Well, did you have champagne, roses and romantic cards for Valentine’s Day last week? Followed by unexpected thoughtful gestures for Random Acts of Kindness Day? Valentine’s Day isn’t really my thing and I had an interesting experience with Random Acts of Kindness a few years ago, which put me off that day a bit too!  

Here’s the reason. A few years ago, I came across the idea of Random Acts of Kindness and really liked it. It wasn’t the actual day (I don’t think the day had been invented then 😊) but the idea itself. Buoyed up, I decided to carry out some Random Acts of Kindness. From sending flowers and cards to friends I hadn’t seen for a while to offering to help a harassed parent load heavy bags into the car at the supermarket, I was right in there.  

I don’t think I was doing anything particularly outrageous in any situation. But, more often than not, the outcome wasn’t quite as I expected. One example? I sent flowers to an elderly family friend who was ill; she got really upset – she wasn’t happy that my family had been talking about her health behind her back! It took a bit of persuasion to make sure she knew that no-one had been gossiping and that we had her best interests at heart. 

The thing is, Valentine’s Day and Random Acts of Kindness Day give a context to behaviours that might otherwise be seen as slightly bizarre…I mean, in general, if someone sent you an unsigned, heart-covered card complete with soppy verse declaring their unrequited infatuation, you might even think it’s a little bit creepy.  

Context is everything! 

And that’s a handy thing for leaders to remember too – set out the context within which you are asking for information, instigating a change, giving feedback, concerned about results…It gives other people that all-important insight into the reason for your request, action or emotion. And that insight brings understanding, which makes it easier for them to respond appropriately. In turn, you’re far more likely to get the outcome you were expecting too. 

So, simple reminder from last week’s celebrations of kindness and romance – explain why, not just what!
The critical message for leaders in the wake of the roses and romance of Valentine’s Day