Valentine’s Day can bring up a lot: hopeful expectations, outsized feelings of responsibility, dread, excitement, and more. Words of kindness can help navigate all of these issues and more every day of the year.

Not just for special occasions, words of kindness can change the course of a meeting, a day or sometimes, even a whole life. But don’t be fooled – kind words are not sugary fabrications meant to woo or wow someone temporarily. Words of kindness come from a deep sense of appreciation, empathy, and awareness. Try on one or more of the approaches to kindness below as a sort of Valentine to the world and keep the momentum going all year long.

Keep It Simple

Words of kindness need not be flowery, delivered in iambic pentameter, or posted to a billboard. A simple “You were masterful in that meeting,” or “You handled that conflict with such grace,” or “Your passion for this project is really inspiring,” is all you need.

Express Gratitude

In our rush to be productive, get to the next appointment and knock “to-dos” off the list, we often forget to say thank you. The next time you see someone filling the copier up with paper, getting the lunch order, or helping a colleague, show some appreciation. A quick “Thank you for taking care of that,” will do the trick. Don’t get wrapped up in long explanations – this isn’t about you, it’s about them. Straightforward and direct is the way to go.

The Kindness of Silence

When someone has a rough moment and needs to regroup, rather than rushing in to dissect the situation or diverting them with a flood of words, consider silence. Keeping yourself busy but available and giving them space may be one of the kindest things you can do for a person recovering from a stumble – social or otherwise.

Give the Benefit

Kindness shows up in many ways and not all of them are audible. Just giving another person the benefit of the doubt can be incredibly kind. Life can throw some rough punches and we don’t always make great decisions when we’re under pressure or distracted. If you can tell yourself that a slight, an oversight, or a mistake wasn’t intentional, you’re saving yourself some stress and helping out the other party as well.

Honesty is Kind

There are a multitude of ways to be brutal with honesty. Make a different choice. Even the most basic bad news is better delivered with kindness. Look for empathy and exercise your EQ. Your honesty is a gift and so much better than false reassurances or embroidered truths.

Your words have power. Use them to create the world in which you want to live.

Talk to you next week,

Amber D. Nelson

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