Permission to Be Kind

Permission to Be Kind

I love the ‘Most Emailed’ and ‘Most Viewed’ features of The New York Times website. (In fact, I love the whole site … one of the few truly how-are-they-able-to-do-all-this-wonderful-work sites I know of.)

Over Father’s Day weekend, one of the top 3 (and sometimes number 1) articles in both categories was ‘No Time to Be Nice at Work‘ by Christine Porath (an associate business professor at Georgetown University).

After reading it, I sent a link to it to my kids in an effort to plant some seeds. They’re 21, almost 18, and 14.5.

The subject line was ‘for father’s day.’ I thought I’d take advantage of a little I-should-do-it-for-dad leverage and asked them to read it and take notes on it. I also let them know we’d discuss it as a family … sharing what they thought was interesting, surprising, and possibly flawed.

My goal was to reinforce the importance of kindness (from someone other than dad … it’s tough to be my kid given what I do).

It was also to shine a light on the value of practicing self-awareness and our personal responsibility to each other wherever we are and whatever role we’re in. (I’m not a fan of the way the author seems to focus on the lack of kindness and civility in the workplace as something only bosses are missing. It’s an everyone thing, in my opinion.)

My final hope was that they might question the methodology of the studies and surveys highlighted in the article … not just accepting the numbers as facts. (I agree with several of the author’s points and theories but can’t see how some things can be so neatly quantified.)

Then I thought … we should make a quick meeting out of it here at for all the same reasons.

Which, of course, led to sharing it with you.

Love Your People Booklets. (5 minutes to better relationships.) Click here to learn more.

It’s a 10-minute read. Add 10 minutes for personal review by everyone and then discuss it for 15-20 minutes. A great little meaningful meeting to remind everyone that we’re human and that being kind, patient, and warm (Loving Our People and Smiling & Moving) is not only more enjoyable … it also makes better things happen for everyone.

Read the article here.

Discussion starter questions…

  1. Who can share the main point of the article?
  2. What 1 thing did you find most interesting? (1 thing increases the chances for more group involvement.)
  3. Who else would like to share their 1 thing?
  4. Does anyone have something to share that surprised them?
  5. Who can share something they disagreed with?
  6. How did you feel about the thought where the author said [INSERT A POINT YOU WANT TO HIGHLIGHT]?


  1. While on the one hand I found this opinion piece to be valuable enough to share (with my family, my team, and you), I also found myself asking why we need to continually question the value of what we know to be good. Why do we need another study or survey to prove what we already know? Kindness. Warmth. Civility. Care. All of these make sense. Each invites relationships, opportunities, and ideas, which drive better results and more enjoyment for everyone. (The answer on the studies and surveys … my guess is that we need to keep asking questions to be sure we don’t miss discovering new challenges and new solutions that move us forward.)
  2. How many of the author’s quoted statistics won’t be questioned by readers and then shared with others as facts?
  3. The mention of the surgeon’s new self-awareness caught me. A couple of decades ago, I sold to surgeons and remember how rude some of them were to the people they worked with. Given the role and the way they’re trained, I can see how it happens to some (see The Boss Complex).
  4. I loved the reminder from the retired judge and the way the author put it, “Juries were swayed based on thin slices of civil or arrogant behavior.” Thin slices … nice! At the top end, so many times it’s those small details that make all the difference (very 212).
  5. I also loved that one of our larger customers (Ochsner Health System) was mentioned in a positive light. They’ve Crossed The Line!
  6. “What about the jerks who seem to succeed despite being rude and thoughtless? Those people have succeeded despite their incivility, not because of it.” I love this way of looking at it.