Kindness at work when things are really bad

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Things in the work setting are had. Anxiety is extra high due to the lack of job stability and demands to perform. Throw in extremely low morale and economic/political/environmental unrest and it’s not hard to figure out why so many of us are struggling. Join me this week as we dive into what I think we all need more of and how to practice is daily. Listen and learn.

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Hey y’all, how’s it going? All right, we’re about to kick it into high gear. I feel like these last couple months of the year get pretty busy between kids going back to school, busy holiday season. It becomes peak season for a lot of us at work. The new year, there’s the rush to finish out goals before the end of the year. There’s the challenge of budgets getting pulled at the end of the year. All sorts of fun adventures. But I’m excited. I am ready. I’ve had an amazing summer. We played hard this summer, and I’m ready to get back into a routine and kick things up in my business. I’ve got some fun ideas coming along, so I hope you’re excited for the rest of the year too.

 

I had an experience this summer I want to share with you guys and talk about this concept I’ve been thinking about a little bit. We were at a resort where there were lots of families and lots of kids and parents and things all over the place at this resort. And I was sitting there, and a mom came up. She came up to me and said, “Are you Jack’s mom?” And I said, “No.” She said, “Hmm, okay,” and she kind of walked off. And I could tell by the tone in her voice and the way she was looking, something wasn’t right and something was going on. At the same time, I could hear some kid in one of the pools just yelling and screaming. So I went up to her and I said, “Is Jack the one screaming?” She goes, “Yeah.” I said, “All right,” and immediately I got up and went and started asking some of the other parents, “Are you Jack’s parents?” And they could tell something was going on. And all of a sudden, there was a whole group of us who, quite frankly, were trying to avoid contact and communication and do our own thing before this, who all of a sudden we’re doing everything we could to find Jack’s parents. Jack was safe, but he definitely was in a situation where he needed his parent. And I had this moment, we found his parents, he was okay, it all got taken care of. But it made me realize in that moment, nothing was said, no one said, “Hey, can you come help?” It wasn’t like I took a class on being a good human and a parent of what to do when a kid is struggling and you can’t find their parents. We all just got up, and I like to think of it as we all were in parent club right at that moment. There was a child in need and they didn’t have their parents, and all the other parents were actively engaged and helping that child fulfill their needs and get them to a better, safer place. There wasn’t anything crazy and big that happened, it was just this moment where I felt such a strong connection with these total strangers that, to be honest, I went back to my chair reading and didn’t really talk to you again. But we all, for this moment, were in this parent club with the pool. It’s like this unspoken club we all were just a part of. And it’s kind of made me realize throughout life, there’s a lot of these different types of what I would call clubs that we’re a part of, whether we choose to be or not. It’s no secret, I am slightly obsessed with music, live concerts in particular. And this summer, I had so much fun taking my girls to the Taylor Swift concert. And then I had one of these moments where it was this huge sold-out arena of, I don’t know, 70-something thousand people in this location, and we all were in the Taylor Swift club together. We all were singing, we all were dressed up, we all were trading bracelets. No one was angry and rude, everyone was enjoying the night and having so much fun. We all just had this little sliver, this little moment where we were together as Taylor Swift fans having this amazing experience. We were in the Taylor Swift club in that moment. And I’ve had multiple moments like that at concerts that have been extremely spiritual and physically moving to me as a human being. I’ve also seen this with people that drive motorcycles. If you’ve ever noticed, when someone on a motorcycle passes another person on a motorcycle, oftentimes they will give what looks like an upside-down peace sign. They kind of put their arm down and they give like this upside-down peace sign to the other person on the motorcycle. And one day, I was like, “What is that? There’s something there I don’t know about,” because I don’t do motorcycles myself. And as I researched, like, what is that all about, essentially it’s a sign they give to each other of like acknowledging each other in solidarity, and it also means like, two wheels down, like basically saying, “Have a safe ride.” Right? It’s just this little moment of connection of saying, “I see you, we’re in this motorcycle club together.” Some of these clubs we’re in, and they might be by choice, but we don’t love them. Or sometimes they’re not by choice. I think if there’s a Grey’s Anatomy episode that stuck with me, not sure why, where one of the characters, his dad passes away, and another one of the characters is trying to help him as he’s really kind of struggling with this right after it happens. And she goes to him and she says, “Congratulations, you’re in the dead dad club now.” And it’s one of those things, you know you can’t be in unless you have a dead dad. And it kind of is a pivotal turning point in the character development. I won’t get into that today, but sometimes there’s these clubs we get into that aren’t fun, that we don’t want to, but until you’ve experienced it, until you’ve gone through it, it’s hard to really understand and know what being a part of that club is like. I think of that as I’ve seen many of my friends go through cancer clubs or as I’ve experienced going through the divorce club. There’s just certain things in life that when you’re a part of, you’re a part of, and it’s like, there are these unspoken rules, these unspoken connections we have with other people that are in a similar situation.

 

With that being said, there’s a club I really want to grow and I want to invite you to be a part of. You may not know it, but you’re actually already a part of it. I just want to bring your attention to it and hopefully bring some reactivation, possibly for you and for those around you, to this club. And what I call this club is the kindness club. We are living in a time when anxiety is so high, in a work setting, morale is extremely low. Kindness, it’s not just a luxury and something that’s nice. I believe it is vital and necessary to us continuing to move forward and find healthy ways to keep growing and getting ourselves out of this. We’ll need to show up daily in our lives, in whatever setting that is, as an active participant in the kindness club. The Oxford dictionary defines kindness as a quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Now, I think kindness sometimes gets used in the wrong way and we can weaponize it in a way that we kind of don’t like ourselves, of “Oh, I wasn’t being kind,” or sometimes we won’t have difficult conversations or be honest and vulnerable with people because we want to be, quote unquote, kind. I’m not talking about that kindness. I’m not talking about the kindness that we hide behind so that we don’t make people feel bad. I’m talking about the kindness of simply being friendly, generous, considerate.

