By Elana B. Multi award-winning writer, advertiser, speaker, and internationally published author
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There is nothing quite like being on the receiving end of kindness. In a world that can be too terribly busy and harsh, acts of kindness, as well as giving and receiving words that are thoughtful and compassionate, can feel few and far between. Although we may hear harsh tones, words spewed in anger or meanness, as well as words said with indifference all around us; we don’t have to succumb to being a party to it. We get to choose the way we interact with the world around us. By taking control and choosing to speak using kind words every day, and by making certain that we act with kindness and compassion for those who might be struggling, or simply having a bad day, we are not only taking the high road, we are spreading goodwill and building bridges. The echo effect of goodwill will grow and multiply. Just as anger and hostility promote negative and destructive behavior, true acts of kindness, especially in the face of adversity, will help brighten not only your world, but those around you.
1. Mind your manners. Perhaps the easiest way to speak with kindness is to practice having good manners. It may seem fairly obvious, but we can all use a reminder from time to time. Yes, sometimes it is hard, but the term ‘hold your tongue’ is there for a reason. