Midweek Musings: Kindness - It's all about the little things! — R Voice

Midweek Musings: Kindness - It's all about the little things!

Andrea Hayward
Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 350 admin

I think we can all agree that kindness makes everything better, at least a little if not a whole lot. And I'm always saying that we need more kindness in academia and that we can never have too much of it! ❤️

While all of this is true, it's also true that kindness is often missed or underacknowledged because it tends to manifest itself in the simplest ways. It could be something as simple as someone inviting you to share a meal with them, or someone checking on you when they know you're not doing your best. However small, an act of kindness makes a big difference to people! And so today, I thought we could all express gratitude for kindness in academia by talking about our own little experiences.

So here's my question to you - Have you ever experienced kindness at work? What did it look like? Your answer could be the simplest of gestures. So, please don't hold back! 😊

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Comments

  • Gustavo Arluna
    Gustavo Arluna Member Posts: 81 ✭✭✭
    edited July 7

    Thank you @Andrea Hayward

    Well, I had both experiences, kindness and rudeness. I just can say that kindness is definitely the way for getting the best of someone else. If you are not kind, the other person will be closed to you and your common projects will not be as a success as it could be.

    But kindness makes you effort 110% for the project and even for the other person. After all, human beings are social beings, we need to live in community and we cannot know everything, so we need each other. In the XXI century not being kind is anachronistic.

    You can even be kind to people that is not good people, because kindness also makes you feel better. You can discuss something you don't agree without losing kindness.

    Kindness is one of the "soft skills" that companies look for when hiring people for example under the phrase "we work in a good environment".

    And I think is not so hard to be kind. "Please", "Thank you", "congratulations", "I appreciate your work", etc, are just simple but powerful phrases that can make your day.

    In written language I also like to add 😊👍💪🤗❤️🙏👏🥳🤜🤛 and emojis like that, when possible.

    😊#KindnessTeam

  • Soumi Paul
    Soumi Paul Member Posts: 137 ✭✭✭✭

    There are many such little experiences in this academic journey that still make me feel hopeful. The one that always makes me smile is when I left Dehradun after completion of my research project. I was returning home with a RAC ticket and loads of luggage alone. The whole day I was so busy packing stuff I missed my lunch, surviving only on morning coffee. My train timing was early evening and I was getting late enough to reach the station, so, could not buy any food on the go. I was so tired from the whole day's activities that I decided to skip dinner too. Opposite to my seat, an uncle and aunt were sitting, and the aunt somehow observed me. Suddenly, she came forward to talk with me, asked me about my dinner plans. I said I did not buy anything, will see what to buy. Then surprisingly, she offered me to have dinner with them. She was so kind and humble with her hospitality that I can not express in words.

    My academic journeys allowed me to meet many kind anonymous people, this incident I remember most. I forever am in debt to these people who filled my heart with a deep sense of kindness by their selfless acts.

  • Soumi Paul
    Soumi Paul Member Posts: 137 ✭✭✭✭

    Truly, kindness makes a person's day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 😊

  • Gustavo Arluna
    Gustavo Arluna Member Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    How different would be the world with kindness! And kindness involves love in some way.

    Thanks for sharing this nice story. 😊

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 242 ✭✭✭✭

    I feel I'm a bit late to this party, but @Andrea Hayward I love that we are always so in sync...I started a discussion thread the other day which is so very similar to this. (Alas, no one wanted to engage in my thread, clearly I'm still learning to title it something useful for people to want to engage!)

    For me kindness is so underrated, it's the thing that gets thrown out the window when people are stressed or busy etc. For me, I remember the very first day of my PhD when I clearly looked like a dear in the headlight and the office was pretty empty. I felt so lost, and one of the people in the office, clearly in the middle of work took a break and had a chat with me. To this day, I miss her now she has left our lab.

    Personally, I try to do the things for others that I think would have helped me. I am happy to chat, I try to make sure that (particularly new PhDs) know that I'm an empathetic ear, and they're not stupid and I'm here if they have questions. It's. a bit different as we're not in the office together given COVID-19 but it's the same sort of things.

    Kindness comes in so many forms, as @Gustavo Arluna has pointed out: manners are such a simple expression of kindness, along with encouragement. For me I like to live by the phrase (I'm paraphrasing from the original because I don't remember it): "Celebrating the achievements of others doesn't take away from your own". The sentiment is there, however. The cattiness and competition that can fill labs leads to a toxic work environment where kindness seems to be a trade for something else (in my opinion).

  • Gustavo Arluna
    Gustavo Arluna Member Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    You are never late for a party here!

