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What do you think? Is kindness disappearing in our society? In our workplaces?
Are you surrounded by kindness in your workplace, within your family, among your friends…or are you encountering more times of rudeness, snarking, meanness, bullying? How do you model “kindness” when others are unkind to you?
Kindness is defined as a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition and genuine concern for others. It is known as a virtue, and recognized as a value in many cultures, societies and religions. It is part of the nature of civility. It is also defined as being “helpful towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped.” We all can relate to have been in receipt of and giving of random acts of kindness.
In my work, I have seen workplaces that are ridden with strife—people behaving badly to each other—unprofessional. And, workplaces wherein fierce
competitiveness resides, which results in further undermining of relationships and stressful environments—workplaces where leaders don’t know what to do to create a kinder, and in turn, more productive workplace; where Leaders are inept at holding bad-behavior-perpetrators in check.
Some people say that the days of Mr. Rogers are gone. I don’t believe that. I know that the leader of any team, group, organization, business has a huge role in modeling and expecting/communicating/enforcing the behaviors he/she wants to have integrated in the workplace; I know that incentives can be designed to support team qualities, including professional courtesy and kindness. I know that rudeness can be countered; that unprofessional behaviors can be made transparent and stopped—if you want them to be! Bad behavior doesn’t have to continue…it can be called out for what it is—bad behavior.
How great to learn that “kindness” is being reintroduced into our schools! Why is empathy and kindness being taught? To counteract the effects of what behaviors like meanness, exclusion, or bullying can have on others. If it can be taught to kids, it can be re-taught to adults---even in the workplace! Today, judging others, practicing meanness, undermining, seems to be an activity practiced by too many people. It’s all too easy to sit at a computer or phone and post comments about other people. The ease and speed, not to mention the anonymity, with which people can pass judgments on others is unprecedented. Thankfully, there is an antidote for that too….not taking anything anyone says personally…because it is telltale about them and their insecurities—its not about you! Children are being taught to recognize meanness for what it is…and to rise above it; accordingly, to lift up all the good that exists in them and about them and to shine with their gifts! Learning and modeling what “kindness” really is, thankfully, is being underscored…because people matter. And when we get our heads around the fact that all people matter….then kindness really does count!
Claire Knowles is a 2-time Amazon best-selling author, in-demand Speaker and Business Leadership Consultant, helping Leaders (especially women leaders) and their Teams become the most effective they can be at accomplishing their goals (together). www.ClaireEKnowles.com
What Message Are You Sending?
One thing that has always intrigued me, was the study Non-Verbal Communication.Very simply put, that is the process of communicating with others, while not using words. Falling into that category, are two of my favorites: facial expressions & body language. Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly sending "some message" to those around us. The only question is, what message are we sending? And...,is it the right one? The other night, as my sisters and I made our way through the elbow to elbow traffic, at the concert, I couldn't help but notice something. Although we were walking quickly, I had the advantage of walking behind my youngest, therefore being privy to the manner in which she communicated, as she forged her way ahead. What I observed, was that when my sister walked past a good looking guy, she had her body facing him (body language = a form of non verbal communication). At the very same time, when she was looking at someone who was real easy on the eyes, she would have a beautiful smile on her face, making eye contact with him, even nodding at times. (Facial expressions, gestures= two more forms of non-verbal communication.) However, the moment my sis crossed paths with a person, she may have viewed as repugnant, or less than pleasing to say the least, her body instantly spun around. This left the person in question facing her back, and quite possibly finding her curly locks bouncing into his face.
Not only did I find all of this utterly amusing, to view first hand as a spectator, but it led me to think past those moments. I wondered if what my sister was doing, was an intrinsic action. I say this because it is true that most people in general, tend to gravitate toward other people or things that are attractive, or appealing to the eye. Think about it, it doesn't necessarily have to be in reference to "eye-candy", step with me if you will into the Art arena. Let's say we were taking a walk past an undeniably breathtaking work of Art, vs. an old rusted, and abandoned train. I think it safe to say that although some of us might look at the locomotive, most of us are going to be drawn to the Art.
