Civil discourse has gone the way of the dodo bird during the past few years fueled by in no small part by toxic talk shows and the vituperative tirades of our Commander in Chief.
Even his most ardent supporters admit that President Trump has set a tone of nastiness and name calling that is shocking.
Or is it?
Has it gotten to the point where nasty is the new norm?
Will people who are kind be seen as saps to be taken advantage of rather than appreciated and rewarded?
Like all cultural trends, rudeness has snuck up on us. It has oozed its way into the way we interact with one another, eroding standards of politeness and respect that existed for eons.
I don’t just mean that people in America and around the world are in an insult-hurling frenzy. I mean that people are being less kind to one another.
We’re suddenly too lazy or in too much of a hurry to be thoughtful.
We’ve forgotten how to be kind.
I see that thoughtless behavior creeping into the nonprofit sector which bothers me to no end because we are supposed to embody what is meant by “civil society.”
And if nonprofits aren’t practicing daily acts of kindness, who is?
For heaven’s sake, why can’t nonprofit leaders:
Let job applicants know that they’ve received their resumes (and when decisions will be made)?
Provide staff with real benefits – in whatever form is feasible – that demonstrate an appreciation of their work and dedication?
Thoughtfully, promptly and appropriately thank their donors?
Sincerely recognize volunteer and board leaders for their service?
Yes, there’s been an avalanche of #metoo-level incivility and protests, marches that alternatively celebrate and condemn hate speech, and all manner of heated talk. And all of that discourse is funneled through the silos of our curated news sources, houses of worship, and friendship networks.
Which makes the task of being thoughtful and kind that much more important (and, at times, harder to do).
It’s nearly impossible to imagine what it’s like to be someone who is a different age, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation/identity which makes it that much more difficult to fully understand people who aren’t like us.
But the truth is, we don’t have to “get” who people are, in the truest sense, in order to be kind to them.
We can simply show kindness, respect, thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and compassion to everyone.
And we must.
Especially as nonprofit leaders whose work is all about striving to do good in the world.
So start in small ways. And keep going.
Start the revolution.
Pat Libby is a management consultant to nonprofits and philanthropies. She has served as an academic, senior executive, board member, and consultant to innumerable nonprofit organizations and foundations since 1978.
Get in touch if you have any questions about spreading kindness (or managing nonprofits)!