10 Kindness Imperatives for a New Era

Note: I wrote far too long of an introduction to this, and then moved it to its own post. Read the introduction here.

  1. Do what you can when you can. Every kind act towards another being makes the world a better place.
  2. Treat all life with caring respect. All living beings merit kindness and compassion.
  3. Set your intentions for kind actions each day. Kindness should be as much of a factor in your to-do list as importance and priority.
  4. Spend time each day wishing the best to people you pass. By adapting this time-tested meditative practice, called metta in Buddhism, you increase the well-being around you.
  5. Bring joy to each encounter. If you see a friend unexpectedly, or see a baby, or an animal, you likely feel a jolt of spontaneous joy, and you can channel the essence of that joy every time you interact with others.
  6. Ascribe only the best intentions to others. Even when you are in conflict with someone else, you can defuse “me or you” oppositions by not treating the other party as the bad guy.
  7. Dare to be inspired. It takes an attitude of open kindness to see models for the good in what you see, hear, and read.
  8. Value yourself. You need self-compassion, focus, and energy to be an effective kindness practitioner in the world.
  9. Give. Really, right now, find a cause you care about, and give them even a small donation. Do it.
  10. Never forget that you are the steward of your own world. The duty of your stewardship is kindness.

Rethinking, Restarting

When I started Kindness Communication back in March 2015, I wanted to promote kindness to achieve better results and greater focus in companies and organizations. I loosely imagined it would act as a spawning ground for a kindness-based professional services offering, a mix of training, coaching, and resources that would help people and organizations implement kindness as a core, lived value.

In the eighteen plus months that followed, I’ve learned many things, but most important, I’ve learned that a movement won’t start itself, and that an ill-conceived goal quickly becomes its own obstacle. I might have been able to state those lessons as a truism well before my experiences with Kindness Communication, but now my awareness of them is sharpened. I believe the business goal I envisioned has actually prevented me from writing and thinking about kindness to full potential.

Moreover, the world looks a lot different in December 2016 than it did in March 2015. When measured against values of kindness and pluralism and tolerance, it looks a lot darker. The need for kindness advocacy has only grown since I started, but the luxury of waiting to get traction is no more.

In short, I don’t think I have time to wait for business inspiration to come as a way to amplify my voice. It is urgent to promote kindness in all domains by all means available, and to make it accessible to all by keeping it as simple as possible. I want to meet that urgency by writing differently, and more often. In order to do that, I have to put aside the business goal for now.

I also have to put aside the thought patterns I have absorbed as a career-long consultant who focuses on rigorous, fact-based work. I have to take risks and make bold assertions, even with little backup, and let my claims about kindness sit on the power of principle rather than of proof.

So, take all of the above as a long preface for my long-term readers to explain a change of tone and approach, letting you all know why things will be different from here on out, And with that, many thanks to those of you who have been following Kindness Communication to date.

Read 10 Kindness Imperatives for a New Era
to see where this new approach is leading.

A 10-point Guide For Self-kindness

Self-kindness, or self-compassion, is one of the seven dimensions of kindness.

  1. Self-kindness unlocks our ability to be better and do better.
  2. Being kind to ourselves should not be equated to being self-indulgent, any more than being kind to others should be equated to being weak.
  3. It is more productive to acknowledge and accept our difficulties and imperfections than to deny and fight them.
  4. We make better progress overcoming the obstacles that challenge us when we forgive ourselves for our own mistakes or for our circumstances.
  5. Letting ourselves off the hook defuses the anticipation of fear, worry, and regret that holds us back from taking action.
  6. We break the cycle of harmful, futile, judgmental thinking by dwelling mindfully in our own humanity, a humanity we share with others.
  7. By holding ourselves to realistic and humane standards, we open ourselves to greater kindness in the world around us.
  8. We can honor ourselves as people whose actions can improve individual lives and the world around us.
  9. Strength and patience that start from within have greater impact than superficial empathy.
  10. Current psychology research shows greater linkages of self-compassion to positive mental health outcomes than those from self-esteem.

A 10-point Guide For One-on-One Kindness

One-on-one kindness is one of the seven dimensions of kindness.

  1. One-on-one interactions drive business results: you and a teammate, you and a manager, you and a customer, you and a stakeholder.
  2. You can set the tone.
  3. Assuming another person’s best intentions usually gets you the best results.
  4. Conduct yourself gratefully and gracefully.
  5. Everyone has their own circumstances, and everyone has a hard day sometimes.
  6. When in doubt, pause.
  7. Frame unmet expectations in terms of shared results instead of personal disappointment.
  8. Be happy every time you see people, because you are going to get something accomplished together.
  9. When you have to, apologize and forgive, and mean it.
  10. Over time, small kindnesses build a solid foundation of trust that outlives individual interactions.

Managing scarcity: Time, Knowledge, Money, Attention, and Kindness

I found this recent overview of the theory of scarcity quite insightful. Time, knowledge, and money are all limited quantities, whose limitations must be managed.

And I would add two more scarcities:

Attention. The way to manage limited attention is to master the art of prioritization (as in time management), while training yourself to add a layer of focus to it. There’s a reason why mindfulness has become such a cliche in our always-on world of digital distraction.

Kindness. Intentional compassion is a kind of muscle that people must exercise. Build strength by managing reactivity, pausing, and being intentional about how what you do not only achieves your ends but affects others (directly in your path, and more systemically).