November 10, 2017

World Kindness Day

Having just read this week’s issue of Insite Inbox – Warwick’s staff newsletter, I’ve been reminded that Monday 13 November is World Kindness Day. Of course, it’s easy to be sceptical about the value of the growing number of “awareness” days, and yet their existence does prompt constructive action and reflection in some quarters of our society and in my view that has to be a good thing! For me, the announcement reminded me that it was about a year ago when I wrote my blog on kindness so it seemed like a good time to revisit this theme. Looking at the web coverage of World Kindness Day, I was struck by the focus on doing good things – kindness as positive acts (giving out chocolate, flowers, helping others). And while we should never restrict such positive acts only to one day a year, it’s great to see something that encourages a proactive approach to “doing kind things”. (And for Warwick colleagues wanting to do your bit within the University - look out for Warwick Kindness cards!)

kindness_cards.jpgBut we shouldn’t forget something that I think is equally important and that is the importance of “doing things kindly” – a way of behaving that I think can help us create a better working environment. When I blogged on this previously, I was at pains to stress that whatever we have to do in our working lives – even if it is the tough, difficult and painful decisions we may have to take – we should do so in a way that respects individuals, is supportive, constructive and compassionate.

It’s certainly a mantra that I try to live up to. Do I always succeed? Sadly, I probably don’t and I suspect that’s because sometimes it just isn’t easy and sometimes I’m perhaps careless or rushed. But I like to think my intentions are always to act kindly. And of course therein lies a challenge for all of us – what determines whether something is “done kindly” – is it my intention when I do something or is it your experience of what I do? Now, maybe this is a question that our colleagues in Philosophy are best placed to answer, but it reminds me that if we really do want to try to create a kinder working environment we do have to try to understand both the intentions and experiences of others. And I think this is about trying to see the best in people and trusting that they mostly have good intentions; it’s also about being sensitive and aware that even the most well-intentioned acts can sometimes have unintended consequences for the person who experiences then.

So if there is a message that’s going to be uppermost in my mind for World Kindness Day, it’s probably going to be one that focuses on the way I do things and, my experiences of things that others do. And a big part of that message will be a reminder to myself always to try to act kindly, always to be willing to learn from the experiences and responses of others if I am unintentionally unkind and finally try to be tolerant of others if I think they are not being as kind as they intended to be.

Christine Ennew Provost sig

- 4 comments by 1 or more people

  1. Yvette

    Thank you for these reminders, Chris. In our stressful, busy lives, taking an active interest in the welfare of others, alongside kind/ carefully chosen words and acts often gets lost in doing tasks. And often these acts begin with a recognition of the humanity of everyone we meet, every day, to really ‘see’ each person we encounter. II plan to slow down, to do this more consciously.

    15 Nov 2017, 19:08

  2. Christine Ennew

    Thanks Yvette – appreciate your thoughtful comments. Its often difficult to find that time given the many pressures in our working life, but if we can do it, I think it really does make a difference!

    18 Nov 2017, 23:22

  3. Claire Wightman

    This is such a helpful and thoughtful reminder of something that we should all do by default but which sometimes gets swept away amongst the daily rush and time pressures. My four year old has just started primary school and the school theme is consideration. Nancy came home and told me that her teacher had given them all a small tube of toothpaste and asked them to squeeze it all out onto a plate. They were then asked to try to put it all back into the tube and when they said that they couldn’t, the teacher explained that it is the same when you speak to someone inconsiderately or unkindly – that angry or hurtful words might be spoken in haste and without thought, but that once the words have been said, it is impossible to take them back in. I thought it was a really good way of helping the little ones to understand the impact of acting unkindly or inconsiderately and to encourage them to stop and think before they say something that might be upsetting or hurtful to others – they have a sign on the wall in Reception class saying ‘Before you say what’s in your mind, stop and think – is it kind?’ It is so nice to see such an emphasis on kindness and consideration from such a young age and every time I see their sign it reminds me that it is applicable to everyone in any environment.

    08 Dec 2017, 10:11

  4. Christine Ennew

    Thanks Claire – I think thats a lovely way of illustrating the issue! I’ll remember that example and hope the little ones will as well!

    10 Dec 2017, 15:01

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