For years, I thought that a key to being a good leader was to treat your staff with kindness. That’s not wrong, but research into various personality profiles (such as enneagram and DISC) have shown me that “kind” is different depending on who you’re talking to.
An old business coach of ours laid it out clearly. In his world, he knew that he should spend 10 minutes with Stacey every morning just catching up with life and discussing “stuff”, as she enjoyed that kind of interaction. However, with Rachel he needed to be in and out in 30 seconds, as she found empty small talk to largely be a waste of time. In his example, treating both of them with kindness meant very different approaches.
In his book “Twelve and a Half“, Gary Vaynerchuk simply says this:
“Kindness is based on the recipient’s terms. Not yours.”
That’s it. If you truly want to show kindness to someone, it’s their interpretation of “kind” that matters, not yours.
For some people, that means spending more time with them. For others, it’s about the quality of the time instead of the quantity.
If you’re wanting to help someone in need, sometimes money is the best thing you can offer. In other cases it might be giving up a day to help them move.
Situations are different. If you really want to show kindness, find out what really matters to the recipient.