In these days of COVID waves, restrictions, requirements, and daily news of stressful world events and social and civil unrest, let's remember to start with kindness in our interactions.
What has your experience of being on set lately?
From what we’re hearing from members, union stewards and staff, our collective reserves of patience, resilience, and well-being are depleted, with symptoms of burnout prevalent in our sector. The result is that people’s fatigue, impatience, frustration, and even anger, seem to be increasing – with outbursts, conflicts, and challenging behaviours on the rise.
So, what is the answer?
Considering all this, how can we continue to ensure our workplaces, locations, and studios are safe and supportive environments for ourselves and those we work with?
There is, of course, no one easy answer. Strategies such as self-care, counselling, accessing support, taking vacation time, and getting physically active, are just a few of the ways we can take care of ourselves and build our personal resilience
Out of all this complexity, however, there is one simple yet profound behaviour that has proven to both soften and strengthen workplace cultures – and that is Kindness.
A small act of kindness can go a long way to making someone's day lighter.
Isn’t Kindness just “fluff”?
Kindness is a simple concept — too simple, one might be inclined to think, to provide a solution to the complex and serious challenges we face daily in work.
However, Making Kindness a Priority in the Workplace, a 2019 Forbes Article by Dr. Pragya Agarwal, reveals a study that demonstrated how acts of kindness within a real-life working environment created a positive ripple that affected the whole workplace culture. The study showed that generosity and kindness propagates and spreads throughout a group or environment. For both the ‘givers’ and ‘receivers’, acts of kindness however small and insignificant they might have seemed, acted as a buffer - even during a period of stress and difficult work conditions.
“Acts of kindness are also contagious. There was an increasing amount of "prosocial" behavior with employees feeling that they were part of a unit and a workplace that looked after them and cared about them. People not only reciprocated the acts of kindness by taking the initiative to find out who had been kind to them but also paid it forward to others, thereby spreading the feeling of generosity. (Dr P Agarwal, Forbes, 2019).
Personal Benefits of Kindness
Did you know that your brain is hard-wired to respond to kindness? Olivia McIvor, author and expert on kindness in the workplace explains, “two positive hormones, Oxytocin and Dopamine are produced and released when someone is kind or compassionate. Both of these positive hormones support us to feel more bonded with others, more trustworthy and relaxed” Other mental, emotional and physical benefits include:
Boosts your immune system
Normalizes blood pressure
Lowers stress & depression
Speeds recovery from illness
Acts as a positive contagion
Heightens our state of well-being, reducing burnout
Improves quality of co-worker relationships & connections
Increases happiness and productivity, and lowers anxiety”
Three Themes of Kindness
Olivia McIvor outlines the tree key themes, or focus, for acts of kindness:
Self Kindness - Being kind to oneself means that you treat yourself as a close friend. This is about considering your own needs and being proactive to create a healthy and vibrant lifestyle.
Collegial Kindness - You consciously choose to practice non-judgement, and to reach out to those around you with empathy, thoughtfulness and understanding. Your objective is clear and enables you to be supportive and respectful to enrich the lives of others.
Community Kindness - You take responsibility to identify where you have the power to influence and help create positive change. Kindness in the community inspires you to actively pay-it-forward whenever possible.
A quote to contemplates asks,
“If someone where to pay you 10 cents for every kind word you spoke and collect five cents for every unkind word, would you be richer or poorer?”
Take the kindness challenge and in the next 48 hours commit an act of kindness for yourself, a colleague, or your community and see how good you feel.
Let’s “turn-the tide” on set from discord to kindness and support, creating an environment where we assume the best of each other, and treat each other with kindness.
Mental Wellness: Self-Compassion Workshop
We are always our own worst critics, but it can be especially true for those working in the entertainment industry. Stakes are high when work is precarious and your identity is so closely tied to your professional life.
The workshop, hosted by The AFC, will provide you with crucial skills in self-compassion and give perspective on why it is so important. Together, you will work through self-kindness, validation, self-protection, and providing for ourselves. The workshop will also discuss useful tools and strategies to help build and practice self-compassion.
Wednesday, October 19, 2022, 3:30 – 4:30 pm (ET) on Zoom
Olivia McIvor: Author, speaker, Organizational Development Specialist, RCC Coach, Educator, www.organizationalculturegroup.com, www.Kindness-speaks.com. Author of “The Business of Kindness: Twelve Habits That Build Collaborative” and “Turning Compassion into Action: A Movement Toward Responsibility”.
Dr. Pragya Agarwal: Award-winning author of 'SWAY: Unravelling Unconscious Bias', behavioural scientist and two-time TEDx speaker, and founder of a research think-tank '50 Percent Project'. Article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/pragyaagarwaleurope/2019/08/26/making-kindness-a-priority-in-the-workplace/?sh=66f02cba38f4