What do inspiring leaders, respected coaches, loved parents, and cherished friends all have in common? They’re KIND.
It’s pretty simple and very powerful. But there’s more to it than simply avoiding rudeness. Kindness is proactive.
Add the following kindness strategies to your daily behavior at work or at home and YOU WILL SEE POSITIVE RESULTS! You will see more cooperation from others coming your way, more sales, higher morale, and better relationships.
► 1. Make a conscious decision to show more kindness
There’s been a movement to encourage random acts of kindness. That’s great. It makes the world a better place.
But your relationships are built on a conscious decision to show more kindness, not random ones you occasionally remember to do.
William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, made a conscious decision to do exactly that. He declared, “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Of course some uninformed people will object to my suggestion by saying they don’t always “feel” kind. That’s baloney. Your feelings have nothing to do with your decision. As classic author Samuel Johnson wrote, “Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” In other words, you can still be kind, even when you don’t feel kind, if you’ve made a conscious decision to show more kindness.
► 2. Make it a habit to show kindness every day.
Take on the kindness challenge. For one day, show a little kindness to every person you meet. That’s right … every person. That includes a passerby in the hallway, a clerk at the gas pump, your newest prospect, a long-time customer, and each of your friends and family that cross your path.
When you encounter another person, simply ask yourself, “What can I do right now to make that person’s life a little better?” Maybe you listen for thirty seconds, give a compliment, help carry a package, or find a telephone number. Just do something kind to brighten that person’s world.
As you take on the kindness challenge, pay attention to the reaction you get from others. Notice how you feel. And if you like what you see and how you feel, take on the kindness challenge for another day. And another day, and another day, and another day until kindness becomes one of your habits and kindness becomes one of the adjectives that describes who you really are.
As Barbara DeAngelis, a relationship research expert says, “Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.”
► 3. Do little things that make a big impact.
When I teach “the power of kindness” in my 4C Leadership: Communication, Cooperation, Commitment, and Change program, there’s always someone who says they’re too busy for all this touchy-feely stuff. They equate kindness with having to do things that would take huge amounts of time, money, or energy.
Of course some acts of kindness are expensive, but there are thousands of little acts of kindness you can perform that have a huge impact. Consider the following.
- Hold a door for a stranger.
- Do the dishes, even though it’s your spouse’s “job.”
- Do something for your partner without having to be asked.
- Remember and follow through on your promises, promptly.
- Ask a person that is sitting alone in the company cafeteria if you could join them for lunch.
- Call a team member (or anyone, for that matter) who has been sick, just to see how they are.
- Ask a new person each week to take a walk with you on their lunch hour so you can get more acquainted.
- Remember things that are important to the other person, even though they may not be important to you.
- Listen and then listen some more, without having to put in your two cents worth or needing to have the last word.
- Bring in treats. And it doesn’t matter what your job is. You could bring in donuts for the night shift personnel in the morning as they get off work. You could treat your team to pizza for lunch. You could watch for the postal carrier or the custodian and offer them a cold drink. You could offer a cup of coffee to someone in uniform and say “thank you.”
As you can see, the kindness list is endless. They’re all little things, but I guarantee you that they will be long remembered.
► 4. Do acts of kindness now.
The great American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.”
How true! We can all think of good intentions we’ve had … of kind things we were going to do … and somehow or other the opportunity slipped away. The timing no longer worked; the mood was wrong; the other person passed away, or circumstances made it impossible. Whatever. The best time to perform an act of kindness is almost always NOW.
Don’t tell someone “we’ve got to get together real soon,” without setting a date and time. If you leave out that detail, chances are it will be a long time before you get together, and that’s not kind. Set the time NOW.
If you have to give someone some bad news, do it sooner than later. If you know a certain relationship is over, tell the other person NOW. It’s not kind to keep the other person in the dark, thinking they have a relationship when they don’t.
If you are visiting someone special, ask yourself what kind things you want to tell them before you say goodbye. Say it NOW. You never know when it will be too late.
I know that practice has given me great peace. Whenever I visited my father in the last few years of his life, we would always finish the visit by asking if there was anything else we wanted to make sure we said. And so, when he passed there were no regrets. And it’s the same practice I’m following as I visit my brother with early onset Alzheimer’s. We make sure we say the kind things NOW.