“Be Kind” is More Than a T-Shirt

by Patrick McNerthney

I recently told a colleague (yes, I have colleagues, thank you very much – and several nemeses, which I’m actually even more proud of) that one of my clients is “very kind.” This was in response to my colleague’s (Chris’s) series of rapid-fire questions (he’s quite energetic) that went like this:

“Hey buddy, how’s work goin? Whattya working on? Anything cool? How are your clients–ahhhhhhh clients (rolls eyes/shakes head wisely.) You know what I mean right? Man! Anyway, how’s that one pain in the butt?… You know who I mean; ol whatshisname?”

So I confided to Chris that the specific client in question is doing great and the turn-around is amazing! The account manager/cat herder/my point of contact is now “very kind.”

Dead silence from my colleague’s phone. 

(Oh how I wish dead silence was more of a thing.)

To the point where I finally tapped the phone., “Hey Chris! You still there, buddy? ”

And my hyper-conversational friend replied, very haltingly, “Wow. I haven’t heard anyone described as kind in a very, very, long time. In like, forever. Especially when it comes to work stuff, especially a client.”

So I went on about how the cat-herder is, generally speaking, humble, patient, inquisitive yet respectful, direct with feedback but carefully ponders how to express her thoughts before speaking, i.e. she’s considerate and empathetic. And maybe the most impressive thing is how she always says “thank you” — especially when things are super busy and she’s driving her advertising agency train (she has her own clients, lots of them, and I bet many are, ahem, quite the handful).

See, it’s not your typical “Thank you for giving me what I want/what I asked for/what I needed/what I demanded.”. No,this is more along the lines of, “Thank you for showing up, for caring, for trying so hard. Thank you for the sheer effort.”

Yep, she’s a keeper. 

Chris suddenly muttered something about being late for a meeting and hung up.

But here’s what he (and many of us) is missing: Putting “be kind” on a bumper sticker or wearing it on a t-shirt is kind of annoying, because it communicates moral superiority combined with a command. Plus it’s just generally kind of suspicious, like when someone says, “Hey! You can trust me!”

(Commands can come across like this, be forewarned.)

Whereas genuine kindness happens interactively. We know when  someone is kind to us because suddenly we feel seen and respected. 

That’s it. No t-shirts, gifts, gimmicks, favors, or free (unsolicited) advice. Real kindness is almost sneaky–invisible, slow, and hopefully, repetitive. When we encounter kindness repeatedly, we FEEL LIKE WE MATTER.

That’s what the client lady does, and certainly I’m not the only one who knows this – her non-crazy clients (and colleagues) can likely attest to that too! 

Over to you. Your efforts to help your residents and loved ones not just survive social isolation, but THRIVE in the face of adversity, shows you’ve got your sights set on real kindness. No t-shirts or bumper stickers needed for you, no way.  

And you know who else knows something about kindness? That’s right– Fine Art Miracles! FAM is here to provide the tools to caregivers of the elderly, children with challenges, or anyone who needs help with the tasks of daily living…tools that unlock the power of creative expression.

That’s because Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Dance & Movement Therapy, and Multi-Sensory Sessions unlock the parts of your mind that result in better feelings: confidence, self-worth, mastery, curiosity, pride, and relevance to the world. And once they’re unlocked, they can combat the consequences of social isolation, and things like anxiety, depression, loneliness, and hopelessness. 

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get thriving! You can reach out to FAM anytime to get started. Give them a call or drop them a note, they’re ready to help! (I have it on good authority they’re a pretty kind bunch as well.)

Whelp, guess I better call chatty Chris back, just to make sure he’s okay. He does love to gossip;and I must admit, I do too. Well, really it’s more about me listening to his gossip about the crazy graphic design world and his share of whacky clients. I imagine that’s not so kind of me to do (or encourage), but that’s why I’ll be sure to wear my “be kind” t-shirt when I call.


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