Americans agree on the need for more kindness. A survey published in November 2013 found that almost half (48%) of Americans view US society as unkind. The survey also found that 58% of Americans feel that US culture in general, including public figures, the media and their own community, does not place a high value on kindness. On an interesting note, 95% of Americans in the study described themselves as kind, even while viewing US society as unkind in general.

When in traffic if we cut others off or otherwise drive in an inconsiderate manner, we are telling others they do not matter to us and that we don’t care about them. We are also making a statement about the kind of inconsiderate person we are. When we cut in line, argue over minor matters, or ignore others needs we are also making a statement about what kind of people we are and about how little others matter to us. We are being unkind. When we fail to go above and beyond the expectations of others we are telling them exactly how little we care about them. Kindness demands that those of us in health care help the lost patient figure out where to go and who to see – and then help them get there. Escort them to the right person and conduct a “warm handoff”. Hospitals can be scary and confusing places – why not show a little personal warmth and attention?

Kindness also demands that we treat others with respect and professionalism, even when we get a caller who was transferred to the wrong extension or is being rude. Kindness demands that we understand that others may be upset or having a bad day and yet we still respond with kindness — even when others are out of line. We love people over to our point of view and we love them until they can’t help but respect us.

Ron Hill