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Acts of kindness should be a daily goal

By Brenda Steele

Morehouse College is more than a place to work, it's a place to practice acts of kindness everyday. Therefore, it’s advantageous to everyone to demonstrate exceptional customer service not only to parents, potential students and other visitors who come to the College, but also to each other. Exceptional customer service is more than doing your job—it’s an act of kindness. As an administrative assistant, I have countless opportunities to spread kindness to the faculty, staff and students with whom I come in contact with every week.

When students walk into the office, I represent Morehouse and it is important that I demonstrate excellence. It’s not just because I am an administrative assistant. Yes, we’re expected to be pleasant to the people who call or visit the office. But it really allows me to build relationships with people. My goal is to show every student, visitor and colleague that I appreciate them. This gives me another chance to make a difference in someone’s day. After all, who doesn’t want to be appreciated?

I use my words to encourage students by giving them a compliment or asking them a question about their wellbeing. Encouragement holds power. Every day many of us ask fellow faculty, staff and students how they’re doing. But do we really listen to their responses? We expect people to say, “I’m fine,” or even an “excellent” here and there. But do we hear them? I do. I try to be ready with something encouraging or something that starts a conversation about what makes their day so great. This helps build a relationship of trust, but I hope that they too will be compelled to share their joy with others.

My mother always said, “It doesn’t cost anything to be kind, Brenda-Joyce, it’s free.” Treat others with respect, and you’re helping them in some small way to become a better person. When students walk into my office, I acknowledge them by saying, “Yes sir, how can I help you?” When they’re having a bad day, a “You will make it” may suffice. If they’re doing well in a class, I say, “Keep up the good work!” I treat them with respect, just the way I hope others are treating my own son, a professional truck driver, as he travels across the U.S.

Students need to know that staff and faculty are committed to respecting them. Respect builds trust. When someone knows they can trust you to do your job, you open the door to become a more valuable employee and a community builder. We may never know what is happening in the lives of our coworkers and students. We may never know how an act of kindness helped them, but sometimes we do.

I have received notes from parents, students and faculty expressing their gratitude. Last year, the Maroon Tiger selected myself and other administrative assistants for the newspaper’s “People of the Year Award.” They wrote that students went out of their way to come by my office for “a kind word or an inspirational message.”

Indeed, the joy I receive as a result of my endeavors to provide exceptional customer service to everyone is immeasurable. Being kind isn’t a nice thing to do; it’s what we’re supposed to do.

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