Kindness is an Identity Detector!

Kindness Personal leadership Respect


Key Point: I recently had a chance to listen to employees’ stories that defined a memorable connection with customers and/or other co-workers. What made the stories worth remembering? In every case there was something much deeper than “service,” “responsiveness,” “quality” or other surface explanations. The underlying basis for a meaningful bridge built between two people was based on empathy, understanding, and ultimately a remarkable act of KINDNESS. This caused me to dig a little for a more complete explanation. Please note some research that may help us better appreciate the power of virtue, especially kindness, pertaining to advancing relationships:

“Moral features are the chief dimension by which we judge, sort and choose social partners. For men and women alike, the single most sought-after trait in a long-term romantic partner is kindness – beating out beauty, wealth, health, shared interests, even intelligence.”

“And while we often think of our friends as the people who are uniquely matched to our shared personality, moral character plays the largest role in determining whether you like someone or not (what social psychologists call impression formation), and predicts the success and longevity of these bonds. Virtues are mentioned with more frequency in obituaries than achievements, abilities or talents. This is even the case for obituaries of notable luminaries, people who are being written about because of their accomplishments, not their moral fiber.”

“‘Know thyself’ is a flimsy bargain-basement platitude, endlessly recycled but maddeningly empty. It skates the very existential question it pretends to address, the question that obsesses us: What is it to know oneself? The lesson of the identity detector is this: when we dig deep, beneath our memory traces and career ambitions and favorite authors and small talk, we find a constellation of moral capacities. This is what we should cultivate and burnish, if we want people to know who we really are.”

I would add… Consistently acting on who we are, is really knowing ourselves. 

And of course that’s why I believe so strongly in the Character Triangle’s three elements (they’re not perfection but the sincere pursuit of it). They are virtues so vital to our identity and relationships.  My short form and most accessible description of The Character Triangle is: Do it now, Be Kind, Give More.

Character Moves: 

  1. Are you consistently kind? I realize, especially after receiving some candid feedback regarding my kindness identity this weekend, I can do much better on this virtue. Kindness is NOT soft and it is an extension of really showing we care; not just saying we do. I see it is a key sub element of RESPECT and we are unlikely capable of being fully progressed on the respect scale without being unconsciously and consistently kind. 
  2. I lived on the beachside strand in Hermosa Beach, LA. It was an incredible spot. I walked by it for nostalgic reasons recently and noticed the well worn, imbedded sign, quoting the great John Wooden, at the corner of the wall that surrounds the home. I walked by the sign every day for more than a year, and probably even read it a few times. Now some 20 plus years later I’m more capable and committed to honoring the message that was waiting there for me all this time.


Consistent kindness in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: One of my favorite podcast hosts routinely gives advice to the degree of, “It’s just so much easier to be nice than not.” I agree with this. And frankly, it boils down to acknowledging that it’s a lot of B.S. busy work to be rude. Think of the effort needed to be “mean” versus just, “nice.” Yeah, yeah, everyone and their mom hears, “nice guys finish last,” (except your mom tells you to be nice anyways). Fine. But really… I view “nice/kind” as a maze; it’s how you play it. Lay those “nice/kind” cards down right, and it truly translates to confidence, awareness, attentiveness, and values that certainly cross the finish line first. Know when/how to bend backwards, and you’ll earn the support to get pushed back up.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis