Growing or developing in a business context is usually about skill and performance of vocational ability. How about extending this attention to emotional or psychosocial ability like the character and practice of kindness? How might you mix a cocktail of business with a strong serving of kindness?
Here are strategies for how an individual, or an organisation, can be an example and a contagion for the Practice of Kindness.
1. Imagination and intent. Imagine a kinder workplace and set out to intentionally create it. This is a task for leaders as well as followers. It has to be believed to be seen. (Why not write a ‘kindness policy’ as an exercise in crystallising your intent? Draft document available.)
2. Cultivate a community around kindness theme. Good attitudes spread. Give the kindness ‘infection’ a host environment where it can incubate and spread. Provide place and time for people to commune in kindness.
3. Foster conversation. Find ways to introduce Kindness into the conversation. Ask questions like: What is the kind thing to say here? What is the kind response? How can I speak kindly?
4. Tell stories of kindness. Find the small everyday deeds and tell others. It’s content for the conversations and ‘infectious’ material. It fuels the imagination of others. Share these inside and outside our organisation.
5. Design for kindness. In every action consider, what is the kind thing to do? How can we make this a kinder experience? Make Kindness a fundamental design principle for products, services and processes, even messages that we write.
6. Overwhelm the negative. It can take 5 positive actions to overcome a negative action. Don’t let a negative action go unattended without overwhelming it with at least one kindness response. Make this an imperative for everybody.
7. Forgive and learn. Create conditions where it’s okay to make a mistake; and where mistakes are always an opportunity for learning. Be the type of person that forgives mistakes and helps with the learning. Such a Kind attitude can enable quicker growth and innovation.
8. Be disciplined. Be mindful and purposeful about developing the habit of practicing kindness. Discipline and regular practice creates results. Kindness is not a soft option; an attitude of kindness is sure to be tested in trying circumstances. Know what you will do or who you want to be in a crisis or conflict before it strikes.
9. Catalyse goodwill. One way to show goodwill is to be thankful, and to say Thanks. A kind word can create goodwill that immunises against future unkind acts.
10. Make connections. Partner with others outside our organisation in doing kindness and promoting kindness. Work with others worthy of our socially responsible activity. Leverage the events and campaigns of organisations like World Kindness Day (Nov 13) led by World Kindness Movement.
Your help is sought to create and mobilise useful knowledge on mixing kindness with business: Add your ideas in the comments below and share this post.
Helen Palmer is Principal Consultant at RHX Group. She thinks critically about knowledge work, and how to create conditions where knowledge is created and mobilised for business and social good. With her colleagues at RHX Group, Helen helps teams make better use of their people, knowledge and information.