I'm not always a very kind person. Not because I'm not good or generous, or because I don't care about others, but because my natural style is pretty focused and blunt. I'm easily frustrated by niceties or disingenuous patter, because I want to cut through and get to the real stuff. As pointed out in this week's WOYM: I'm a bit of a rhino.
For people who know me well, this is generally fine. They don't expect much introductory chat to a text message, phone call or conversation, and they know that when I say something, it comes from a good place.
For people who don't know me so well, this is not always so fine. In managing teams and nurturing new friendships, I have to try a bit harder - and I don't always get it right. It's interesting, because it's not that I don't know how. I'm a career facilitator, and I specialise in understanding a group's needs and fears!
In Meetings that Matter, we talk about meeting people where they're at, from where you are. We learn how to understand what sits below a surface behaviour (disengagement, belligerence or lack of commitment) to find the true driver (lack of trust, fear of loss or unclear focus) and tailor our workshops and change processes to suit that.
I think the same might be true in our personal relationships - what do people need to feel good? Some might be like me, and appreciate getting straight to the point. Others might need conversational foreplay, or a different delivery style. Being kind looks different depending on who's on the receiving end.
My clients and students definitely get the best of me in that regard. I find it fairly easy to tune in and take them on a journey that will suit them. But in interpersonal relationships, I can forget to have the same level of intention. If you struggle with that too, I think I might have an idea why...
You can't be kind to others, if you're not kind to yourself.
How can you be forgiving of others, when you're busy pushing and punishing yourself? How can you nurture connection and softness, when you're running on an internal diet of striving and firmness? How can you create space for people to be themselves, when you won't take any for you?
The answer is: you probably can't.
In the current phase of my life, I'm focused on growing the the team at Alicia McKay and prioritising connection with the people I love - both of which require a much larger dose of kindness.
To remind me to do that, I'm currently doing these things:
Re-reading my messages, texts and emails before I send them
Checking in with my team and partner to see how they're going and how I'm making them feel
Staying open to gentle reminders of kindness from the people around me
Trying really hard to be kind to myself, by manually overriding the urge to do more, be more or push harder.
I'd love to know what you do to be a kind person - does it come naturally to you? Do you have to readjust depending on your surroundings?