Harness the Power of Creativity with a Dash of KindnessMark Twain once said, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Replace the word “kindness” with “creativity,” and it’s easy to see that these unique forms of expression are remarkably homologous to the human experience.
No wonder kindness plays such an important role in the creative field –- from the collaborative environments in which we work to the paths we choose to find the next big idea.
Look at the captivating process of brainstorming, for instance. We tend to approach it through an overly optimistic and empowering lens. It make us feel like innovators in action – unleashing the power of our brains, attacking the problem while developing something new.
You could say that brainstorming is an art in and of itself. After all, you’re setting the stage for success while managing collateral damage that we humans are seemingly wired to instill in one another. It’s a high stakes environment: team members, peers, and bosses who are watching, listening and evaluating our ideas.
At the same time, like any human activity, we’re both at our best and worst when idea-generating. This usually means reality blends with our own fictive understanding of ourselves: what we think we are capable of in a whiteboard session. As Friedrich Nietzsche so exquisitely described us humans, “In conversation we are sometimes confused by the tone of our own voice, and mislead to make assertions that do not at all correspond to our opinions.”
At some point, kindness has to find its way into the process.
On a practical level, Alex Osborne, founder of the modern brainstorm work session, believed that idea-generation required rules to ensure people participated and felt a part of the group. Why? Because empathy and kindness are gateway traits to working well together. It’s a theory that’s well-documented by neuroscientists today. Kindness fosters an open, collaborative and alert mind, allowing us to think at a high level. It let’s us go beyond petty differences and transcend resentment and everyday slights.
Playing Nice with Nanci Besser
Convergence is tricky. Working towards a common goal, creating a prototype, a beta project or campaign means people must work together. But convergence is tricky.
As emotions, feelings and temperaments merge – and, even, collide – neuroscience shows us the value of empathy to offset it. We’ve asked author and teacher Nanci Besser to shed some light on this through the value of emotional intelligence in the brainstorming session:
A common misconception is that kindness equates with being “nice” and granting another his or her “way.” Looking within the parameters of emotional intelligence and mindfulness, it may be ascertained that kindness involves solving problems and fulfilling needs by creating space for an outcome that is bigger than any individual ego.
Being kind is meeting someone where he or she is at, in terms of his or her state of mind. The ability to expand your perceptions to include the ideas of another requires an empathic approach. To many, the notion of conflict tends to convey a negative connotation.
However, conflict in and of itself is a neutral state. It is only our interpretations that assign a negative or positive attribute to its existence. Passivity is not the gateway to promote innovation and creativity. Only through sifting through seemingly conflicting perspectives with kindness do we answer the greatest of creative enigmas.
It is possible to garner support for your point of view without negating someone else’s dreams. In an ideal collaborative environment, there are no inherently “wrong” ideas in a brainstorming session. Some conceptions are a better fit than others and, like cream, they will rise to the top without external manipulation.
Regardless of the industry or group demographics, if everyone embraces the process of conflict, rather than attempt to usurp the outcome to favor his or her position, the possibility for genuine synergy exists. Through employing constructive empathic communications motivated by an intention of kindness, the sum might be bigger than its individual parts. In other words, 1+1 could equal 3.
Author, Speaker, Teacher
“Go Kindly (TM)”