Now, this is an interesting concept to me because I ask people in interviews and general conversation, ‘why are they sometimes not kind?’. Funnily enough and probably quite unsurprising I end up in discussions about kindness quite a lot and these are the reasons that seem to be at the heart of unkindness.
When people are stressed they are mostly in a fight or flight mode. Their brain has kicked into an automatic response that is controlled simply by a bodily function that is as old as humankind. Now, neither of these modes are generally conducive to kindness. We would like to believe that we always have the ability to be kind in every situation, we are judged on it in life. However, in those moments of stress, our brain is wired to protect self in the most part first which can often mean not protecting someone else.
For those wondering why some are kind even when stressed, well this is simply in the heightened Emotional Intelligence of the person. The ability to share with people what is going on behind the scenes, to share that they are feeling under pressure and what they are doing to remedy it, knowing themselves and when to step away or do things to self soothe.
The list and complexities go on into how we can improve our reactions but for now, if you work on your Emotional Intelligence you have the potential to combat your reactions and in turn, maybe others around you.
I'll owe them something
Those that know my work, will know I talk often about the idea that when we don’t accept an act of kindness, (that could be someone willing to listen to us, to lending a hand moving house), either way, someone has stepped forward to offer time which is the most priceless asset we hold. When we don’t accept we stop so many things, the ripples that kindness causes, it goes on to another person and another but not if we stop accepting. Then there is the feel-good factor for that person, it releases good hormones and is equivalent of a hug.
I can remember this reason, ‘I’ll owe them something’, coming out quite by accident from someone I was interviewing as they loosely chatted on why they would not accept kindness from someone. It was the first time I had heard it, it has never been something I had felt personally.
It is a lesser-known reason as to why kindness doesn’t flourish but it’s the unsaid one which makes it important to highlight. We must never give to receive, it makes the action pointless.
Sign of weakness
In any organisation, I work with I always tackle the elephant in the room first.
“Kindness is weakness”,
“it’s a fluffy concept and we are a serious company getting work done.”
“We don’t want our clients thinking we are weak.”
However, I have learnt, and there is a previous blog about this topic that kindness is far from weakness.
It requires a great deal of strength, it means being honest and owning issues, having a very high Emotional Intelligence. We have learnt that in many parts of our society we are missing this within our leaders.
Kindness is maybe the hardest but certainly the most rewarding leadership style.
Carrying the past
Everyone has a story.
Those stories manifest into the present day into limiting beliefs, physical reactions or emotional responses.
The stories of someone’s youth, of a past workplace or simply yesterday. We are affected by the things that go on the past and they tend to influence our future. Kindness is taught and some people are simply not taught how to have the values of kindness.
Accept that every person is different and then we can understand the world.
This is one that has not directly been identified but sits as the underlying cause of the research.
Kindness can involve asking questions that are personal to get to the heart of an upset. It can mean being honest and feeling like that might hurt someone but the lie is much worse. It can mean standing in the shoes of someone else and having to own that their life is incredibly difficult. To be vulnerable. To have tough conversations.
Fear is something that is not discussed a great deal but is, in fact, the blocker of most progress for every individual in life, particularly when it comes to if you have the ability to be truly kind.