Henry James said, “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”
As a young man I participated in the Boy Scouts and would weekly raise my arm to the square making the Scout sign and recite the Scout Oath and Law. I have tried to pattern my life after the precepts in those promises as I truly believe they turn boys to men and men into better men. “A Scout is…Kind…”
Throughout this pandemic, our anxieties have risen and uncertainty has caused stress in our lives. We have seen issues of racial inequity and inequality trigger riots and unrest. A contentious election season has added to the conflict we each experience. Many have become sick, many have died, many have lost their jobs and had their lives impacted by quarantine, schooling and working from home. There is much we can mourn. There is much we could become angry about. Who isn’t stressed, anxious or feeling out of normal?
It is in these times we must dig into our toolkits and find the tool that will help us through all we are experiencing. The simple tool of Kindness may be the right one.
This is not just kindness in words and gestures. It must be sincere. We must be kind because it is our nature and in each and every interaction we have with others it must be shown. It must be coupled with compassion. You can be kind and compassionate and strong at the same time. It will be contagious as well.
Boris Groysberg and Susan Seligson in a recent article for the Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge publication gave some effective ways to show kindness. They share the following phrases we can use to practice kindness:
“I hear you.” Really listen. Be fully present and don’t judge. Encourage…questions and concerns. Listen actively…”
“Are you okay?” Show a willingness to provide comfort and monitor for signs of distress such as social withdrawal and poor performance. Know when to refer…to professionals.”
“What can we do to help?” It may be as simple as validating…personal challenges…But being kind might also involve taking an active role…”
“How are you managing these days?”…be sensitive to the issues of exhaustion and the difficulty of working…unorthodox hours…”
“I’m here for you.” Let [others] know routinely that you are there for them when they need to share concerns or simply require a sympathetic, nonjudgmental ear.”
“I know you’re doing the best you can.” This statement is, with few exceptions, true.”
“Thank you.” Say it with sincerity and say it often.”
Philo of Alexandria said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
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