    By the way, if title for your threads doesn't work, you always have the option of tagging us. We will be glad to join your discussion/parties. 😁

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 242 ✭✭✭✭

    @Gustavo Arluna Thank you for the support and encouragement. I don't know why I don't tag people...I think I feel self-conscious..like it's the same as going up to a crowd and talking to people! haha

    I'll accept this as a mission of growth next time! Thank you :)

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 242 ✭✭✭✭

    PS This here...this is the most recent kindess moment I have experiences. Thank you @Gustavo Arluna !!

  • Raj sundaram
    Raj sundaram Member Posts: 302 ✭✭✭✭
    edited July 9

    @Andrea Hayward - completely agree that kindness can go a long way. But as @Shruti Turner mentions in her a comment under her post https://voice.researcher.life/discussion/290/whats-your-lollipop-moment#latest...in academia, kindness can be punished! It shouldnt be, but that is how it is largely.

    What is missing rather than kindness in academia is professionalism, because of the lack of rules and accountability. A system shouldnt be reliant on "kindness", which is a choice and subjective.

    That said, I have been fortunate to have had colleagues who were willing to share materials/methods they had developed with a lot of effort and time. I have used these methods for my research - of course, giving credit to the concerned people who have helped me without fail.

    I have extended similar kindness to others: sharing materials/methods I have developed. Sometimes, I have received credit, other times I ended up being exploited/betrayed. I have learnt to take these things in my stride - as an occupational hazard in researcher life. And these things happen in life outside research as well. With experience, I am more cautious about choosing the people to whom I extend my kindness (as a researcher and in life, in general).

    Also posted a story of kindness from strangers in https://voice.researcher.life/discussion/290/whats-your-lollipop-moment#latest under Shruthi's post. ☺️

  • Raj sundaram
    Raj sundaram Member Posts: 302 ✭✭✭✭
    edited July 9

    @Shruti Turner : If you can and feel comfortable, please tag people as @Gustavo Arluna suggests. A poke might help many of us - acting as a reminder. There are so many conversations happening that I forget to take part in/miss posts. ☺️

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 242 ✭✭✭✭

    @Raj sundaram - I find it interesting that kindness and professionalism have these days seemingly become conflated. In my mind they should always be different...with professionalism being the common courtesies we extend to colleagues to make sure of an open and safe work environment. Kindness is that step removed, in my mind of being about people specifically. Granted I believe there should be elements of kindness is professionalism, but I think I still view the two as distinct...

    It's great to hear that you have been sharing the kindness and supporting others, and I admire your ability to take in your stride the good and the bad. My hope is that kindness will become more appreciated and the widespread norm, rather than something we are pleasantly surprised to encounter!

    PS - I'll do my best to start tagging you all :)

  • Gustavo Arluna
    Gustavo Arluna Member Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    @Raj sundaram I fully agree with you! Sometimes I just need a reminder.

  • Dahlia T
    Dahlia T Member Posts: 77 ✭✭✭

    @Andrea Hayward ...aaah kindness. In academia and business, where so much is cut throat, many often neglect to show it, many are afraid to show it for fear it is misconstrued as weakness, many are afraid of it because it often comes with 'strings attached', many think they do not deserve it ... but when kindness in its purest and simplest form is expressed, and when you are the recipient of such a display, you will never forget it...and most likely in turn you also become a giver of kind words & deeds.

    Recently, I was not well... ...imagine my surprise when my office mate, who is on their way out (submission in progress) texted me to check in on me ...and hours later turned up with 'soup', as in went to the grocery, bought fresh ingredients, made proper homemade soup, things pureed and the like. I am one of those who give but always feel not so deserving to receive, and hesitate to receive because of those invisible attached strings to each gesture....let's just say I had tears in my eyes and I was grinning from ear to ear like a mad child...🦋

    I am purposefully driven to water the soil to grow the seed that is already planted. 

  • Raj sundaram
    Raj sundaram Member Posts: 302 ✭✭✭✭

    I think we are on the same page that kindness and professionalism should be on separate tracks.

    Professionalism is necessary and obligatory, and lack of professionalism should have consequences. While kindness is optional.

    I have two problems.

    (1) In academia, I have seen people think that somehow professionalism amounts to kindness...as if being professional amounts to doing a favor (things as basic as keeping an appointment, turning up to a prescheduled meeting on time, providing basic resources to Ph.Ds/Postdocs, not stealing or reallocating credit in papers/patents - you know...the bare basics).

    (2) Lack of professionalism (small to big - microagressions to outright abuse) goes unchecked. There is no recourse for those low in power, no accountability for those above in the hierarchy - unless someone loses a limb, becomes blind or gets killed in a lab accident (sometimes, not even then....).

