I’d be Kind If I had the Time
I’d be kind if I had the time. Thankfully, you don’t have to be kind when the house is on fire. And it seems like there’s always a crisis.
It’s not that you’re intentionally unkind. It’s that crisis mode frees us from obligations to show kindness. Sadly, some of us are in constant crisis mode. But…
Constant crisis mode springs from the myth of self-importance.
I challenged myself and some friends to make this kindness week. A leader texted me this morning, “I’m trying to be kind. But it’s not easy.” Now there’s some truth!
Developing a leadership behavior is more difficult than simply getting things done.
The trouble with kindness:
Kindness is about others. When you’re consumed with yourself, kindness is bothersome.
Kindness takes effort. You’re consumed with timelines and deadlines. It takes effort to remember simple acts of kindness.
Time pressure makes serving others difficult.
You’re juggling a million important things. The first thing that drops is kindness.
Shift in thinking:
Kindness is less burdensome if you show up to serve, even if you have a full agenda.
All it takes to be unkind is to neglect kindness.
You’re unkind if you aren’t practicing kindness.
Kindness is about who you are, not what you do.
Increments of kindness:
Leadership development is like being on a diet. Success comes in small increments. It’s better to lose ½ a pound a week for six weeks than 3 pounds in one week. The results last longer, too.
Kindness challenge: Walk around with your head up looking for opportunities to be kind.
Kindness, for me, is looking for opportunities to show respect to others.
What does showing kindness look like to you?
Challenge: Ask coworkers, “If I showed more kindness, what would you see me doing?”
Don’t miss the video about kindness and toughness on Facebook. (3:13)
This is excellent. Am I too busy, too self-absorbed to show kindness? This is so necessary in my home and with my family – it starts here. Then to the classroom and congregation where I serve as pastor and teacher. Kindness is all about others!
Thanks Pete. Bring these ideas home. It might be easier to be kind to people we don’t live with. Perhaps forgiveness keeps kindness alive, when it comes to people we live with. Cheers
Some simple things holding door for others, giving up your seat for others, smile and greet, asking family questions to co workers, sharing stories which make people laugh or simply encourage conversations on their interests sincerely.
Can I help you lifting the box, or others objects especially when they are struggling. When you see someone standing beside the street after rain steer clear of puddles.
Exactly!! It’s the little nudges that get us there. We might love dramatic kindness. But, in the real world, we have many more small moments than dramatic.
The greeting has become important to me. Greet people like your glad to see them, even if you saw them yesterday. I call it the touch down greeting. Raise a hand or two in the air. “Good to see you.”
Love the touchdown idea for greetings!
Sad to say sometimes people see kindness as a weakness. That to be respected you have be that scary boss that never smiles. I have worked for these types and I think they use it to scare away employees to prevent them from bringing up issues or to try/dare to hold a leader accountable. I was told “if you are a leader you must always be in control and show that you are strong”. I believe you cant lead people who don’t respect you or that are afraid of you. You may get short term compliance but long term disengagement and no respect at all. Thank you for the reminder to smile.
I’m so glad you jumped in today, Walt. For some, kindness IS weakness. They avoid tough conversations and painful challenges.
Kindness AND toughness is the ticket that prevents kindness from being weakness.
I was thinking about this after today’s post. The tougher we need to be, the more kindness we need to exhibit. Unfortunately, we tend to do the opposite. When we up our toughness game we lower our kindness game.
Good stuff dan!
Thanks, Dan. The best and most memorable bosses for me have been the kind–and humble–ones. I have seen those two qualities exist together quite often.
Oooo, that’s great. So glad you brought the “H” word to the conversation. Kindness seems to be an expression of humility.
If one needs time to be kind, they never had a Mother.
Thanks Jim. Mothers are busy and they seem to find time to be kind. 🙂
Mothers don’t need extra time to be kind because it’s part of good mothering. It’s built in to the process. If you see kindness as taking up time you’re probably doing it wrong.
The idea that Kindness is even associated with time is a foreign concept to me. Kindness should be a natural quality of us all. Obviously, society has lost any simpliance of time for Kindness.
I have seen this bad habit in myself when work gets busy weeks at a time. Just as you said, it’s not intentional but I need to make sure that I take a few minutes periodically to check in with my group to see how they are doing. I’m going to save this article to help to remind me!
I really enjoy reading your blogs – thanks!
A proverb I like is: “A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings disaster on himself.”- Proverbs 11:17
Dan, there’s an extensive body of literature around this, going way back to Classical times (Lucius Accius and Aristotle), but the main source is in Machiavelli’s seminal book on management, The Prince ” …it is far safer to be feared than loved…”
I have a strong suspicion that if I asked my coworkers, “If I showed more kindness, what would you see me doing?” the answer from my superiors would be “Not making enough money!”
“You’re consumed with timelines and deadlines. It takes effort to remember simple acts of kindness.” For those that think kindness slows you down, I will counter with what a colleague told me the other day. “Since you are always so kind and ask so nicely, it is amazing how your request quickly moves to the top of the pile. Others aren’t so lucky.”
I also think a term I learned a long time ago is relevant here, Psychological Reciprocity. When we show kindness to others, after a while it starts becoming part of the culture and we see team members “reciprocating” with the same kindness that has been given to them.
Quote from Remember the Titans… “Attitude reflects Leadership Captain”
I know for me, lately I have been trying to always say Hello, How are you? to all the people I see at work that I do not know. These are people such as outside truck drivers, delivery people and contractors. Before I would say Hello, but never with much meaning or I wouldn’t say any other greeting. I’m not sure why I made this decision to change and to say Hello with more excitement and “niceness” behind it, but it makes me feel better. I hope it makes everyone I meet feel better too about coming into the company.
This article as most of yours Dan Rockwell inspires me to take action: in this case to call a few people just to ask “How are you? Is there anything I can do to help?” It only takes a few minutes and can mean some light shining for those people too often left alone. Thanks for sharing your inspiration. Positively, Pauline
We are all busy and it doesn’t take any more effort or time to be kind. When assigning work, do it with kindness. When someone on the team needs help to understand, show empathy. Use kind words when talking to others. Use a kind tone of voice, too!
Kindness costs nothing.