Is kindness an essential trait, to work in the social impact space?

I believe that kindness is a core human value. And it drives humanity across the world. I strongly believe that every human being carries the quality of kindness. A lot has been said about kindness as an act towards others (people, other living things etc), but the world is slowly coming to realise how important it is to be kind towards yourself as well. And as some scholars have mentioned, it is the act of kindness that gives immense joy and satisfaction to the doer. Kindness for me, is an action taken with genuine care, without expecting anything in return. Thereby an act of kindness ends up making the world a better place.

This virtue therefore is a key element of several professions – be it doctor or nurse, teacher or soldier, which act under responsibility for another human being. Social sector professionals are also driven by the same in making a positive difference to the lives of fellow human beings. While working with underprivileged / underserved communities, it’s important that the professionals work with a sense of compassion and kindness rather than having a feel of sympathy or pity.

I guess, I have been fortunate. Being from a small town family with a humble background, I have seen since childhood my grandparents and parents, performing the small acts of kindness which instilled the value in me. I guess it also influenced me in some way, me choosing to build a career in the social impact space. The sector and its ways, ranging from charity to philanthropy to CSR and even to social entrepreneurship are all rooted in the foundation of kindness.

Career selection, for anyone, has to be based on their purpose in life. It’s easier said than identifying one’s purpose but then, it is a worthy pursuit. I believe that kindness at some level, helps you identify your purpose as well. To be a successful professional in the development space, one must have the ability to mindfully listen to the community. At NuSocia, it becomes even more important as our work revolves around unbiased listening to the community and then leverage that either to design the relevant CSR interventions or to make suggestions for scale / replication / exit of the program. Therefore, compassion and mindful listening are the qualities we nurture in our team. The question however, often gets asked – is kindness the only thing it takes to be in the sector. To me, it is like asking – is salt the only thing that you need to make a good dish? The answer is clear. To get a good dish, you need to have salt but salt alone can’t make a good dish. Besides kindness, one must develop skills like interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, observation skills, strategic thinking, identification of collaboration and cooperation opportunities, to name a few. Respect unto others and Integrity of work, are two often less quoted but mighty important traits of a good social impact sector professional.

These are some of my thoughts about kindness and its importance at the workplace. I would love to listen to your views about the same, as well.

Written by:
Manju Menon
CEO and Co-Founder, NuSocia

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