A favorite author, Richard Carlson, said “Choose being kind over being right, and you’ll be right every time”. This quote captures the essence of a key skill in every leader’s toolbox – and one that is often rusty and not often thought of, much less used. Being kind is something most of us learned growing up when we were told to ‘be nice’ (at least I know I heard that…a lot), but for some reason it isn’t something that feels intuitive to us in a work environment. We get so caught up in how we feel we should act and are perceived that we forget about the impact of our words and actions on those around us.
If you’re wondering where opportunities for kindness might be found at work…they abound. The most obvious is actively looking for ways to show appreciation for the people around you. While it may be hard to believe, we’re all doing the best we can in any given moment and your kind (or unkind) word could make all the difference in the trajectory of someone’s day. That isn’t to say that there aren’t times when we must have difficult conversations and relay tough messages, but in every case, this can be done with kindness and compassion. It costs nothing, and the result will be exponentially better than going down the passive aggressive, ‘snarky’ or even just plan mean paths.
Another great place to look is at yourself. How can you find ways to be kinder to yourself? Maybe it means muting the ‘inner critic’ that’s constantly buzzing in the back of your mind or letting the perfectionist have the day off. Taking really good care of yourself allows you to be there to help and take care of others. In my experience, those people who may feel the most difficult to deal with are those who are the least kind to themselves, and that lack of self-care and compassion manifests as negative behaviors. That is a tough one to really get, but I can promise you it’s true.
So, let’s start a revolution of kindness. Find just one opportunity to be a little kinder to someone today and one thing you can do to be kind to yourself. Better yet, make it a daily, intentional practice. It will change your life, and you just might make all the difference in someone else’s while you’re at it.