Next week I have been asked to be part of an interview on the subject of Kindness, so I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be kind. In my work in customer service, I use a three column chart model that has a minus column (-), a zero column (0) and a plus column (+). Below, it says “Your Choice in Any Interaction.”
It refers to the impact we have on each person we meet. We can either discount them and make them feel invisible or less important than us or our organization (-). we can simply do the work at hand (0), or we can make what I call a human level connection (+), seeing them as a unique and special person in the midst of that interaction.
These interactions do not have to be long or involved. We can focus on another person simply by asking and remembering their name, giving them a compliment, asking something personal about them, or just sincerely thanking them for being there. I tell my audiences that I want them to leave with this simple 3 column model in their heads so that connecting with people on this level becomes part of their daily life. This, to me, is what kindness is all about!
I recently realized how much a part of my life this practice has become when Jed Liuzza, one of my clients, introduced me as the opening keynote speaker for the Oklahoma University Medical Systems Leadership Symposium this fall. After my formal introduction, he shared what had impressed him most was that I LIVED what I was going to talk to them about. He said the minute he picked me up for dinner the night before, I had begun asking him questions about his family, his goals, and his interests, focusing on him as a human being.
Then, when we entered the restaurant, there was a couple with a baby, and he noticed I stopped and talked to the little one and told the parents how blessed they were. Then, he shared, I immediately asked the server her name and gave her a compliment. Finally, when I was introduced to the rest of the team, I asked during dinner to have each of them tell about someone who had greatly impacted their lives. They all told touching stories, and this allowed for a much deeper level of sharing the rest of the meal. What he said he noticed most, however, was how each person simply “came alive” when someone truly connected with them.
I was deeply touched by his words as all of these things I had done unconsciously, simply wanting to acknowledge each person as a precious human being.
One of my beliefs is that every person who comes into our lives is a gift. We have the choice to either open that gift or pass it by. Sometimes, depending on time and circumstances, we may only be able to untie the ribbon, but other times we can dig down deeper to the true gift inside. However, if we ignore that gift, it is a loss for both us AND the other person.
Being kind to me is noticing and loving all those persons with whom you interact, and that day I realized I was modeling the message I was going to be sharing without even knowing it!
Mother Teresa said, “Be kind and merciful. Let no one ever come to you without coming away better and happier.” In this new year, we all have the choice to make this our philosophy of life. I hope you will choose KINDNESS.
To learn more about Barbara’s work, go to www.barbaraglanz.com.