Spread a Little Kindness Today – 7 Ways

kindness quoteThere is all together too much hatred in the world today.  Honestly, it scares me.  It feels so irrational and I have a hard time relating because I cannot remember hating a person or “a people” in my life.

So today, I was brainstorming with myself on how to spread a little more kindness and I thought I would share my ideas with you.  Please feel free to add to the list.

  1. Thank someone who doesn’t expect it. There are all kinds of thankless jobs out there and even thankless tasks.  Pick one and make a point to show appreciation for a job well done that might get taken for granted.  Be explicit in your thanks—just how did that person make an impact on you or someone else?
  2. Smile more. Try to be more conscious of your facial expression, especially when you look at others.  And make eye contact.  You never know—you may be the only connection someone has today to the outside world.  Let them know you see them.
  3. Do something random that will help or lift another person, whether they know it or not. Buy a cup of coffee for someone working outdoors, help an older person carry their groceries or cross the street, make extra food and bring some to a busy neighbor. Leave a bigger tip or give your change to the next person in line.
  4. Give away some of the “too many clothes” in your closet – to a homeless shelter, the veterans, or any other charity that is looking to clothe the less fortunate people in the world. Think especially of the cold weather ahead and how much a sweater, pair of socks or warm coat can mean to someone who doesn’t have them.
  5. Call a friend or family member “just because.” Let them know you were thinking about them and that you are happy they are part of your life.  You can even email or text this message, along with a few hearts and smiley faces.
  6. Write a testimonial on LinkedIn, a book review on Amazon, a review on Trip Advisor or Yelp. These are especially appreciated by small operators that depend on positive word of mouth to survive and grow.
  7. Take some time for you. A walk in the woods, a warm bath, a cup of tea and time to sit and think, read, or just to be inspired by the world around you.  After all, you count as someone who deserves a little more kindness, right?

Imagine picking one thing every day that demonstrates more kindness in the world.  I am challenging myself to do just that for the next 30 days.  Having done this before, I can tell you the rewards are way more than you think.

This is the perfect season to spread a little kindness.  Will you join me?

#kindness #30-day-challenge

Are There Stupid Questions? (Part 2)

Students Holding Question Markes, What Kind of Future Could Have?

Have you ever asked a question that resulted in anger or frustration or impatience or eye-rolling or some other unwelcoming response?  

After I posted a blog called When It Comes to Asking Tough Questions, How Well Do You COPE?, I was asked what to do when people ask you stupid questions, so I wrote another piece called “Are There Stupid Questions?” providing some options for re-directing such questions.

Now I want to address this from the perspective of the asker.  If you’ve ever asked a question that was met with an unexpected negative reaction, you may have asked a “stupid” question—one that is asked A LOT (maybe even by you), or you’ve asked the wrong person, or you just didn’t think first.

Here’s a few things to think about before blurting out your question:

If you are asking for help or for information

  1. Has the person invited questions, either explicitly or implicitly? Give some thought to whether or not they will be receptive to your question.
  2. What have you done to answer the question for yourself? Google search?
  3. Have you spent any time thinking about the issue yourself, generating possible options, for example? People are a lot more receptive if you can demonstrate that you have not taken the easy way out.
  4. Are you sure this is the right person to ask? At a minimum, begin your inquiry by acknowledging that she may not be or by asking who is the right person.
  5. Is it the right time and place? What’s going on around the person or what’s about to happen? Will you be putting them on the spot in front of others?  Are they OK with that?  Are they about to start a meeting or event or just ending one?

If you are asking for mentoring, coaching or perspective

  1. Be respectful of the person’s time, attention and expertise. Don’t assume you are entitled to the help.
  2. Spend some time crafting your question so that it is thoughtful and truly honors the person’s unique point of view; however, don’t preface your question by over-doing the flattery.
  3. In a group setting, ask the question in a way that will benefit others who may have a similar question, instead of making it so specifically personal that it helps only you.
  4. Think about the image you want to project. Are you confident, upbeat and appreciative or are you trying to put the person on the defensive because of your own issues? What’s your energy like?

Learning to ask good questions – of yourself and others – is a skill worth cultivating.  Sometimes, just taking a moment to think about the question can make all the difference in the quality of the answers you get!

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and insights on this topic.  Or your questions (there, I’m inviting you!).

#askingtoughquestions #askingquestions #stupidquestions #questions

Are There Stupid Questions?

Many sticky notes with questions like who, what, when, where, how and why, and a question mark, all posted on an office noteboard to represent confusion in communincation“There’s no such thing as a stupid question, just stupid answers.”  How many times have you heard that?

After I posted a blog called When It Comes to Asking Tough Questions, How Well Do You COPE?, I was asked what to do when people ask you stupid questions.  Well, that’s a loaded question right there.

First, I recommend some introspection.  Remember, we train people how to treat us.  So ask yourself, what have I done to contribute to this behavior? Sometimes there’s a fine balance between being accessible, having an open door policy and discouraging people from becoming resourceful.

Two different types of questions occurred to me:  the ones you are asked over and over again because of your position or role and the ones that are simply thoughtless and presumptuous.  Let’s look at possible solutions for each situation:

When you’re asked the same question repeatedly

It’s good to have a standard answer that acknowledges that it’s a question that comes up a lot and refers people to an alternate source, encouraging them to be a bit more resourceful next time:

  • the FAQ section of your website
  • someone else more appropriate (depending on your organization, this could be their supervisor or a peer or someone assigned to help newcomers)
  • in a group setting, I will sometimes ask “who would like to answer that question for X?”

When it’s not really your job to be “the go-to resource”

When asked for information that is readily available elsewhere, I love to ask the questioner things like:

  • What prompted you to ask me that question?
  • What do you think you should do?
  • What have you tried / Where have you looked so far?
  • What do you think your options are?
  • Who else have you asked?

Again, the goal here is to get people to think first before just blurting out the question because it’s so much easier.

What do you think?

Now, I realize this can be controversial and I welcome your thoughts on how to handle this.  My experience is that people will take the path of least resistance and while I don’t want to be unhelpful, I do think there’s value in creating some resistance at times.

When time is not of the essence, people may be better served by trying to figure some things out without asking the “big boss” or the subject matter expert.

More on this next time from the questioner’s point of view….stay tuned.

#askingtoughquestions #askingquestions #stupidquestions #questions