    I dont expect kindness, I wouldnt recommend anyone to expect kindness, because that would be disappointing. I do expect professionalism, everyone should expect professionalism, and unmet expectations of professionalims SHOULD have consequences. That is the way to create a fair system (and a real meritorcracy) that does not operate on "kill or be killed" or " so-called 'winners' take-all".

    "My hope is that kindness will become more appreciated and the widespread norm"

    My bar is lower. I hope professionalism becomes the widespread norm in academia. 🙄

    "I admire your ability to take in your stride the good and the bad"

    Thanks. 😊 That ability comes with life experience, like fish (have to) learn to swim - it is essential for survival. 😂

  • Raj sundaram
    Raj sundaram Member Posts: 302 ✭✭✭✭

    @Dahlia T - Awesome story!!! Yep - yummy warm or cold soup home-made with fresh ingredients including effort, warmth, concern, care and affection - delivered to the doorstep DESERVES a massive grin and teary eyes! And loads of hugs...🤗

    And yep - as a giver myself, I relate to what you say so well.

    And when real kindness is expressed, all doubts "Do I deserve it, whats behind it, am I weak?" melt away. You are fully deserving of the yummy soup and all that went into it! So so happy the angel of true kindness touched you with her soft wings...😍

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 242 ✭✭✭✭

    @Raj sundaram - yet another thread we see eye to eye on. I love to hear your perspectives and how eloquently you convey your thoughts. The word "disappointing" you use really does sum things up perfectly. The way kindness/professionalism combine and the things you say remind me of something @Andrea Hayward said in a post previously...where people find themselves lucky to have a supervisor who cares about them/who you can talk to. We shouldn't have to feel lucky that our emails are responded to or meetings aren't cancelled on us last minute, but we do because it isn't necessarily the norm (especially when hierarchy is involved!)

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 242 ✭✭✭✭

    @Dahlia T I love what you say about kindness in its purest form, I really like to believe it is out there and your story really shines a light on that. I too can be sceptical of people, particularly in the workplace, who do something nice for me..I feel there may be an expectation to return it. I think this stems from me growing up in a school where I didn't really have friends but people were nice to me in class because they thought I would help them with their work/let them copy. I am slowly coming out of those thoughts and seeing kindness as what it is, but as you say...it can be difficult to be the receiver of kindness when being the giver is much more comfortable.

    I hope you were able to enjoy your soup and feel the effects of the kindness shared :)

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 350 admin

    @Gustavo Arluna 3 things you said really resonated with me

    1. We need each other - So true!
    2. Being kind is not difficult at all ❤️ - I sincerely hope and wish that more people would realize this.
    3. Sometimes the most simplest phrases can go a long way to show kindness, let some know that you see them and acknowledge all that they do, and most importantly - that you genuinely care! 😊

    P.S. As you've probably noticed, I share your fondness for emoticons 😃

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 350 admin

    @Soumi Paul what a lovely story! Thank you so much for sharing it with us 🤗

    Being invited to share a meal with someone is always such a heartwarming experience, especially impromptu ones like this one! It almost feels like this was the universe's way of letting you know that they're watching and that they've got you back. LOVE it! 😍

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 350 admin
    edited July 12

    @Shruti Turner I'm so sorry it took me some time to jump in the discussion you started about "lollipop moments." But you're right - we're so in sync! I'm not sure how we're doing this but I love it 😄

    I love the short story you've shared about your experience with kindness on the first day of your PhD. Sometimes kindness takes the form of making people feel welcome and like they can be themselves around you, especially if they're new to a context or setting that you're already familiar with. Seems like the simplest thing ever and the least you'd expect from another person but it has such a significant impact on people as you've rightly pointed out.

    "Personally, I try to do the things for others that I think would have helped me" - Now, this is everything! I've seen so many people perpetuate flawed or even toxic cycles of interactions of relationships just because someone did it to them or they weren't welcomed properly, or they got the shorter end of the stick, and I just don't get it! If it's happened to you, you know exactly how it felt, so wouldn't you go out of your way to shield someone else from such a negative experience? It's very refreshing and quite beautiful actually to see that your approach is the complete opposite of this. I'm sure a lot of the newer folks in your lab are very grateful for you and they should be. They're very lucky to have you! 🤗

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 242 ✭✭✭✭

    No need to apologise @Andrea Hayward - the platform gets super busy! There's so much good content on the platform to get stuck into.

    You've really nicely phrased what I couldn't - why do people perpetuate their bad experiences but not their good? Exactly right, in that, it creates a toxic cycle. I find it so refreshing to be part of a community that is about sharing the positives and supporting. In fact, I am part of this one but also one that was set up for women in biomechanics which is a great place for support.

