Today's blog in the #BeTheRippleBlogs series is a thought-provoking piece from Gethin Nadin entitled 'Real Change Comes from Within, Not in Hashtags'.
Gethin is a frequent speaker and writer on the subjects of global employee engagement, HR, the employee experience, employee benefits and financial wellbeing. We are extremely proud that he is also a Champion Rippler for the #BeTheRipple movement.
Yesterday was Gethin's 40th birthday, so the whole team would like to take another opportunity to wish him a fantastic decade ahead - having already achieved so much, we look forward to seeing what's to come in the future for you, Gethin!
You can find him on LinkedIn: Here and also on Twitter: @WorldofGoodBook
Over to Gethin:
Real Change Comes from Within, Not in Hashtags
One of my first ever public blogs was about kindness at work – a long time before ‘Be Kind’ was a hashtag. In the article I talked about the growing body of evidence that creating a kinder workplace wasn’t just about doing the right thing, it made business case. Dr Noelle Nelson said many years ago “you put the compassion first and the profits will follow”. A little less cutthroat and a little more arm around shoulder was then the latest trend in achieving higher growth. But I think we have yet to work out what ‘Be Kind’ actually means. Especially since the hashtag has been used by well-known celebrities who have mocked non-binary people, distilled mental health to ‘whining’ and supported racists. The death of Caroline Flack appeared to be the point at which a confused nation tried to work out what being kind meant when those responsible for hounding and antagonising Flack were suddenly calling for more kindness online.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been sent a tweet by someone using the hashtag #BeKind who has demonstrated unkindness. Shouting at employees so much they make them cry, letting someone know they’re being let go over email, failing to take mental health seriously and forcing them to use annual leave for their father’s funeral. None of these are kind things to do someone, yet just months after doing these things people have been telling others to ‘Be Kind’. I’ve had people direct anger at me online because they didn’t think I was being kind and I’ve never actually used the hashtag. I was called ‘Unkind’ because I called out someone’s poor LinkedIn sales message. To be fair to me, they called me by a different name and had clearly mail merged the message, but calling it lazy was unkind apparently.
I don’t think I’m unkind. In fact, I try very hard to be the opposite and I might not always get that right, but being kind shouldn’t mean we can't criticise others. This platitude of unwavering kindness regardless of what is happening or who that person is confusing to me. Saying ‘Be Kind’ or signing up to a kindness movement in itself means nothing. We could all do with being more compassionate, more patient and more understanding, but just saying those words does nothing to understand the complex nature of other people’s lives, social media and our modern interactions. It’s time we stopped confusing valid criticism with being unkind and instead focus on what we are doing to make the world - and work - a better place. If you’ve signed up to #BeTheRipple, you’ve started that journey… but it is just a start. Real change comes from within, not in hashtags.
Thank you so much to Gethin for sharing this thought-provoking piece. It certainly made me reflect. After I read the piece, I contacted Gethin and told him how I'd recently been caught in a dilemma with regard to the areas of kindness versus valid feedback. Kindness is something I am hugely passionate about, as is speaking up if something is unkind/unfair, this can on occasion leave all of us in a difficult position as to what the best response is in different situations - it's a delicate balance.
I'd love to know what your thoughts are around this topic and I'd also love you to join our movement. If you are not yet a member of the #BeTheRipple community, we would love you to join us. You can find us on Twitter: @BeTheRipple2020 and/or in our LinkedIn community: Here
Thank you once again to Gethin for sharing this piece - totally agree that real change comes from within, not in hashtags.
If you would like to submit a blog for this series, please send your work via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or send to me via LinkedIn.
You can find PDFs of all blog pieces: