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You are in HR So You Should Kill Them With Kindness

This guest post is by Erin Palmer. Erin works with the online programs from Villanova University, such as their masters degree in human resources and human resources certificationprograms. Follow her on Twitter @Erin_E_Palmer.

I once had a grocery store clerk accidently ring up some cereal that belonged to the person in line behind me. By the time I noticed it, I had already finished paying. I handed the cereal to the other customer and turned to leave. The customer, the cashier and the bagger all looked at me like I was crazy. They told me I could go to customer service and get a refund, but I said that it was no big deal. Apparently, it was. As I walked away, they were staring at me as if I had opened the cereal and dumped it all over the floor.  Was it really that odd that I paid for a stranger’s cereal?

This experience made me realize how small acts of kindness aren’t seen as often as they should be. I think that kindness is a quality that can never be overused, particularly in human resources. HR sees people at their most vulnerable moments. When employees are expecting their first child, forced to take a medical leave of absence or dealing with a death in the family, they turn to HR. Sensitive times require sensitive people.

HR also represents the company as a whole. Every interaction that an HR professional has at work is a reflection of the company and the brand. No one wants to support a company full of nasty people. It only takes one negative experience for a bad reputation to begin. Basic manners and friendliness can go a long way towards making a good impression.

When I was interviewing for my current job, HR was the first department that I interacted with. Everyone was incredibly nice and went out of their way to be helpful. Before I even met with the hiring manager, I already felt really good about the company. The pleasantness of the HR department didn’t stop after I was hired. If I ever need anything, I know that HR will do whatever they can to help.

It is not hard to be nice, in your personal or professional life. We are human, so there will be days when we are angry or tired or frustrated because our favorite sports team keeps losing. No one is happy every moment of every day, but it never hurts to smile through the bad moments. I know that if a stranger ever buys me a box of cereal, it will make my day. I will smile and say “thank you.” The next morning when I’m in a pre-coffee funk, that act of kindness will remind me to be a better person. I can’t imagine a sweeter start to the day!

 

7 Responses to You are in HR So You Should Kill Them With Kindness

  1. chris

    This is timely for me. Yesterday I saw a homeless man (i see them all the time) but something in my mind told me to give him $2. Then something said, he may use it for drugs or alcohol. Just as I was about to NOT give him the money, something else said “He may use it for food.” So I gave it to him because I know I was going it for the right reason. And the other cars waiting on the light to changed looked at me, like these folks looked at you.

    Rock on
    chris recently posted..HR Nightmare: Supersized Can Of Whip Ass

  2. Erin Palmer

    I do the same thing, Chris. I actually got in trouble during a 5th grade field trip to Washington DC because I gave money to a homeless woman. She was young and looked so sad, so I wanted to help. The chaperone called my mom and referred to me as a “disappointment to the rule-followers.”

    My mom told me that caring about others is never a disappointment. I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Joe

    Hi Chris – I know where you are coming from. Years ago around the holidays I saw an elderly man with a sign that said something like Hungry. Please Help. Having the same thoughts about alcohol I went a slightly different route. There was an Italian restaurant nearby so I ordered a full meal for him. I had a case of water in my truck so I gave him a few bottles as well.

    There are times when you can just tell when people are being sincere. He was extremely grateful and almost started to cry.

    Hopefully these stories will inspire people and kindness will spread like wildfire :)

  4. Dave "theHRCzar" Ryan

    . Erin thanks for the great post Joe and Chris thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment..
    Dave “theHRCzar” Ryan recently posted..You are in HR So You Should Kill Them With Kindness

  5. MAD HR Pro

    Chris,

    I couldn’t disagree with you or your post any more. I’m sorry but having a smile won’t make up for the times when you have to discipline, terminate and/or have to sell a decision you don’t agree with. I pride myself on my integrity. Killing an asshole with kindness will only go so far. Sometimes you to be truthful and you can be respectful but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be “nice”.

  6. Erin Palmer

    Hi MAD HR Pro,

    I wrote this post, not Chris. I understand what you mean about a smile not making up for terminating someone. However, when it comes to termination, I think that not having a huge smile on your face IS the nice thing to do. Being kind goes hand in hand with being respectful. Obviously if you are letting someone go while grinning, that would make matters worse. However, I think that it is possible to be truthful, respectful and nice at the same time. There is a difference between being syrupy-big-fake-smile-nice and being a kind and understanding person.

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