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You Can PLAN To Be Kind

Before I tell you my story, let me give you the punch-line right away. You do not have to be in the right mood to show kindness. You do not have to wait for the right feelings before you undertake a kind act.

The most outstanding phenomenon I took home from our first vacation cruise was about people. It was not the Alaskans, nor the Tlingit Indians; it was not our family, nor our fellow travelers. It was the paid help on the "Radiance of the Sea" cruise ship! This included waiters, room service folks, janitorial staff, greeters, clerks — everybody. There were no exceptions.

They were uniformly and consistently friendly, warm, and personable. If you passed any of them under any circumstance, you received eye contact, a smile, and kind words. Such greetings were never offered mechanically, nor without apparent genuineness. It was amazing! It was wonderful!

The automatic, cynical explanation for all this pleasant behavior is, of course, that it was about their expectation of gratuities. However, the ship handled tips in a formal way—as an addition to the bill of the patrons. The tips were virtually anonymous. So . . . most of those who dispensed these delightful blessings were not in a position to receive anything directly from those to whom they were expressing warmth.

There was no obvious way to ascribe this exceptional behavior as being generated by an expectation of a direct tangible payoff. Therefore, it had to be prescribed conduct, directed by management. It had to be mandatory, high priority, prescribed behavior, because — it was always there and it was seldom half-hearted.

This loving-kindness was planned — thoughtfully. Nevertheless, even though the friendliness was required, it still felt wonderful to us.

The Royal Caribbean Corporation knows that their strategy is good for business. The owners and managers of the cruise line have drawn the conclusion that incorporating warmth and friendliness into their service pays off.

Their heads, not their hearts, generate these warm connections, but the effect is the same — spirits are lifted, discouragement is healed, sick-hearts feel cheered. The recipients are left feeling positive about their entire experience, in no small part because of the warmth and friendliness of the paid staff.

So what is my point? My point is that kindness is not kid stuff! Don’t discount it. It works for a big corporation like Royal Caribbean, so it is very much for adults. As Christians, it is very much for us. Let’s do it more !! Warmth and friendliness make people feel good. Cheerfulness and kind words are a blessing to people.

My point is that we don’t have to be ‘directed’ to behave this way by our boss; we don’t have to behave this way because it is ‘expected’ of us — we can do it of our own volition, in gratitude for the loving kindness given to us by Christ!

And we can PLAN to do it, regardless of the situation, or of how we are feeling at the moment. We can bless the people we meet, the people we work with, the people we are with socially by being kind to them in these ways.


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