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Kind Vs. Nice

Recently I discovered some mean internal dialog that caught me off guard. Coworkers were railing one another in a group chat. It was unprofessional and unkind and needed to stop immediately. I was frankly embarrassed it was happening under my watch.

I scrolled through more dialog and realized one person was likely the instigator and would need to be fired and I knew that would be difficult for him. The whole situation got me thinking, how do we show kindness when the situation calls for us to take a firm position that is likely to be interpreted as not nice?

Nice is being agreeable and pleasant. Kindness shows generosity and consideration. Business calls for a lot of disagreeable and unpleasant interactions but we can show generosity and consideration nonetheless, like when firing someone.

Tips to fire with kindness:

  1. Get right to the point. Kindness is leaving someone with clarity.

  2. Give as much notice/severance as possible. Honor your responsibility in the situation, namely, you hired them. Give them space to pivot.

  3. Emphasize their strengths. Just because they didn’t fit for you doesn’t mean they won’t be a great fit somewhere else.

  4. Don’t over-promise what you’ll help them with. It’s unkind to offer to help them find something else when you have no intention of doing so.

Leaders have to make tough calls, but if you do so with kindness in the forefront, you’ll reap the rewards in the long run. 

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