I came across this quotation from the Dalai Lama on LinkedIn and then tweeted it. Why did it resonate with me to the extent that I would take the trouble to circulate it in this way? Well, there is a story …
In my new business venture, I have come into contact with a couple of businessmen who were pupils when I started my teaching career in away back in 1977. Gail and I were at a meeting with them in their premises a week or so ago talking about some work that we might do together on a really creative idea that they have come up with.
In the preamble, while the tea was being poured, we were conversing about the school all those years ago and what it was like. Our reminiscences took us on a journey where we spoke about the good things about the school and the not so good. The discussion made me think about how things have changed since back then. I suppose most dramatically, the behaviour management techniques used by the teachers were singularly less humane in these days. We used to assault the students with leather belts, specially made in Lochgelly for the purpose, for goodness sake! Strangely enough, that wasn’t the thing that they were highlighting most as a bad memory. The memory with this distinction was the prevailing custom back then of teachers calling male pupils by their second names – Smith, Jones or whatever rather than James or John. “I hated that,” said one of them.
I remember thinking the very same thing when I had been a pupil some 10 years before them. I hated it too and determined, when I became a teacher, that this was something I wouldn’t do, and I didn’t. My belief was, and is, that it is an approach that is fundamentally unkind. When I saw the quotation from the Dalai Lama, I put it together with this conversation.
We would all do well to consider this as a maxim in our lives – both at work and beyond. Whatever your job, treat those around you with kindness. If you are in a supervisory role you can discharge your duties with kindness. Colleagues who are not meeting expectations can be redirected with kindness; those who are can be acknowledged with kindness. I believe that both groups will respond positively to the approach and in the final analysis it will help to build a more positive organisational culture.
People respond to kindness – and a smile works wonders. Smile at somebody as you pass them and they’ll smile back. Just try it if you don’t believe me. When you are at the checkout in the supermarket or filling station, ask the store employee how they are or how their day is going. They will respond positively. It is simply human nature. My late Uncle Joe used to say, “It’s nice to be nice.” He was right.