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Kindness: Not Fluffy Woo Woo

Kindness and the practice of law? For the longest time, I never believed it, but now I know better. I'm not talking about kindness as obsequiousness. Or gentleness. Or deference. I'm talking about a quality that is none of those other things-- I'm talking about k-i-n-d-n-e-s-s.

Kindness is a surprisingly important quality-- for lawyers, and for all of us. But let's limit our discussion to lawyers, for the moment. Civility? Check. Professionalism? Check. Kindness? I believe it should be right up there with civility and professionalism, but in my experience, kindness is definitely not (at least was not) a "check". It isn't (wasn't) even an afterthought.

But you know what? Adding a dash of kindness to your repertoire (both personal and professional) will go a long way toward boosting trust. It'll go even further toward helping you gain respect. And will earn you what is perhaps the most difficult accolade that anyone can pay-- credibility.

Extending kindness to others also reminds us to extend some of that same kindness to ourselves, and we all know that being kind to ourselves is where it all begins. That may seem counterintuitive to some, but it's really true. Self-sustaining kindness is-- to echo my kids-- the bomb.

A few months ago, I led a self-compassion meditation, and posted a thank you on LinkedIn-- only to receive more reactions (all positive), and more views, than any posting I had ever made. And from a lot of men and women who are lawyers!

Self-compassion is, of course, a close cousin to kindness. The two go hand-in-hand, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that lawyers are not only cognizant of both self-compassion and kindness, but are actually craving it in their professional lives (not to mention, their personal lives).

Kindness needn't be anathema to lawyers. As a matter of fact, it should be the cornerstone of how we do what we do-- be it for clients, work peers, opposing counsel or judges.

Be civil. Be professional. But above all, be kind !


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