We spend a lot of time helping leaders learn what to do, we don’t spend enough time helping leaders learn what to stop.” Peter Drucker
Sometimes we need to say nothing, be quiet and accept people as they are and the situation we find ourselves in, as it is… choosing to be grateful for our experiences instead of whining and complaining, being kind instead of cruel.
This conversation is about kindness… how being kind simply because we enjoy it changes everything.
So, let’s look at 4 annoying habits that hold us back… none of which are kind.
#1 Adding Too Much Value
I remember as a young bride, my husband loved to cook and would often make these amazing casseroles for dinner. I didn’t fully appreciate the magnitude of this gift. I mentioned several times a few things he could add to his creations… items to make a dish ‘better;… and he just stopped making dinner. I was an idiot, and certainly not kind.
My guess is that you, too, have learned from the school of… Yikes! I should have kept my mouth shut!
It can happen at work… what if someone comes to you with a great idea… it really shines. Do you say, “That’s a great idea! Thank you!”… or do you need to ‘make it better’… “I love your idea BUT add this to it.”
When you add value to a great idea, it may be a little bit better, but it won’t be executed with the same passion and enthusiasm… you’ve just hijacked it… and shifted the focus from how smart they are to how smart you are.
Praising and supporting a great idea is kind… and adding value… not so much.
#2 Winning Too Much
What about winning… e.g. I know best!
What if you and a colleague make plans for lunch. He wants to go to Max’s Steak House and you want Brasserie Ten Ten. You go to the steak house.
The steak is not tasty, and the service is slow. What do you do?
Do you complain and say, “I told you so!”
Do you say nothing, but repeatedly check your cell phone and scowl at your food… you get the idea… you might as well be wearing a neon sign saying, “You should have listened to me!”
Do you (… could you bring yourself to) say nothing and simply enjoy your colleague’s company, making the best possible use of your time together?
You gain nothing by being right. Yep… I’ve learned that one that hard way too!
#3 Too Competitive
Are you too competitive?
You’ve had a miserable day at work, but as soon as you walk in the door your husband starts telling you about his stressful, upsetting day… what do you do?
Do you say… “YOU’VE had a hard day… that’s nothing compared to what happened to ME”… then tell him everything that’s gone wrong for you?
Do you say nothing… absolutely nothing (… challenging??) and just let him vent, give him some TLC and attention, really listen and just be there?
How many times have you shared bad news with a friend only to have them share bad news with you?
I don’t know about you… but when I’ve been slammed with something… I just need someone to listen… really listen… not try to fix me… not try to fix the situation… just listen.
For me, that’s kindness in action.
#4 Passing Judgment
I will raise my hand and admit… I can be stubborn and opinionated… e.g. judgmental.
Here’s the kind alternative… help more and judge less.
How? By eliminating three (3) words from your vocabulary… NO, BUT and HOWEVER.
Saying ‘No’ at the beginning of sentence means ‘you are wrong’.
No, there’s too much about this situation to consider.
‘But’ and ‘however’ mean to disregard everything that came before this word.
I really love your idea, but we’re dealing with a crisis right now.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, however I’ve got to take care of the Barkley matter.
It’s not as easy to stop saying NO, BUT and HOWEVER as you may think.
One of my friends had to appoint ‘word police’ to keep her honest… friends, family and co-workers.
Every time she said no, but or however… every time… she put $20 in an envelope. Saying no, no, no… was an expensive moment!
She donated the money to charity at the end of each week… a nice touch.
And, she did improve… fairly rapidly… It was really interesting to watch her progress.
It’s so easy for words like no, but and however to become background noise… you don’t really hear yourself… they don’t consciously register.
Wrapping it up
It takes time to replace old habits with new ones. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge your progress along the way.
And here’s one caveat… there are no hard and fast rules… use your discernment in the moment. The idea here was to get you thinking… it’s up to you to decide what’s kind in any given moment.