From education to employment

Talking is the Epitome of Kindness

Nahla Summers, Cultural Change Consultant, Workshop leader and Public Speaker, A Culture of Kindness

Time to talk day (2nd Feb) and kindness are intrinsically linked, in a world that can often feel disconnected, Nahla Summers shares some insight on the importance of talking to connect to ourselves, each other where kindness comes into that.

I have been researching kindness for 10 years, give or take, and there are a few things I have learnt along the way.  I think firstly and maybe the most important, is that kindness is not as simple as you might imagine.  It has complexities that often surprise, enlighten, and appear impossible.   I have discussed kindness with hundreds and maybe even now thousands on the topic of kindness, from these the values that are umbrella-ed under kindness became evident.

Before I discuss how they relate to talking, I want to discuss Time to Talk day and why that day might hold such importance as a point of discussion within the kindness arena.  Prior to the 17 Century when Newspapers became the way to transfer what was happening in the world, we used the power of conversation to share stories.

In the past 20 years that has changed so dramatically as we use online to learn new information, gain news not only in the world but on our friends and family.  In fact, if you never wanted to speak again, you could in fact still maintain a level of up-to-date info on any one or thing important to you.  That might be the most astonishing thing about the modern day, you in fact have no reason to talk.

Yet you do.  Prof. Steve Peters in his book, The Chimp Paradox talks about how the brain arranges and sorts itself by talking. Sometimes you’ll need to keep talking about it and sometimes you talk it out once and the brain can move from the chimp brain to the human brain, ultimately making you feel calmer.  It has rationalised it and is ready to move on. 

This important research allowed me to understand better why sometimes I need to say the same story a few times but also gave me the empathy (important kindness value) to sit and listen several times to the same tale of an incident from someone.  We must be kind to ourselves, allow our bodies and minds to do what it needs to do to keep calm.  Talking is kindness to yourself.

What happens when we don’t talk

I have no science on this, which I am sure is an article ‘no, no’.  However, my instinct over the years, says that when we don’t talk about something that is bothering us, it has nowhere to go.  It’s stuck, inside of us like a festering ball of negativity. 

Yes, it effects our mental health, but in time this also manifests itself into physical health issues.  I have seen this phenome happen to people time and time again so while I have no evidence, the very idea helps me to work harder to ensure that not only I speak my truth, but I also encourage others to too without judgement.  It is time to talk!

Speaking our truth

The idea of standing in my own truth is a saying that I love.  It feels romantic and poetic but in reality, is hard and considered.  Standing in your own truth takes work and some tools in your toolbelt on knowing how to deliver that message to those around you with careful consideration.

How many times in your life have you said something, not because that’s what you believe or is to your moral standing, but because you think it’s what they want to hear.  The idea of talking to please.  We often adapt because sharing our truth will make us feel judged or out of the circle.  However, when we do that, we are also losing a part of ourselves. 

Integrity is another core value under kindness and that is because it allows us to be ourselves.  It is also ensuring that those around you, know who you are, respect it and you can forge healthy relationships based on truth.

Know yourself

It seems weird to say, ‘know yourself’, of course we know ourselves.  However, most of us are constantly learning about ourselves if we are willing to keep our eyes open; how we learn, how we love, how we evolve.  They are all moments to learn about ourselves and how to navigate a happier existence. 

People do this in different ways and that is probably another article. But I will say, we learn about ourselves when we talk.  Talking with someone without them even responding can give us our own ‘Ah ha’ moments that propel us forwards.

Setting your boundaries

I have talked about boundaries before in my articles but working to understand what they are and then how to communicate them is key.  Talking through our problems is one thing, talking to ensure those problems don’t occur is preventative, which is where boundaries come in.  The idea of being able to talk about your boundaries is a skill worth investing in for your family and for your work.  

In your workplaces why not have a session just on boundaries, allowing the team you work with the space to talk through what that is to each of them.  Giving everyone an opportunity to understand each other a little better, practice talking, listening without judgement and demonstrating respect.

Be the actor in your own play

I grew up hearing my mum muttering to herself, as if she was having a conversation with someone but they obviously weren’t replying.  As a child, it just became the norm.  As an adult I started to understand better why.  She was talking through situations in her mind.  She was having imaginary conversations with people, working through things in her mind about the things that troubled her.  She would work out the best way to word something or tackle a situation, she had practiced her words and felt comfortable that she was standing in her own truth without then also blowing up, she was letting all the emotion and steam out of the situation. 

I call it, ‘Being an actor in your own play’.  I realised that my mum’s way allows you to talk even if you don’t have someone to listen, it allows to move from the chimp brain to the human brain when there is no one around.  I maybe bias, but my mum is genius.

I could go on but I know there are some other brilliant articles coming out on Time to Talk day, so I will summarise with this.  ‘Time’ is another of the core values in kindness; to give time.  To carve it out and provide it to another human. 

While it is important for you to make time to talk for yourself, it is also important that we can stand with each other and listen without judgement.  You don’t need to have answers or actions or solutions, simply be present and allow people to talk. 

Nahla Summers
By Nahla Summers, Culture change consultant, A Culture of Kindness. 

Nahla researches kindness and how it impacts leadership and society as a whole.  She is in turn delivering keynotes, training and consultancy programs that are driving more productive workplaces and happier workforces.  You can also find her breaking a couple of Guinness World Records in her spare time. 

To find out more about Nahlas work please go to 

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