Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Kindness Is for Life Not Just For Christmas - Day 31 (New Year's Eve)

Day 31 (New Year's Eve)
31 (trente-et-un) is a French phrase ("se mettre sur son trente-et-un") 
meaning to put on your glad rags or get really dressed up - 
which I am sure many of you will be doing this evening 
to celebrate and see in the New Year.

Photo: Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, dressed to the nines in Top Hat, 1935
The last post of 2014 is by a person well-known to many, Perry Timms. Perry exudes energy and enthusiasm and is an often outspoken voice on social media and at conferences and events. He left mainstream HR in summer 2012 and founded People and Tranformational HR Ltd, he is also a Visiting Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University. Living (and having grown up in) Northampton, it is perhaps no surprise that he is Vice Chair of the Northants CIPD branch and a Northampton Town football fan. Like many, he is passionate about music and is a self-confessed Soulboy. You can follow him on Twitter (his handle is @PerryTimms) or read his blog (Adjusted Development). He is eager to connect and together we can change the world..."one conversation at a time".


I guess I am known for blogs of a positively framed nature.  I guess my outlook on life is that - positive.  Optimistic (to the power of infinity).

I see the opportunity in change.  The learning from a total mess-up.  The challenge in adversity.
Great Learning is often messy
I know that I’m not like everyone - if we were all the same it would be a bit like we’re already robots with no soul or spirit.  So I get that others don’t look at the world like I do.

Yet surely we can all agree that kindness is one thing we can all sign up to?

Seems not.  It seems there are not just some, but PLENTY, of people who seem to take pride, enjoyment and even revel - in being the opposite.  Unkind. Vindictive.  Nasty.  Hurtful.

We know this about pain.  The brain barely - if at all - distinguishes the feeling of social pain from actual physical pain.

We burn our finger on a hot metal implement.  We get called out for being a worthless individual.  Same kind of pain registered.  Some “damage” inflicted that our pain receptors fire up. 

Except of course, the physical pain and damage will heal but maybe with a scar, and can be treated with ointment and bandages. 

The mental pain eats away at us and - as we recently heard from Adam Grant at CIPD’s annual conference with his Give and Take theory - change how we are. 

Being unkind can cause permanent harm
photo credit - peepo
A lot of people are givers - we help others and be kind until we get (metaphorically this time) burned and we adjust to become matchers or go the opposite way and become takers.

Back to kindness then.  If we’re all so kind that would resolve a lot of the world’s problems wouldn’t it? Well, maybe so, however being kind backfires.
  • Lend someone some money because they’re desperate.  Never hear from them again, despite never asking for the money back.
  • Give time, effort, support and emotional encouragement.  Get utterly shafted, ignored, laughed at, considered weak and pushed aside.
  • Help people feel good about themselves and give them some esteem and hope.  Get accused of interfering, being too involved, taking too much interest in someone.
Rose shattered (after freezing in liquid nitrogen)
So this kindness thing isn’t as easy as it should be is it?  Doesn’t mean you have to be neutral, be some chameleon-like matcher - reflecting whatever the mood/culture is around you OR be one of those unkind sorts who crush kindness.
Chameleon about to crush a wasp
It’s tough to be kind all the time.  Yet our compassion for our fellow human beings is surely what sets us apart from the violence of the animal world we’re so closely still related to?

So this New Year before you cast aspersions on people; reject an offer to help; take offence at someone and go all out to “get them” just think about the last time someone was kind to you and how it made you feel. 

And then instead of being cruel, be kind - even a tiny bit.  Be a little more gentle instead of totally forceful.  Be a little compassionate instead of wildly inconsiderate.

Showing affection to an orphaned elephant
A small, but beautiful word.  Powerful yet fragile.  Kindness.

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. Particularly important post in a country where we are being encouraged to become more insular and "sod you jack". Mind you, you are right about lending punk rockers your life savings and never seeing it returned ...