17th May is International Pink Shirt Day led by the Mental Health Foundation and supported by, workplaces, schools and communities.Initiated in Canada in 2007 when two students found a gay student being bullied for wearing a pink shirt.The shirt has come to symbolise our collective responsibility to ensure people feel safe, valued, respected, included, free from bullying, and it is our task to spread aroha and kindness.
I absolutely applaud all of that, it is symbolic and supportive. Pinkshirt.org provides some great ideas and resources including holding pink events, morning teas, fundraisers, posters, and community activities to transform the day into a positive collective experience.The day is a great start, but it is just that - a start! If we commit to this principle, then we need something simple and consistent that can be put in place after the day.
One way of turning the good intentions for the day into a personal and professional habit is to go back to that long list of ‘safe, valued, respected, included, free from bullying, aroha and kindness’; pick just one of the attributes and seek ways of quietly but deliberately putting it in place for those around you in the workplace.
For me aroha and kindness resonate.Kindness is getting a strong profile from our Prime Minister, both for creating a kinder work environment in the Beehive, on the world stage, and following the tragic events in Christchurch.These are big problems, I can only acknowledge and support them at a distance.What I can do is to reframe and create small but deliberate acts of kindness to my peers and contacts in the workplace on a daily basis.This may be in compassion, giving the benefit of the doubt, taking time to share a coffee, acknowledging and thanking, asking questions and genuinely listening to the response, having the internal discipline to let go of having to be right, or having the right answers. They may not notice, but small and consistent practices will have a ripple effect.We have no idea of the impact that small acts can have on ourselves and others.
To do this effectively I will need to be more mindful when I communicate.Genuinely listening and asking questions is an art that many coaches have mastered well. Activating coaching skills are a powerful discipline to ensure that my agenda takes a back seat, I ask the right questions, walk in someone else’s shoes for a short time, really listen to the response, follow where they lead and leave people feeling heard and acknowledged.
My goal will be to wear a pink shirt on the outside on 17 May, and small but deliberate acts of aroha and kindness on the inside for a small part of every day thereafter.Which of the attributes would you pick?
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