Kindness People: Antoinette Raymond
The Human Kind series is very glad to interview Antoinette Raymond about her insights on kindness. Antoinette is an Organisational Psychologist and Business Scientist.
3 things Antoinette is about:
- The psychology of disruption and discipline (in business strategy and transformation)
- The fact that with clarity and focus you can release potential
- Power and beauty of age – because there is power and beauty at every age!
So lets hear from Antoinette:
What has been one of your most unforgettable kindness moments?
“I am one of those people that would rather come into work ill and poorly vs. calling in sick rather than letting anyone down by not showing up for work.
So imagine my fear to have to inform a valuable client that I was unable to make a workshop I was scheduled to facilitate. A week long workshop that had been scheduled a year earlier. A workshop involving 25+ high flyer managers, 10+ senior executives and a variety of entourage these types of things include.
Never mind that it was because one of my IVF treatments had failed and they wanted me to do my next one immediately. Hence my need to stay in the States vs. fly back to the UK to facilitate this one week session. Never mind my fragile emotional state and body pumped with intense hormones.
“I was petrified to let the client know”
Ready for the salt in the wound? The client was new in the role and this was my first time to meet her. Her predecessor was someone I had known for many years and knew my work ethic and professionalism. And the fabulous admin staff that I told first about my need to reschedule the workshop warned me that the new client was not best pleased.
“My biggest fears were realized. I was letting her down”
I was able to get her mobile number in an attempt to explain to her, voice-to-voice, my reasons. I caught her after work, on her way to her parked car and pleaded for a moment of her time. She said she was glad I called because she was VERY disappointed in my need to reschedule and wanted to discuss it. Once in her car, she proceeded to say she couldn’t understand how this could happen… so many people’s schedules were affected… and did I have any idea of the repercussions of my pulling out.
I kept my voice calm (trying to not cry, which you know the ‘not trying’ makes it even harder to hold the tears back).
I said that (1) I was deeply sorry for having to change things and inconvenience so many people, (2) My professionalism and work ethic were everything to me and (3) I wanted to share with her the very personal reasons why I would feel the need to reschedule the workshops.
She sighed (quite loudly) and said ‘go ahead’ but she only have a few minutes as she needed to drive home.
I proceeded to tell her about my struggle with infertility and that I was in the midst of multiple failed IVF attempts. I didn’t sugar coat it. I simply said what was happening.
“The line went completely dead. I thought I’d lost the cellular connection. And the next moment shocked me to my core”
She sniffled and that was when I realised she was crying. She shared with me that she had never told anyone about her struggles with infertility. And whilst she was going through her very difficult treatments, never did she feel she could share her pain in the workplace, even when it was affecting work. She then told me about her beautiful twins of 6 years old and how they were worth all the pain, heartache and struggle.
She then started immediately discussing how the dates could be changed. Asking when she thought I’d be available, given my IVF process cycle, talking through the logistics, etc.
I, through my tears, thanked her quietly and profusely. Her complete turnaround and kindness floored me. She ‘held’ me in her words and ensured that my being honest with her would now get me the professional objective I wanted which was to balance both my personal struggle with doing the best for my clients.
“To this day, that moment still takes my breath away”
In your view, is kindness linked to a growth mindset?
“If kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate (e.g. treating people with ‘kindness’ and respect). Then kindness exists only when interacting with OTHERS”
Therefore, being able to know what it is going to take to be friendly, generous and considerate to OTHERS – necessitates the desire and ability to LEARN what the OTHER person might need. True kindness doesn’t simply come from using the same brush stroke with everyone or believing that one tool fits all times necessitating kindness. For an act to be considered kind to the RECEIVER, means that the giver was kind in a manner that the RECIEVER wanted and/or needed at that moment. That takes a growth mindset mentality – believing that I can, with effort and strategy, learn what is needed in different situations.
A fixed mindset, on the other hand, suggests that my abilities / intellect are fixed – that there are some things I can do and some I won’t ever be able to do. True acts of kindness usually entail the giver flexing, learning and accommodating their words or behaviours such that they can impact the receiver in a way that will be perceived and taken as an act of kindness.
A fixed mindset often avoids putting themselves in challenging situations, not liking to put in the effort.
“Kindness is ALL about effort – for the other”
Is it possible to apply kindness in your work life vs your private life?
There is a growing body of research that suggests that companies that have kindness ‘baked’ into their culture are both more productive and profitable
(Hive article by Chantal Sheehan) ” How Kindness Boosts Your Bottom Line”
“As an organisational psychologist, this has face validity for me in that if kindness begets positivity and better relationships, we know that both those are critical in the workforce (growth mindset + highly effective teams = increased productivity)”
So is it GOOD to apply kindness in your work life? Yes.
Is it HARD to apply kindness in your work like? Yes. Kindness can be often mis-interpreted as weakness.
Is it POSSIBLE to apply kindness in your work life? Again, yes. It is, however, easier if the company culture engenders and rewards kindness. But if it doesn’t? I absolutely believe you, as an individual, can always apply kindness in all your behaviours – in and out of work.
Again, if kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate (e.g. treating people with ‘kindness’ and respect). Then to be kind at work, make a choice to be kind. Ensure your intent and behaviours are:
- Friendly in nature (open and honest, inclusive and inviting vs. back stabbing, purposefully not including others, etc.)
- Generous (working from the model of abundance – knowing that the more you give away, e.g. ideas, power, time – the more you get back from other vs. the model of scarcity where you feel if you give any idea, power, etc. away, you have less power, less ideas, less time) and
- Considerate (Respectful of people’s time, attention, physical and mental space vs. talking over people in meetings, ignoring other’s input, not including the names of those who have helped or participated in a piece of work, etc.)
What does better eating mean to you and what is your favourite healthy dish?
“Better eating to me means putting into my body that which my body LOVES.
It loves cleaner food, more proteins, less ‘white’ (sugar, flour, salt), tons of veggies and oh so much water!
“But moderation is also critical to my definition of ‘better’ eating. Because my body LOVES a great glass of wine, hot sourdough bread and coffee – oh so much coffee. But not too much of any of these”
My favorite healthy dish is a huge salad with fresh greens, ripe tomatoes, crisp cucumber, tangy chopped scallions, lovely cheese, toasted nuts and a big dose of protein. Yum!”