In places where multiple cultures are prevalent, or if it’s a frequent vacation destination, it is not unusual to see signs that say si parla Italiano, se habla Espanol, or even English spoken here. It is a welcome sign when you are in a place that does not speak your language. You know this is a place where you will be understood.
This had me thinking. What if in every household, workplace and commercial location, there was a sign posted, Kindness Spoken Here. Here, we watch, listen, care and respond with kindness, concern and respect.
Imagine how things would be different.
I travel during many weeks every year, so many weeks that Southwest Airlines and Marriott really like me. But it’s not the reward points that I review at the end of each trip, it’s the behaviors of those around me. In all of my trips speaking to groups, organizations, parents and CEOs, I routinely have the opportunity to witness how we interact and communicate with each other. Most of us are moving through life on a mission – head down and pushing ahead or looking at a phone walking in a way that would not pass a sobriety test. We are unaware of others, bumping into them, racing to beat them to a line, ensuring that we get what we want before assessing or responding to what they want. Rarely do we watch for the places to help others, let alone even acknowledge them. If one of the most important things we can do in life is to notice, encourage and support the greatness in others, it can’t happen if we aren’t aware of and committed to kindness in our interactions. Kindness is the key to the door to connection and relationship.
How do you develop the Kindness Spoken Here mindset? Here are three ideas.
- Don’t be cheap with a smile. This is the best and most inexpensive value builder on the planet. When you smile, you positively affect the moods of others. It is called emotional contagion. When you smile, you subconsciously invite others to join you in a positive and supportive emotion. As you smile and receive one back, you are also benefited from your action. And another benefit: it has the power to relax or undo a negative emotion in someone else.
- Don’t be cheap with a greeting or kind word. After a simple smile, offer a kind word. Express interest in them by asking how they are, how their day is, or, my favorite, what is the best thing that has happened to you today? Silent smiles are good, but smiles accompanied by a kind greeting are better. Connecting through actions and words improves the quality of connection with others, whether friends or strangers.
- Don’t be cheap with a simple act of kindness. Hold the door for someone. Let someone in ahead of you in traffic. Help someone with a bag, box or suitcase. Chat with them while waiting in whatever line you find yourself in. Express an interest in the lives of others and you will notice how similar we all are: looking to do our best in world that moves fast and can be impersonal.
With a focus on kindness, it’s more likely that you will see the greatness surface in others. As they respond, you are changed for good.
Post Kindness Spoken Here at your home, office, car or school. Use the sign as a reminder to always watch and focus on how you speak, connect and interact with others. Lead with kindness.
This week, make a commitment to smile more, use kind and supportive words (instead of critical words), and do things to help others. It will be appreciated and will be paid forward. Great things always start small and catch on because they are great. Kindness can start small and grow into a family, company, school, town or even country that leaves others and ourselves better.
Speak the language of kindness and you will change yourself and your world.
By Jay Forte
Consider reading How Your Memories of Childhood Can Improve Your Future