So LOUD – Be Kind


The world is very, very LOUD these days. In fact, some days I feel like all I can hear is noise, with no content filtering through the clatter.

I know that those of you on the frontlines of the nonprofit sector are being assaulted by noise too, as you bear-up through government shut downs, increased pressure to provide the same programs with fewer dollars, the never-ending search for funding, and the ever-expanding need for your services regardless of your mission.

There is ever-increasing churn, which for a cloud-company like GrantStation translates into constant waves of emails, texts, Slack notifications, Tweets, and phone calls from time zones all over the world. At home, instead of saying “let’s watch the news” my family says (regardless of the network) “let’s watch the screaming people,” while checking our mobiles, tablets, social media, and news feeds.

Life has become cacophonous.

Now, I recognize that much of the noise is a choice on my part; I could, but do not, choose to go for a walk, unplug after a set time each day, or tune out in a myriad of ways.

At work, I choose to communicate to avoid silo mentality, I choose to read what’s incoming, and I choose to respond as soon as possible to organizational partners and coworkers, which increases the churn and the noise. At home, I choose to stay up-to-date on national and international current events, check in with friends and relatives, stay abreast of activities within nonprofit organizations I support, and so on.

Anyway, for me, all the noise can feel overwhelming, and in the past my first reaction has been to invoke a certain terseness or crispness of attitude and response. In person, this plays out just fine when combined with polite and respectful visual cues. But visual cues don’t email, and nuance is frequently lost in digital communication, so a crisp reply as an “incoming management tool” is not as effective as I would like. 

So, I’m trying something different. I’m choosing to lead with kindness. I’ve posted the mantra “May all beings be filled with loving-kindness” by my desk, and when I am feeling stressed I look there before responding. I do not think that I was unkind in the past, but I am an East-coast, type A, Meyers-Briggs INTJ kind of person, and I move pretty fast.

And you know what? There is zero difference in the amount of noise, but the interactions feel “softer” and I feel better about the level of care I am showing to others.

The nonprofit sector is filled with good-hearted people who lead with kindness... and maybe some of them could actually benefit from being a bit terser and crisper as they manage the noise.

How are you faring in noise management?

If you have a tip, story, or technique, please share it here by May 31, 2019. I will do a follow-up post highlighting your advice and best practices.