During this holiday season, we hope to find a way to stifle the smartphone, tune out the video games and walk away from the computer—at least long enough to contemplate the past year: its good parts and bad, but especially the people who have been generous and kind to us on so many fronts.
Kindness. It can quietly overwhelm. It can speak more loudly than all of the TV “Housewives” put together (excluding, perhaps, the New Jersey ones). Kindness can make differences seem insignificant. And during this sometimes harsh season, it is astonishing to contemplate the ways kindness has knit our diverse worlds together through the centuries. It was the Dalai Lama who said, “My religion is very simple. Kindness is my religion.”
At Attorney at Work, we propose that 2011 is the year to explore kindness as a universal business principle. Acts of kindness not only bind clients and colleagues to you, they can be the key to improving employee (and practice) performance. Trendwatching.com even identifies “random acts of kindness” as the number one consumer trend for the coming year.
It’s a pretty easy concept to embody. Think about picking up the tab or springing for a bottle of wine when your assistant is heading out to a special dinner. Send a surprise gift to a client, “just because.” Arrange for a cleaning service for a partner who’s been working doubly hard caring for aged parents and a full caseload. Check your client’s Facebook page to see if they like or support campaigns for a particular charity, and donate. Text your paralegal and tell him to take tomorrow off. As Aesop said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Perhaps even more profoundly, we pledge to approach our actual work with kindness. In the office, the conference room, the courtroom, online, on the road and all year long.
So here’s to a kind new year!
Merrilyn Astin Tarlton & Joan Feldman for Attorney at Work