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Be Kind – Make Covid Better

We are living in a weird, crazy time. It may feel scary to go into a restaurant or a store, let alone to work. People are wondering if it’s safe to fly, return to their offices, or visit family and friends. There is so much uncertainty and so many unknowns. People are anxious and stressed.

I can see and feel the stress when I go to the grocery store. My neighborhood store didn’t feel particularly friendly before Covid. Fellow shoppers would run you over with their cart if it appeared you were going to beat them to the last bag of organic, gluten-free, paleo-friendly, vegan, sustainably-sourced chips. But now it’s much worse. People shopping in the store understandably want to get in and out as soon as possible. Other people are obstacles, like moving, orange cones pushing carts. Long lines are stressful. You can’t tell if a masked person smiles or silently growls at you.

During these uncertain, scary, and unpredictable times I think we need to go out of our way to demonstrate kindness.

I’ll admit that I am the person always in a rush, often on the phone at the checkout counter (I hate when people do that, even though I do it too), sometimes not making meaningful eye contact. But lately I’m making more of an effort – saying hello to strangers I pass, when I normally wouldn’t, making it obvious I’m smiling at a person under my mask, even telling people, “I know you can’t tell, but I’m smiling at you.” I’m asking hospitality workers how they’re doing, what it’s like to be working in a coffee shop or a grocery store, and what makes a customer respectful during this scary and uncertain time. And I’m listening more closely to their answers.

It’s harder to see kindness right now because a mask conceals so much. It also allows me not to wear makeup, which I’m grateful for. But people can’t interpret my intentions behind my mask. They can’t see if I’m friendly, happy, or irritated. I have to go out of my way to demonstrate how I feel and what I mean in ways I never have before.

Here are five ways you can demonstrate kindness:

  1. Tell people you appreciate that they’re working (in an environment that may feel risky from a health perspective).
  2. Ensure your tone is friendly and patient.
  3. Tell people overtly how you feel. “I’m not irritated, this mask just makes me look cranky.” “I’m smiling at you. Thank you for the good service.”
  4. Wait patiently, versus sighing and rolling your eyes, if there is a long wait for customer service or an answer to a question.
  5. Follow the posted rules for distancing and masks. Following the posted guidelines makes everyone feel more at ease.

Be overt. Make your positive feelings known. Put someone else at ease. And this ‘thing’ will feel better.

Coming next week:  You asked. We answered. Next week’s tip and blog: How to work well with others virtually.

About 

Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at www.candidculture.com.

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2 Responses to “Be Kind – Make Covid Better”

  1. Enid says:

    Just the other week I was in a virtual staff meeting were we vented about our feelings of working remotely, stressors, changes we have seen in our daily lives etc. I remember sharing with my colleagues, that every time I meet with someone virtually I think the person in the other side is probably as anxious and stressed as I am…or perhaps more. I try to remember that, be kind and understanding ’cause I’m sure grateful when someone has patience with me.

  2. Joni Rogers says:

    Hello Shari: Our school puts out a Daily Refreshment – email communication to all employees, students, and parents. I would like to share this article with them and will be sure to include your bio, About Shari Harley, if approved.

    Thank you.
    Joni Rogers,
    Assistant Director of HR
    Springs Charter Schools

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