I cannot recall who said it, but it was an extremely profound quote which read, “Hire a kind person and you shall not regret it”. (Human resources division, please note and advise your senior management on the need of such attitude). I read the quote at least twice and attempted to form some opinion on the validity of the thought. Having spent two score years in the corporate sector, I could plainly see how significant and critical it is to garner certain traits as a leader, nay as a person too, to be in a position to propel people to perform at their best. Kindness is one such trait that must be had by any who wish to move mountains.
Eric Huffer, says, in “The Passionate Mind”, “Kindness can become its own motive. We are kind by being kind”. The trait of kindness must not be confused with either sympathy or empathy. The dictionary meaning of sympathy is ‘feeling of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune’; Empathy means, ‘the ability to understand and share the feeling of another’; while kindness is an attitude and means, ‘the quality of being friendly, generous or considerate’. Sympathy and empathy can be transitory habits, used one day in a given situation and not deployed when not moved; against this kindness which is a quality that is intrinsic and inherent and those who are blessed to have it, are extremely fortunate.
The true sense of kindness emerges when it is involuntary and is always with spontaneity. Kindness achieves more than harshness can ever do. Leaders and managers must give due cognizance towards the fact that insensitivity towards followers and colleagues deprives them of what they could potentially initiate and see as a great effort, performance or even a sound counsel and advice. By reacting harshly, managers actually encourage their reports to avoid giving them feedback.
The fear of negative reaction will prevent colleagues from speaking truthfully and honestly to their supervisors. It is mostly unkind and cruel responses of the manager that significantly contributes towards creation of an environment of fear within an entity. Gentleness and kindness can harness and guide wild elephants — if beasts respond to kindness, then know, that a human heart does so with greater intensity and emotion.
The key element here for managers is that kindness has to be extended without being asked for; a motive driven action would never glow a heart, but it is the involuntary responses that matter the most. Being kind is no favour done to the recipient. Kindness causes no aches or heart burns, attention must be given, to remain extremely careful that you don't dig deeper into the wounds, and end up making a new one; worse than the previous.
Cervantes wrote, ‘fair and softly goes far’. Kind people are made of wholly dove qualities and genuinely lack in their constitution of thought any grain of the Serpent.
No manager must forget that there is no reward or benefit of enduring nature in being rude to colleagues. Colleagues and co-workers suffer anxieties for a variety of reasons: Some fear treading into the cabin of the supervisor and some are petrified by the presence of people around them, there are also those who fear and are stressed by both possibilities.
Kindness infuses within the work environment certain nobility that allows individuals to have inner peace whilst they take upon themselves the anxieties relating to business generation.
Managers have to train themselves to find kindness in toughness. Kindness begets kindness. A Russian proverb is, a word of kindness is better than a fat pie. In difficult situations, it is best to use kindness. Unkind and revengeful remarks, normally kill the possessor, while it also destroys the self esteem of the recipient. Generosity is the outcome of just behaviour.
‘Kindness affects more than severity’ (Aesop fables- The wind and the Sun). There are in every organisation people who demonstrate in their personality the possession of nasty thoughts, which is followed resultantly with uncouth behaviour. They carry rudeness on their arms and are usually foul mouthed too. Their knowledge and use of taunting remarks; their below the belt remarks all contribute towards dampening the spirit and enthusiasm of co-workers.
Colleagues do not seek pity or sympathy, but only understanding. For any lack of it, you as managers in reaction to a circumstance that is not in alignment to your expectations may like to crucify the colleague (victim) responsible for it. While possession of the spirit of understanding may prevent agitative provocation. An ‘understanding’ manager will be able to recognise the manifestation of numerous predicaments of colleagues and enable dealing with it with simplicity of approach.
Charisma of kindness is positively lethal. Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck and the most recent stars like Tom Cruise and George Clooney are actors we all wish to resemble - not merely because of their star status on the screen and their good looks; also because of their “off screen” image, these men have disposition of kindness writ large on their persona- their faces reflect the inner goodness. Isn't Audrey Hepburn's look an epitome of kindness with grandeur? Isn't mother Teresa's picture reflective of bursting kindness? Our inner feelings find their way, to reflect upon our faces - this mechanism is Divine; no man can wear a mask of deception forever — neither can a manager and leader.
Hence to have handsome / beautiful physical looks, get the heart cleansed of the negativity of being unkind and ruthless in behaviour. Trust this scribe, it works...and with wonders.
Managers who have kindness residing in them do not let their personal setbacks become weapons of mass retaliation towards, all and sundry. Such kindness is truly a noble trait.
The writer is a senior banker and freelance columnist