Equally said, we are naturally more inclined to stay away from, anything that we find negative, or different than what we're used to. I believe these behaviors are ones that we are all born with. Think about children in their very early stages of development. As parents, of preschoolers we'll find ourselves saying, "Ahhh...honey, how rude! We don't say things like that. Please say you are sorry to the nice woman." That may be the scenario, after our child says out loud in the grocery store, "ill Mommy, look at that wrinkly old lady!" Now that I've had a little fun with the topic, establishing that I thoroughly believe it's an intrinsic behavior, to gravitate toward, smile at, & make eye contact with those people &/or things which appeal to us; I'm going to delve in a little deeper. Though I believe these forms of non-verbal communication to be ones which we are born with, and do instinctively, I also believe that as we get older, and mature, they are ones we learn to control, "if" we want to. This is not to say that it won't be without challenge. But, let's say you are a married woman going for a run at the Falls with your husband. While there, you pass a really good looking guy. Because you are alive, and human, you immediately take notice of his hotness, yet due to your maturity, & out of respect for your spouse you do not stare, turn your head, whistle, or allow your eyes to fall from your head. Another extremely important example would be for young teens who are dating, and working their first job.This may apply to you, or somebody you know. You are working your first job, and you get into a huge fight with your girlfriend the night before, she says, "We're done!" . You haven't heard a thing from your girl since, and she's not responding to your texts or calls. Now, it's 8:00AM, and you are due in at work by 8:15.They have a FIRM "Leave your problems at home!" Policy. Consequently, if you wish to keep your job. You have NO CHOICE, but to enter the building, and TAKE CONTROL of your facial expressions. In other words, putting a big smile on your face, looking at all people when they're talking to you, regardless of how they look, or how old they are. Again, this is a very important life lesson, & value that comes with, and gets honed with maturity.
In conclusion, there are so many ways to communicate. Using words, is just one amongst several. Some of us are sending messages to perspective employers, before they even sit down for the interview, by how they're dressed, & their lack of eye contact. So, the next time you are preparing for an interview, during a fight with your significant other, walking through Artpark on a warm summer's night, or taking your dog for a run for that matter; ask yourself, "What (non-verbal) message do I want to send out?" Keep in mind, that none, of us will have 100% control of the situation all the time. There's always a chance that something we didn't expect, or plan for may happen. In any event, DON'T WASTE TIME SWEATING THINGS BEYOND YOUR CONTROL! Control only that for which you have control over. Then, fully enjoy the here and now. Engage yourself fully with those around you, trying all of the other forms of non-verbal communication, without talking. I think we have learned to rely on talking too much in our society. Between that and our electronic devices, we sometimes forget about the other forms. I leave you with this: Take 2 minutes out of your day, and try this fun exercise preferably with your loved one, but a friend or child will do also. This is a warming up exercise from one of my courses in college theatre. You write down a topic, command, or brief message of which you want to convey on a tiny piece of paper. Then, fold it up. You, proceed to take turns acting out what is on the paper. You'll find it fun, and a tad more difficult than it seems. Yet, one thing is for certain, you'll both be more aware of your use of non- verbal communication, and the messages you're sending out.
From Now On
They say that the older you get the more childhood memories you have. You would think it would be just the opposite but as in the yin and yang of things; opposites are a good thing too.
Gradually as you get older you will begin to understand how important those past memories are. As you move toward your golden years, begin to embrace it; it should be a gradual and kind slowing down that feels good to you. You breathe in slowly without the stressful days you used to have, and you breathe out the wonders of everything you see from now on because it may be the last visit to your Aunt Millie’s.
Things seem to come up in life; preventing you from doing everything you want or need to do, and that is alright because someone else will pick up your puzzle pieces and dollies after you are gone to put it together for you.
My Favorite Memories
I treasured my dollies as a child; they were my little family
It brings wonderful memories in my mind when I think of my favorite Tiny Tears Doll. She was very popular in my time and she did produce wonderful streaming tears when you fed her. I still feel warm and fuzzy inside thinking about holding her in my lap, and this doll prepared me for the real things in life; holding my own children, feeding and hugging them in their infancy.
What a good way to prepare for the upcoming event of parenthood. Too bad they do not allow boys to play with those pretty dollies, and invented warrior dolls and transformers for them when they really need to hold and cuddle a dollie as they ready themselves for fatherhood.
And the Tears
I have been told that I have a very strong emotional component that sets off my tear ducks quite often, and maybe it is because of my younger years, being able to express myself often through my doll. Tears are a way to clear out all of your bad stuff from your body, washing it clear and clean. Tears are so very helpful in many aspects of your life; do not be afraid to express yourself with tears.
So what prepares us for death?
All the treasured moments in life prepare us for passing into spirit. And it seems that the closer you get to being with spirit, the more you realize that you are already there. Your spirit begins to tell you deep inside how important it is to gather yourself together and prepare for your awakening. It may be just a slight awareness right now for you, but as you age, you will find your way, and see that living life has a beginning, middle and end to it just as everything in the world does.