Kindness is a value that many of us still believe in. It is the language of respect and consideration, it is the cushion that absorbs the hits we take in life, and the gift we offer by means of looks, words, and small acts day after day. Being kind does not cost anything, but it achieves so much.
Lao Tse used to say in his writings that kind words create confidence, noble thoughts originate kindness, and acts marked with respect create an indestructible bond. However, in many of our surroundings, we do not see this value as ingrained as we would like.
“Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.”
Experts in leadership and organizational psychology, for example, well know that kindness or altruism are not concepts that harmonize very well with the qualities needed to guarantee a company flourishes in the market. Competitiveness, power, influence, and innovation are above camaraderie, and acknowledging the other person is of little use as it will only make one lose status, time, and efficiency.
On the other hand, and according to Felix Losada, a director of Marketing and Public Relations, and author of the book, “Intelligent Protocol,” explains that being less kind is actually due to a concrete fact. Social courtesy evolves, and in our case, it has done so based on a context marked by haste, stress, and consumerism. Where a person is more centered on their own egotistical universe than on looking upon other planets nearby.
If we want to once again fly the flag of kindness, we should start by initiating certain changes within ourselves.
Are we Living in an era of Unkindness?
At present, there is no lack of those who believe that being kind is a waste of time and runs the risk of being viewed as weak, or even worse, as avaricious. For example, in the work place environment, the coworker who is always attentive, kind, and accessible is viewed with distrust. Because, more than likely, he is a climber looking to ascend to a higher position and gain a stronghold in the company.
Kindness, in turn, is not a useful quality at the management level. As much as they try to sell us on the fact that today’s managers have emotional intelligence and fine-tuned dynamics in their group, the only thing they really want is for their employees to reach their goals, and that the company be competitive in the ever changing and oppressive market.
We live in a culture of “I do enough for what I am paid.” In this world characterized by “Me,” and “Now,” we barely have time to look someone in the eye, to say “Good morning, how are things going?” or to ask, “Do you need anything?” It is no longer possible to sit face to face. Beyond the schedules is the pressure to cultivate better relations, and create a better climate of understanding and collaboration where we all come out winners.
In this era of antipathy and immediacy, kindness is translated into a waste of time, in 8% less productivity for a company or in running the risk of losing something important in our social circle if we turn off our cell phone while we are with a friend or partner.
Is it really worth it?
Even in Times of Crisis, there is Hope in Kindness
Kindness is a gift that is worth sharing even if it is not recognized, even if we do not receive any gratitude in return. Somehow, even if it seems contradictory, we are investing in ourselves, in feeling better, and developing empathetic closeness that promotes personal and emotional growth.
On the other hand, although many philosophers may tell us that the concept of social kindness is expiring, there is still hope. We are very much aware that this modern world encourages us to be individualists and competitive, and that stress and nervousness will, once in a while, allow the worst of us to come out. Now then, is this really what we want to become? Into people who are unable to fight for a kinder existence?
Think about the future generations and the inhospitable legacy we are at risk of leaving to our children if we do not start to make changes. We should become more aware and become activists of this change in attitude and focus. We cannot forget that when a baby enters the world, he/she is programmed to connect with others. In fact, until the age of 7 or 8 a child is altruistic and collaborative by nature. After this stage, they begin to focus more on themselves and develop behaviors based on competitiveness.
If we invest time in them and train them on the value of kindness since their early stages, we will be planting seeds for a more noble and empathetic future. Start them with body language and verbal courtesy, while we, at the same time, rehabilitate ourselves to show kindness daily.
Let’s take back the keys to civility, lift our faces from our cell phone screens so that we can look at each other, that is where we will find true notifications, those that come from the heart and soul. Let’s start today by frowning less, put the brakes on our hurry, and enjoy the world in small bites while we gift smiles, and dedicate more time to people we love.
Because being kind is free, and while some may not believe it, it feels really good.