Nearly 2,500 years ago, Plato wrote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Wisdom such as this has staying power.
Even so, it can be tempting, as we go about our daily lives, to get impatient, annoyed, or judgmental when the people we encounter don’t behave in a way that suits us. The unhelpful customer service person, the rude person at the checkout counter, the parents of the disruptive child, the critical or demanding client, the distracted driver.…
You get the idea: How often do we find ourselves thinking: “What’s their problem!!??”
The fact is, even among the people who we know well—or think we know well—there tends to be a lot going on beneath the surface that we know nothing about. I often remind myself of that, and it helps me to recognize others’ humanity—as I hope others will recognize mine!
Kindness is a wonderful, multifaceted thing. Here’s how the five C’s of kindness can make a powerful impact on our life and business, often in ways we weren’t expecting.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato
1. Kindness is contagious.
When we seek first to understand, we set off a ripple effect of empathy. Others see the difference—and when given a choice between the low road of knee-jerk judgment and the high road of holding to the good, the latter is what draws positive energy into our lives. At the same time, it helps build business.
2. Kindness is compassionate.
We can only know so much about the battles those around us are fighting. The choice to extend kindness, wherever possible, however, stands to lighten others’ burdens while lighting our world with positive energy.
3. Kindness is curious.
Kindness is knowing when to ask the right question. Like nearly everything else in life, kindness is a choice, and when we stop expecting everyone around us to behave according to our standards, and we instead stop to ask how others are doing and how we can help, walls and frustration quickly melt away.
4. Kindness is creative.
Kindness takes on many forms. As Gary Chapman pointed out in “The Five Love Languages,” we are all wired differently in the ways we reach out to others and in the expressions of kindness that are most meaningful. I see this as a reminder of the many opportunities to be creative in our expressions of kindness.
Often, a knowing look means a lot.
There are other times when simply a pat on shoulder or a hug serves as an extremely meaningful gesture.
Words of recognition, high-fives, efforts to draw someone into a conversation, reaching out when they are feeling low, or thoughtful gifts are among the untold opportunities that we have every day to make a difference.
And, of course, actions—ranging from small gestures such as letting someone ahead of you in traffic and random favors, to big gestures such as taking care of someone when they’re ill or pulling someone up from a difficult situation—can be meaningful and memorable (if not lifesaving). expressions of kindness.
5. Kindness is confusing (in a good way!)
Kindness can alter expectations. When you choose kindness when you don’t have to, or return an insult with a soft word, you can change the energy of a situation. Knocking down someone’s guard with kindness can be a powerful tool.
We’d love to hear from you! How do you manage to remain mindful of kindness in your daily life? What kind of a difference does kindness make in your business?