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I'll say it again: Kindness Matters

The world can be a really messy and hard and sad place sometimes. And we’re all carrying our own stories. Some of us wear them on our sleeves. Some of us let them slip out from time to time. Some of us keep them very well hidden. Some of us do them all. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if we’re a frontend dev–or if you know how to spell it–a backend dev, a data scientist, or learning to dev. We’re all human. And kindness matters. I said it before, and I’ll say it again.

And here’s the thing, yes, you should be a decent human being, but also, being a kind and empathetic human being allows so much more room for growth for those around you. I feel kind of gross even saying that thing; productivity shouldn’t be your motivation to be a kind person, but, hey, if that’s what gets you there, fine.

I’ve talked about going through trauma, and if you want to hear more of that story, you can check out my trauma-blog that I just started, but two of the most important things I took from that experience are 1. community matters and 2. the person-centered approach.

Now, person-centered care–a term I’m stealing from the medical community–is when a person puts your experiences, wellbeing, needs and feelings at the centre of the caring and support process, and means we seek to understand and have empathy for your daily experience. If we remember that each of the people in our communities aren’t just workers and they’re dynamic human beings with multiple responsibilities who both succeed and fail everyday, we’ll do a better job of avoiding becoming a gatekeeper and creating stronger communities. The person-centered approach is driven by empathy and the mindset that each person on your team has something valuable to contribute.

Be a Gandalf

When we use this person-centered approach, a couple of things should happen: empathy is increased and we move away from a Me/Them model towards a We/Us model. What exactly does that mean? It means that we work together as a team to accomplish a goal, rather than making someone feel excluded from the team. This is not to say that there’s no leadership. If anything, the leader should establish this mentality and make it easier for the other teammates to follow suit.

Let the Hobbits speak

Allowing everyone to become active participants in establishing the type of community that helps everyone to thrive, helps to create the “we” instead of “them.” If you’re doing these things–inclusivity, positivity, we-mentality, person-centered approach–it should create an environment where everyone learns from each other. I think this is one of the most important parts of creating positive community and decreasing gatekeepers. By keeping our minds open to learning from anyone in an organization no matter the status or role, we allow ourselves to be versatile and open to growth.

But how does that contribute to productivity?

A growth mindset is one where the individual believes hard work, openness to input from others, and learning can develop talents as opposed to a fixed mindset where a person is more likely to believe they are born with talents. According to Harvard business review, “[employees from companies with a growth-mindset] report feeling far more empowered and committed; they also receive far greater organizational support for collaboration and innovation. In contrast, people at primarily fixed-mindset companies report more of only one thing: cheating and deception among employees, presumably to gain an advantage in the talent race.”

Employees in a “growth mindset” company are:

  • 47% likelier to say that their colleagues are trustworthy,
  • 34% likelier to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company,
  • 65% likelier to say that the company supports risk taking, and
  • 49% likelier to say that the company fosters innovation -Harvard Business Review

Hearing the horror stories of other early devs makes my heart hurt. It’s not that hard to be a kind human being. This has been a really, really hard week for me. My PTSD from an event four years ago was triggered and it took me a while to figure out what the heck was happening with my brain, why I couldn’t sleep, why that anxiety was crushing my chest. But do you know what makes it feel manageable? Having kind and caring people around me. The people who care first about me as a person and not what I got done this week. And a side-effect of that, yes is that I got stuff done.

I wrote a presentation and tests and refactored code and wrote blog posts and organized events and mentored people. None of that happens if I don’t know that I have support. If no one asks me how I’m doing, and means it. But also, it’s okay if I did none of that. Be kind to your employees, be kind to your co-workers, and be the best listener you can be. Because you don’t know what anyone else has been through, and acknowledging everyone’s experiences and supporting each other is more important than that code you’re writing anyway.

Top comments (4)

dana94 profile image
Dana Ottaviani

It's a small thing - but I appreciate when companies have a message at the bottom of their job postings with something like it's ok if you don't meet all of our requirements for this position, try to apply anyway. It makes me feel that at least they are acknowledging that applying to dev jobs isn't easy, especially for beginners.

I also don't see enough companies showing how much they value their employees on their site. No team page, no core values, creates a huge difference between companies that do emphasize what they care about.

bekahhw profile image

yes! That's so important.

annajmcdougall profile image
Anna J McDougall

I love seeing more positive/supportive posts up here. I did one recently about giving compliments and a lot of people seemed genuinely interested in learning how to give positive feedback, so I think this topic is super relevant. Thank you for posting it!

One nitpick though is that it's spelled "Gandalf" with an "a"! haha

bekahhw profile image

Thank you! And I can’t believe I missed that! That’s what happens when I stay up late to write.