We Asked CPI Instructors: Is Kindness Worth It?

August 21, 2017
Two pairs of hands clasped together.

A colleague recently forwarded me this comment: “I have a friend who works in health care who loves what CPI does, but says that time is the one thing they don’t have—and it takes time to be kind.”

My colleague wondered, “Does kindness really take that much longer?”

I have my own personal beliefs about kindness and courtesy, but I write for a living—I’ve never been a nurse, I’ve never been a security officer, I’ve never been a special education coordinator, I’ve never driven a school bus, and I’ve never worked in memory care—just to name a few of the many roles that CPI training supports. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go far to find the people who do—they make up our dynamic and global community of CPI Certified Instructors.

What makes our instructors so incredible is their willingness to share their perspectives and real-life experiences. Their commitment is to implement Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training into the daily functions of the organizations they serve, so we passed the question on to them, and listened carefully to their feedback.

We Asked a Certified Instructor: Does Kindness Really Take Longer?

Mark, a social worker, responded: “If [staff] do not deal with behaviors at a lower level of escalation, they will be responding eventually. When they let the crisis develop, they will actually take more time dealing with a crisis and the postvention, than taking the time when it is less emotionally charged.”

Erica, a nurse coordinator, added: “I hear this all the time, and my response to staff who feel this way is that it may take longer to verbally de-escalate someone, but at least you're going home at the end of the day in one piece. We've had a lot of incidents of staff injury over the years, and that's not to say that they ALL could have been prevented; but I think sometimes staff just want the crisis to be over, and then they rush things, and that's when people get hurt.”

Liz, an ADI project manager, agreed with Mark. “It does take much longer when a client's communication (behavior is communication) is allowed to escalate and everyone ends up feeling badly about the outcome. And just imagine all of the paperwork involved!”

Matt, a security officer, offered this perspective: “I would rather spend 20 minutes speaking with someone attempting to decelerate their behavior. I find that a lot easier than spending 25+ minutes waiting for other staff members to arrive, wait for medication to be ready, wait for the doctor's orders to restrain the patient, check to make sure nobody got injured during the restraint application (including the patient), and then fill out the necessary paperwork for restraining the patient. After all that's said and done, 20 minutes doesn't seem to be that long after all.”

Kris, a school psychologist and special education coordinator, shared an additional insight: “In our trainings we talk about where we invest our time, and the conscious decision to invest more time being supportive at the anxiety level so that we are less likely to have to spend the amount of time required to deal with the other levels. So, in the long run, kindness buys time in the form of cooperation!”

Our Instructors also pointed out that the attention paid up front can impact other outcomes, such as quality scores, which quantify emotional responses that might otherwise not seem so important to a hurried staff member, and have a real impact on the organization as a whole. One Certified Instructor quoted a physician who told her, “Spend 5 [minutes] to save 20.” 

Liz made an additional point that really resonates—kindness is not just about the patient, or the client, or the student. Kindness is also about the staff. “Being kind is not only the most professional and effective approach, it also saves time and human wear and tear.”

Health care is not the only industry which faces increasing pressure to deliver meaningful outcomes in as high a volume as possible. Our society at large is tangled in perpetual interaction with life’s challenges, including an ever-increasing workload and a heightened level of social engagement, which pressure us to move as quickly as possible in whatever we’re doing. The challenge to mindfully set our own pace flies in the face of the urgent climate of Western culture. But kindness requires us to take pause.