K is for … Kindness

 In Speak Up Month

Samantha Allen

CEO, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of the Health & Care Women Leaders Network

It’s all too easy to dismiss the concept of kindness as something we don’t really have time for when things are busy, or to confuse it with the somewhat nondescript adjective of being ‘nice’.

It’s so much more than that.

Kindness is key to encouraging people to speak up. It’s about being willing to listen to them – with attentiveness, empathy and understanding – and to act on what you have heard. It’s about creating an organisational culture where people feel confident, comfortable and cared for when they raise issues of concern – rather than blamed, marginalised or ignored.

Kindness is also about constructive challenge and asking coaching questions that encourage people to challenge their own thinking and behaviours. When we do this it shows we are genuinely interested in someone and that we care about their experiences.

When our workplace behaviours are based on kindness, we cultivate the kind of environment where people feel better able to bring their authentic selves to work. This places them in a position where they will be more likely to speak up about something that’s concerning them – whether this is about behaviours, patient safety, a policy that isn’t being followed properly or clinical practice that doesn’t put patients first.

When people are able to do that, it’s better for their psychological wellbeing. And what’s good for staff wellbeing is good for patient outcomes.

Being kind to ourselves is also important. Our #Ten4Ten World Mental Health Day campaign is designed to encourage people to pay attention to – and have conversations about – their mental health and wellbeing. This is more important than ever at a time when we are all living and working in the midst of a global pandemic.



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