The power of kindness

Paul Devlin Academy Fab NHS Stuff

Today, our quality improvement (QI) media and communications officer Jane Barlow took part in a kindness and positivity workshop hosted by the Academy of Fab NHS Stuff, which was held as part of #FabChange21.

Below are Jane’s personal reflections from the day.

Did you know that your mood can affect hundreds or even thousands of others, during the course of just one day?

It was one of the fascinating facts I discovered when I took part in a kindness and positivity workshop, which was hosted by the Fab Academy of NHS Stuff when they held their #FabChange21 festival.

The workshop was led by Paul Devlin, a fab academy ambassador and a member of the NHS England and NHS Improvement elective and emergency care improvement support team. He explained that kindness is contagious, but unsurprisingly, that negativity is too. He explained about the ripple effect and just how easily and fast positivity or negativity can spread. He explained how one act, could affect the day of the 20 people you might come into contact with, how that would then affect the mood of the people they came into contact with and how very quickly, 8,000 people could be influenced, in a day.

He spoke about random acts of kindness and gave the example of a customer at a Starbucks drive- thru who decided to pay for the next customer’s drink as well as his own. The next customer did the same, and so on, with this continuing for an amazing two and a half hours.

While focussing on the power of positivity, Paul also mentioned how negative experiences can have a big impact on people. He told the workshop that it takes more than one positive experience to cancel out a negative one — it takes three. A colleague at Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, Martyne May, from the Speech and Language Therapy Service, who also attended the workshop, said this was a concept she was already aware of, so every time students are given one constructive criticism, they are also given three positives.

Paul encouraged those attending to make a conscious decision to be kind in their personal and professional lives. He urged everyone to do one random act of kindness every day, first thing in the morning and see how it affected their day. He explained how it brings out the best in the person doing the act and those on the receiving end. He said it could boost positivity, boost self-confidence, motivate people and help them achieve their goals.

Paul gave five top tips for spreading kindness and positivity:

  • Do at least one thing for yourself each day
  • Limit the amount of time you spend with people who you know often lower your mood
  • When something happens, you can decide how to respond to it
  • Watch yourself as if you were watching someone else. What would you say to yourself?
  • Take control of your own destiny.

He said that colleagues bringing their best selves to work resulted in wards and hospitals where we would all be happy for our family members to be treated. He said healthcare trusts who applied the concepts found that staff retention and recruitment were much easier.

During the workshop, he said none of us are “superhuman” and we will all have down days, but not to let these become down weeks or even months. He said to commit to being kind to yourself as well as others.

At the workshop colleagues from others health trusts spoke about how it had been a difficult two years in the NHS due to COVID-19. One colleague said writing things down had helped her – and this later led to her publishing a collection of poetry, called Reflections Through the Waves.

Paul’s final prompt was to urge all to be a force for kindness, positivity and change and he directed us to the You Tube video of the shirtless dancing man, where one man at first seems a little odd, but soon changes the mood of a crowd of people. Do take a look if you’ve never seen it: