Notes on kindness

In this week of raising Mental Health Awareness, it strikes me that there is more than one reason to be kind. In addition to the obvious (to some) reasons to be kind that have been widely discussed on social media this week, I am sure that it is also reasonably clear (again, to some) that better outcomes from interactions with people are routinely achievable through being mindful of the manner in which we approach all interactions, either socially or commercially.

I have just watched an interview with an Oxford University professor on BBC Breakfast which was informative, positive and pleasing to watch and listen to. The interview was conducted in a courteous and respectful manner in which the journalist listened to answers and asked appropriate follow up questions.

Conversely, over these past weeks it seems that it has generally become de rigueur within the broadcast media community to approach interviewing political figures in a manner which could best be described as rude, aggressive, presupposing, self-serving and aimed in the main at proving the interviewee wrong, the interviewer right and giving them their “gotcha” moment on national television.

In general, this is all done in the name of holding the government to account. As a direct consequence, the interviews are rarely either easy or informative to watch, the interviewees feeling the need to be constantly on the defensive. In some instances we even have a situation where the government flat refuses to engage with the more tabloid iteration of broadcast media because of the manner in which the journalism is being approached – I’m not sure how this could be considered as holding the government to account and as both a citizen and a viewer, I certainly would not wish such an approach and absence of kindness to be demonstrated in my name.

This is not a defence of government or politicians, nor is it meant to be an attack on journalism although it could be perceived as such, however, in no other walk of life would it be acceptable to routinely speak to people in this way. So why in this instance is it now acceptable all of a sudden ?

Back to the point – When kindness is shown with authenticity and conviction, it will make you feel good, make others feel good and, if your engagement has an aim, you will get a better outcome. Win – Win – Win !

Nick Thompson is VP, Global Technical Services and IFM Systems Deployment, Sodexo

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