Kindness matters at Babel
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everything it has touched. The economy, our communities, our mental health. It has also highlighted the need for kindness, which is especially important now. From the difference small acts of kindness like helping our elderly neighbours can make, to the impact of kindness in lifting national spirits. As such, kindness was chosen as the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020.
The benefits of kindness are endless: it is good for your heart, actually changing chemicals in our bodies to produce a hormone called oxytocin which is also known as the ‘cardioprotective hormone’. And it is contagious, which means one act of kindness will lead to another, and then another.
With this in mind, the Babel team shared their thoughts on what kindness means for them, and examples of where they’ve seen acts of kindness during lockdown.
What does kindness mean to you?
Ian Hood, CEO:
“For me, in a business environment, it means caring more about what makes people happy and motivated, than the work that can extracted from them. It’s a selfish thing really – I’m miserable if everyone else is.”
Jenny Mowat, Managing Director:
“For me, kindness is thinking about others before yourself. It’s asking more than ‘are you OK?’. Proactively doing nice things that don’t have to be big gestures; just something small to say, ‘you are great, thank you’. And thinking about the bigger picture beyond the bubble we move in.”
Ed Cooper, Account Manager:
“Kindness is an awareness of others, their state of mind and their wellbeing, and an inclination to act in a way that nurtures these aspects of their psyches. It is the simplest act of human goodness.”
Sarah Alonze, Director:
“Kindness doesn’t have to be some overtly grandiose gesture. It can be a simple smile to a stranger on the bus. It can be making a colleague a cup of tea when they’re feeling low. It can be lending an ear or a helping hand when things get tough. It can be the act of listening, understanding and empathising when the world feels a little too heavy for a friend. It can even be not beating ourselves up when things don’t quite go our way.
“Kindness in action creates warmth, generates good feeling and is infectious. Buddhists believe that kindness is the antidote to suffering; that it’s more important to be kind than to be right. So, if we could all just set aside our egos, and be a little bit kinder to ourselves and to one another, the good vibes we spark could make the world a better place.”
Declan Bradshaw, Account Manager:
“Treat others as you would want to be treated. Make a point of noticing small things and doing small things back. Kindness does not have to be grand gestures.”
Paul Campbell, Associate Director:
“Going above and beyond the norm to give something back to someone. My old next-door neighbour got my daughter, Isla a very nice gift when she was born, despite not being very well off. They got a lot of delight from giving it to her.”
Holly Ashford, Senior Content Manager:
“Asking a question/remembering something/behaving in a way that you know someone else will acknowledge and appreciate, without an expectation of need/for a show gratitude.
Katie Finn, Associate Director:
“I think at its core kindness is about empathy and action. Empathy in understanding what someone’s individual circumstances are, what makes them happy or sad, and then using that empathy to inform how you treat people – what will make someone smile and feel cared for? How can you be looking after someone if they’re having a tough time? What can you do to make that person’s world a nicer place to be? In these times where connecting in person is hard, it is vital that we don’t lose sight of that kindness, and we find ways to support both the people in our lives and our wider society. Whether that’s volunteering with a charity, checking in on a vulnerable relative, or sending a letter to a friend having a hard time, we all need to look after each other so we can get through these tough times together.”
Simon Coughlin, Senior Account Director:
“With all our working and personal lives having been impacted by the pandemic, small acts of kindness have been invaluable over the past few weeks. Any parent who has had to balance working at home while helping children to study will fully appreciate that it does not always run smoothly. As a Dad of three, I have seen a few examples of kindness from my own children that have brought a smile to my face and helped to relieve times of stress. On one particularly busy working day my daughter brought me a homemade biscuit and smoothie, while on another occasion my son surprised me with a ‘thank you’ card for helping him with a school project. It is these small gestures, coming completely out of the blue, which have helped to brighten my day.”
Recent examples of kindness
Dan Parris, PR & Digital Marketing Manager:
“A friend of mine had some leftover food she had cooked and so offered it to the man who lives on the floor below. He was incredibly grateful and invited her and her housemate for a nice, socially distanced chat. It turns out he is an artist and lives and works in his studio, surrounded by lots of great artwork. London can be a lonely place and my friend said it felt nice to do something kind.”
Jenny Mowat, MD:
“On my road we set up a network of helpers to run errands, collect prescriptions, deliver food etc for anyone in need. We posted the details and contact number to everyone on the street and it has been so nice to connect with people I’ve never met since living there for four years, whilst also helping those in need.”
Narelle Morrison, COO:
“My daughter Holly created a kindness package as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. It did also contain some chocolate, but we decided to eat it!”
If this hasn’t convinced you about the super-powers of kindness, there are stories, research, resources – and even a guide on being kind – which you can read on the Mental Health Foundation’s website. Stay safe.