Our programs include kindness as one of the core values of leadership, alongside other values like authenticity and respect. In fact, you literally won’t get anywhere without these soft leadership skills when working with our horses. If they don’t feel that safe leadership piece, they will often plant their feet and you can’t budge a 500kg team mate!
Kindness has, in fact, been proven to be a positive force in the office. A couple of years ago, this study, published in psychology journal Emotion, measured some of the benefits of kindness for both givers and receivers.
Employees in a corporation were randomly assigned to be givers, receivers and controls. Givers practiced five acts of kindness towards receivers over four weeks. Both givers and receivers benefitted, both in short-term measures like competence and autonomy, and in the long-term, with receivers becoming happier after two months and givers more satisfied with their lives. Givers also inspired others to pay their acts of kindness forward, with receivers engaging in 278% more pro-social behaviours than controls.
Kindness is contagious!
So there you go – not just nice to have, but a genuine benefit for your working environment. Here are a few of my ideas for spreading kindness in your team (no doubt you’re already doing a few!):
- Remember to give praise for work well done and encourage this behaviour in teams. Just a quick group email or video conference has the ability to lift everyone’s spirits.
- If team members seem to be struggling, try to be compassionate and see if you can help. Remember they’re all individuals with their own issues.
- Nice gestures go a long way. They don’t have to be expensive gifts to be powerful (the b kinder cards are a great example of why).
- Be kind to those outside your organisation too. Your clients may be facing a lot of issues of their own. And there are many out of work who may be looking to connect or ask for advice. You never know when that may be repaid in turn.
What’s the last act of kindness you performed? What’s a kindness that was shown towards you? Let us know in the comments! For more info or to subscribe to occasional updates please email firstname.lastname@example.org