 

So I think there’s kind of five things we can do to be an active daily participant in this kindness club. The first thing to note if you want to be an active member of the kindness club, it starts with being kinder to yourself. If you are not feeling physically, emotionally, mentally in a good spot, it’s a lot more challenging to be friendly and generous and considerate to those around us because we aren’t in a space where we have anything left to give. That’s okay. If you find yourself there, come be a member of the kindness club and let’s start with being kinder to yourself. I’m not going to dive into it today, but go listen to the episode before this about self-care. But you’ve got to learn to start being kinder to yourself, not having such unrealistic expectations, being proud of yourself for showing up and trying, and telling yourself that you’re proud of yourself, acknowledging the things that are working and the growth and the progress that you’ve made, and the things that are working out and the things you figured out and how you’ve made it every single day so far being a member of the kindness club. I cannot stress this enough. It starts with being kinder to yourself.

 

Okay, the second thing to be an active member is you got to do your job. You got to do your part in a work setting. Don’t overcommit. Don’t say yes when you don’t have the bandwidth, when saying yes is going to create resentment and frustration and additional stress and anxiety. Remember, kindness is being considerate. We need you to do your job so someone else doesn’t have to step in and do it. We need you to honor the commitments that you’re making, to do things on time when you say you’re going to do them, and to be nice to yourself along the way, to not overcomplicate it, to not get all worked up and freaked out if it doesn’t go perfectly or according to plan, but we need you to show up and do your job, whatever that means. Hope is not a strategy. You know what your job is, you know what your work to do is each and every day. Be an active member of the kindness club and just go do it.

 

Third, be intentional about connecting with people around you. It takes conscious effort, whether that’s because someone’s virtual or lives across the country, or because you’re all busy and heads down and stressed and worried. It takes conscious effort to connect. Do it on purpose. We need to be friendly, we need to be generous, we need to be consistent with each other so that we can help and support each other. We are all struggling. You know what helps humans that struggle? Being kind to each other and connecting and supporting one another. Get to know people around you as humans and be a human yourself. Look up, don’t be on your phone all the time, smile at someone on the bus, right into the office, talk to the cashier as you’re checking out. It’s very small, simple gestures, but be intentional about connecting with people around you.

 

The fourth thing in the kindness club is recognizing and acknowledging people. This can be in the form of compliments and highlighting things people do well. I’m all for that, but it can also be in the form of being present with people. Again, this will go back to connection, but recognizing and acknowledging people means I am here, my attention is with you. I’m not multitasking, I’m not on my phone, I don’t have my AirPods in, I am present and focused and acknowledging you as a person. Following up on things as you connect and learn more about your co-workers, it’s asking follow-up questions and seeing how things went and asking better questions about it and diving into it and getting curious about them. It’s listening without needing to respond. Recognize and acknowledge people, including yourself. I won’t go back to that, but all these apply to yourself as well. It’s so important.

 

And the fifth thing as a member of the kindness club is I would offer to you to think about and choose when to give feedback on purpose. And this one in particular in a work setting I think is really important. You don’t have to provide feedback and call everything out. If you don’t have a specific example to back up the feedback you think you need to provide, it’s not ready, don’t give it. Assume they did their best. This was a trap I found myself in often as I was in a position where people would come to me specifically for feedback as a leader on a team. They wanted to know my opinion and what I was saying. And what I found was as I was working with other leaders and other peers, some leaders would give feedback on every single tiny detail, and some were very strategic about the feedback they gave. And for me personally, the ones who were strategic about the feedback I listened to more because I knew they weren’t just there to poke holes in every single thing I was presenting and doing, but they were there to talk about the feedback that’s important. So remember, we want to be considerate, we want to be kind. There are times where we need to provide the feedback, but don’t provide it just to poke holes. I like to run my feedback through the filter of two questions. One, if I provide this feedback, is it going to help this person the next time they need to do this task or something similar? If the answer is yes, I may look for a way to provide it in the appropriate setting. If the answer is no, and I’m just a control enthusiast and want this thing to be perfect and look exactly how I think it should, it’s not the time for feedback. I’m choosing kindness. The second filter I run my feedback through is, will the feedback I’m about to provide help change the direction of the project or the goal that we’re trying to reach? Again, if the answer is no, I’m not going to provide the feedback. I’m in the kindness club. Here’s the thing, kindness can’t be measured, but it happens one person at a time. It’s also this beautiful, amazing thing because the more you practice it, the more you get to feel satisfied and having a sense of well-being because it chemically increases your serotonin and dopamine. There are multiple clubs we all are a part of, and the connection in those clubs can be extremely important and tight and intense and quick and fleeting and here and gone. But I would offer to you to think about how are you going to increase your participation in the kindness club today? We need you. You are amazingly kind and a fabulous human. Start by being kind to yourself and show up and be a member of the kindness club with me. All right, you’re amazing. I’m proud of you for showing up today and listening to this message. You got this. We’ll talk soon.

 

If what you’re learning from this podcast is helping, this is just the beginning. Each week I offer a limited number of coffee chats so that you and I can connect one-on-one and talk specifically about what’s going on for you. You’ll leave this call feeling more hopeful and motivated, but I’m also going to teach you a few things to try right away to get unstuck. Space is very limited, and these are free, so grab your spot before they’re gone. Click the link in the show notes or go to Lindsaylymancoaching.com/chat and sign up today. You got this.

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman

I spent the last ~12 years growing my career at Amazon. I’ve built teams, launched new products, and created my own jobs. As a certified coach, I teach people how to manage the noise in their head to feel motivated and valued at work again.

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