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HCI Webinar: How Intentional Kindness Can Help Create a Better Workplace, with Alan S. Questel

In the latest HCI Webinar, Dr. Jonathan H. Westover talks with Alan S. Questel about how intentional kindness can help create a better workplace. Below is a summary of the main points from their conversation! Check out the full episode and let us know what you think!


Watch the episode here:


Quick Recap


Alan and Jonathan had a conversation about the significance of intentional kindness in bettering workplaces. They explored the concept of small, daily acts of kindness, and how it can foster a more connected society. They also touched upon the role of kindness in personal and professional relationships, the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries, and the concept of "tough love" in relationships. Alan shared his personal journey of self-discovery through acts of kindness and generosity towards others.


Intentional Kindness in Workplaces Dialogue


Jonathan and Alan had a conversation about the role of intentional kindness in improving workplaces. Jonathan outlined the structure of the conversation, which included introductions, sharing of personal backgrounds, and a dialogue on the topic. Alan, originally from Southern California but currently based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, clarified the pronunciation of his name and his work, the Feldenkrais method. The conversation was set to be recorded for approximately 25 minutes, with Alan given the opportunity to share his contact details at the end.


Intentional Kindness: A Path to Connection


Jonathan and Alan discussed the importance and impact of intentional acts of kindness. Alan shared his personal journey of discovering kindness through acts of generosity towards others and how it improved his self-image. They also explored the societal benefits of kindness, including breaking down barriers and fostering collaboration. Alan emphasized the need for small, daily acts of kindness to make a significant impact. They concluded that intentional kindness could lead to a more connected society.


Kindness in Personal and Professional Life


Alan and Jonathan discussed the importance of kindness, both in the personal and professional spheres. Alan emphasized the challenge of being kind to oneself, which he found more difficult than being kind to others. He suggested that starting with small, concrete actions, such as moving comfortably or intentionally engaging in chitchat, could help build confidence and ability. Alan also highlighted the importance of listening, not just in terms of quieting initial responses, but also in making common pleasantries more intentional. Jonathan agreed with Alan's points and was interested in exploring how these principles could be applied in the workplace.


Needy Woman's Lesson on Patience and Listening


Alan shared an experience from a plane trip, during which he was seated next to two women. One woman was very needy and attention-seeking, which made Alan uncomfortable. However, he managed to engage with her for about five minutes before returning to his book. Alan reflected on how people who are difficult to interact with, like the needy woman, can be good teachers, teaching us patience and the art of listening. He also shared that he had applied this lesson in his work, choosing to engage with challenging students rather than avoiding them.


Relationship Boundaries and Generosity Discussion


Alan and Jonathan discussed the importance of maintaining healthy relationships and setting clear boundaries, especially in friendships. They shared personal experiences and thoughts on how to effectively manage these boundaries. They emphasized the importance of generosity and kindness towards others, even in challenging situations, noting that these acts could significantly impact someone's life. They also touched on the workplace environment, suggesting that starting from a place of generosity and kindness towards colleagues and leaders could foster a more productive approach to disagreements.


Dialogue and Generosity in Conversations


Alan and Jonathan had a conversation about the importance of maintaining a productive dialogue. They emphasized the need to control one's initial reactions and respond with generosity to foster a more conversational environment. They both agreed that listening and asking questions are key to understanding different perspectives, rather than dismissing them. Alan shared an experience where he had to manage his reactions during a feedback session with a colleague, and how he was able to understand the colleague's thought process and offer constructive feedback. The discussion also touched on the concept of generosity, with Alan suggesting that listening can be a form of generosity.


Tough Love and Workplace Needs


Alan discussed the concept of "tough love" in relationships, explaining that it involves holding one's ground and explaining something to someone that might not be agreeable, but for the larger benefit. He emphasized the importance of giving individuals a choice in having a difficult conversation rather than imposing it. He also touched upon expressing needs in the workplace, emphasizing that while feelings aren't often discussed, needs can be understood to create a better work environment. Jonathan listened throughout the discussion.


Generosity and Self-Comfort


Alan discussed the concept of generosity and shared a personal experience where he was supposed to leave a generous tip at a restaurant but found it uncomfortable. He emphasized the challenges of self-generosity and how small acts of generosity, such as offering to copy something in the workplace, can accumulate over time. Jonathan responded non-verbally throughout the discussion.


Workplace Kindness and Self-Love Discussion


Alan and Jonathan discussed the potential challenges of being a person in the workplace that people are most comfortable around. Alan emphasized the importance of finding ways to engage with others without jeopardizing one's job or threatening oneself. He also shared that his book, "Practicing Dash Kindness", is available on Amazon and other platforms. Alan encouraged nurturing kindness and self-love, emphasizing that these qualities could contribute to making the world a better place.


Listen to the webinar here:



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