    Sometimes I find that communities can be set up as a symbol of good progress but whether they become too directive/cliquey in their webinars or in fact they fizzle out because no one seems to want to step out and be the first to change the environment. It's a difficult balance I'm sure, I understand the difficulties of such communities - what if my supervisor/someone in my lab etc. sees?

    I am touched you think so highly of me, @Andrea Hayward :) I don't know if they are grateful or not, but I hope at least that I'm not worsening their experiences!

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 350 admin
    edited July 12

    @Raj sundaram I agree that academia shouldn't be built on something like kindness and that the rules governing professionalism in academia should be deep-rooted in something else - a very thick moral foundation, and a career ladder who's growth doesn't depend on hyper-competitiveness, perhaps? You're also right to say that kindness is often taken advantage of in academia and that it might even feel like you're being punished for being kind at times, when it ends in betrayal or someone breaking your trust. I am terribly sorry to hear that you've been at the receiving end of experiences like these.

    I guess when I was thinking about kindness in academia, I wasn't thinking about it in terms of professional courtesy, but more in terms of being a good human. I think my distinction between the two is a lot like what @Shruti Turner has described above. But you've raised several valid points that have made me think about this more deeply. Thank you for always making me think! It's something I consider myself fortunate to have in a colleague and/or friend. 😊

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 350 admin

    @Dahlia T that you for sharing such an amazing experience with us! I'm running out of words to express the reaction I had when I read your comment but it's safe to say that it was a mix of a jaw-drop, moist eyes, and goosebumps. What a kind soul your colleague is! The fact that your colleague took the time to go buy fresh ingredients, make soup from scratch and bring it back to you shows how much warmth and care went into that preparation. And I'm with @Raj sundaram on this one - You are more than deserving of the yummy soup, the gesture, the kindness, and all the effort that went into it. 🤗

    P.S. I hope you're feeling better now

  • Gustavo Arluna
    Gustavo Arluna Member Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    @Andrea Hayward I am glad to read your answer. I also agree with you when you mention in one of your answers that you were focusing more on being "a good human". That's what I meant, too. I think we can be kind while maintaining a rigorous professional behavior, too. In my job, electrical certification, I have to be very professional as it is very important to analyze electrical products for being safe and not be a source of danger in common houses. So, I am kind with people in laboratories, clients, etc., but when something is not safe I just reject it kindly. 😊 Of course, at that point some clients will lose their kindness when realizing that are about to lose money😅🤭 Although that example wasn't related to academic life, I think it can be extrapolated to other areas.


    P.S.: #EmojiTeam💪😁

  • Raj sundaram
    Raj sundaram Member Posts: 302 ✭✭✭✭

    True dat, @Andrea Hayward . Forgot to comment on the @Soumi Paul 's heartwarming story on kind strangers. Often it's strangers who turn out to be kind than those closer. 🤔 Guess something involved with expectations and stakes involved. 🙃

  • Raj sundaram
    Raj sundaram Member Posts: 302 ✭✭✭✭

    @Andrea Hayward : Bad experiences - partly mine, partly observed.🙂

    Yes - a thick moral foundation is a good start. However, what we need is concrete rules on what constitutes that moral foundation - because moral is a fuzzy word. No one is asking academia to re-invent anything or go off into philosophical musings of the relativism of "good and evil". Which I am sure, academics would love to do! Being specialists in overthinking and armchair lounging - creativity. The place is full of very very clever people, after all. 😂

    What academia needs is a structure with basic rules, accountability, checks and balances, and training - all drawn from pretty standard HR management and labour practices in business and industry (of course, not to say that predatory behavior doesnt happen there...but there are at least SOME rules). What is needed is a movement akin to how universities started taking lab safety seriously...installing safety officers/procedures/risk assessments/ethics assessments/safety training/accident reports, etc. I think a similar move needs to happen in all other facets of academic life.🙄

  • Soumi Paul
    Soumi Paul Member Posts: 137 ✭✭✭✭

    Truly. And that's why I believe in the miracle, magic, and all such fantasy words. Because miracle even saved me from the near-fatal condition. So, I truly believe supreme energy is really watching over me to show me the right road.

  • Hong Ching Goh
    Hong Ching Goh Member Posts: 17 ✭✭

    @andreadyanne azores you always come up with great ideas for discussion!

    Kindness is everywhere really, a morning in a market, not sure what to buy for breakfast and someone gave a suggestion, looking at my undecisive and confused face, rather than impatiently starring at me hoping I could do my decision faster! At work, someone just drop by and say hello, drop a message or bring me a breakfast! I don't mind having the second breakfast AT ALL. Seeing someone giving the street cats or dogs food is something that always warm my heart.

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