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How to communicate kindness in your organisation

I believe kindness has the potential to transform lives inside our workplaces and homes.

Tuesday 13 November 2018 is World Kindness Day. Are you planning to mark it in your organisation? If so, I’d love to know how, do comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

In this article you’ll find suggested ways of communicating kindness.

During my talk at the Public Sector Communications conference, #CommsAcad, last month, I highlighted kindness as a superpower:

Did you know that kindness is teachable? “It’s kind of like weight training, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help” – Dr. Ritchie Davidson, University of Wisconsin.

Committing acts of kindness lowers blood pressure. According to Dr. David R. Hamilton, acts of kindness create emotional warmth, which releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and, therefore, oxytocin is known as a “cardioprotective” hormone. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.

Sounds good to me!

Within my household, we talk about kindness with my six-year-old daughter and three-year-old twin sons a lot. My daughter shared this inspiring quote with me recently:

Since my talk at #CommsAcad, I’ve been asked by communicators how they can demonstrate kindness in organisations.

So, as promised, here are five ways to communicate kindness in your organisation:

1) Create ways for employees to recognise each other publicly such as a thank you card option or message board as part of your recognition scheme. Some Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) allow people to praise their colleagues through likes and badges. Do you collate those somewhere and reward the person who praises the most? Make it easy for your workforce to be kind to each other.

2) Be mindful of your language and consider the impact of the words you use. When communicating restructures, don’t refer to employees as numbers, they’re people. If you’re a council or housing association, they are not units, they are homes. Are the descriptive words you use kind ones? What about blue/white-collar?

3) Ensure you’re communicating *with* not *to* employees. There’s a difference between broadcast, one-way communication *at* employees, and inclusive, two-way communication *with* them. Not sure where your organisation falls? Analyse how you prioritise employee voice.

4) Look for ways to introduce personalised communication. For example, could your CEO personally sign birthday cards for employees? Some of the organisations I work with do this and it always goes down well. Or could they sign congratulations cards for new hires or long serving employees?

Don’t underestimate the power of handwritten communication, I use it constantly in my work.

5) Highlight positive examples. We know peer-to-peer communication is seen as credible, trusted and reliable (Edelman Trust Barometer 2013). Spot opportunities to highlight examples of employees being kind to each other to role model that behaviour.

As an added bonus, here are some ways to communicate kindness with other internal communicators. What would you add? Do let me know by commenting below or Tweeting me @AllthingsIC.

How to communicate kindness with other internal communicators

1) If you have a blog, offer IC pros the chance to guest blog to help raise their profiles. That offer is always open on mine and I’ve featured approx 400 IC pros over the past nine years through posts and comments. Please see my guidelines first. If you have been featured, don’t forget to download your All Things IC badge.

2) Look for ways to lift each other up. Could you be a mentor? If you’re an Institute of Internal Communication member, I encourage you to consider signing up to their mentoring scheme. My fabulous mentee Eleanor McManus and I recently shared what it’s like to work together via this initiative.

3) Share your knowledge. There are numerous ways to share your knowledge with other IC pros to help them to succeed. From writing post-conference articles on your own blog or LinkedIn article (everyone has these) to attending industry events and offering to speak. You have a story to tell and ways to help other comms pros. Even if you are new to the profession, I’m confident others could learn from you being kind enough to share your experience.

Further reading about World Kindness Day

Check out the World Kindness Day website.

Further reading via All Things IC: The power of kindness.

If you are marking World Kindness Day on Tuesday 13 November 2018, do let me know how.

Thank you as ever for stopping by,

Rachel

Post author: Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 11 November 2018.

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