Kindness: often appreciated, not often duplicated enough

I was on a work call earlier this week with a customer who I was meeting for the very first time. He actually let me know that he was leaving the company in two weeks, but not by his own choice. The company was going through a reduction-in-force (RIF), aka a layoff, and unfortunately, he was one of the unlucky “chosen” ones. He had been at the company for over 40 years and never worked anywhere else; he said he wasn’t sure what his next steps were going to be and who would want to hire someone at his age. We spoke a bit about that and I shared my concern and tried to wish him the best.

“Yvonne, I’ve just met you, but you have really made my day,” he said. “I really mean it. Not to say that people at your company aren’t kind, but you are incredibly kind, and I will remember your kindness. I feel like even though I just met you, we already really know each other. It’s really going to help me get through the day and my remaining days here.”

It’s so easy to be kind and supportive, whether it’s for a second or a minute, whether it’s leaving a door open for someone, helping someone with something they’ve dropped on the street, or even saying a few supportive words in a time of vulnerability. Not everyone does this, though, because they think it’s “an extra effort,” an inconvenience, or just won’t be received well. But when this man said this to me, I could tell he really meant what he said. We’re essentially strangers on a video call who will unlikely ever meet each other in person, yet he said my words really helped him. Sometimes, it really is the small gestures that we perform that stay with people. And they really are worth the extra effort or seconds it takes us to do them. As much negativity is shared on social media and in the news, I feel like almost every day, someone random on the street, all strangers, does kind things for me, whether it’s a little smile, making extra space for me in a crowded elevator, playing peek-a-boo with Kaia to get her to cheer up in the midst of a tantrum on the train, or assisting me with the door at the daycare when I’m struggling to keep the door open while also getting the stroller in/out (and they’re just a passerby, not even someone trying to get in/out of the school!).

Kindness is its own circular economy, one that each of us needs to contribute to in order to create a better world for us all.

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