As a global citizen, I’m often asked to speak on cross cultural training or the importance of diversity in the workplace. These presentations always include ways to pick up on body language and tone, even if you aren’t certain of the language or customs.
Today I’d like to talk about a universal language: Kindness.
I’m not certain that we will ever be able to pinpoint when the lack of civility and then outright cruelty started to become commonplace, but most of us can agree that today it is at an incredibly high level. In my book Netiquette, I talk about how social media has allowed people to make comments or threats about others that they would never speak were the communication face to face. It’s almost as though we’ve forgotten that at the other end of the spectrum sits another human being with emotions as well.
Understanding other cultures and accepting opinions that are not the same as your own takes an open mind and demonstrates that you’re an enlightened individual. Spewing hatred or vile comments to another demonstrates that you’re small-minded and unable to think of anything but yourself and what you want. The world would be a very sad and small place if only the viewpoints and ideas that you agreed upon existed.
Kindness is often more difficult to express than snarky comments or putdowns. It means that you are considering the other individual enough to be driven to act with compassion, even if you don’t understand their ideas or situations first-hand. When you act with kindness, you’ll also find that it makes you feel better as well. Doing for others has always been a favorite pick me up when I’m feeling blue.
“Remember, there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Scott Adams
It doesn’t have to be a great act to be a life changing act. You really have no idea what a simple measure can do for someone else. Holding a door open, paying the toll for the person behind you, paying the tab for someone dining alone, slipping a note in the bag of a parent struggling with an unhappy baby that says, “You’re doing a great job-hang in there-the best moms and dads also had awful days,” these are easy ways to offer hope.
One of my favorite inspiring clips on kindness and considering others is this one by David Foster Wallace called “This Is Water.” It’s still my go-to inspirational viewing when I’m feeling frustrated or down. I hope you’ll take the time to watch it-I think it’ll change your outlook, too.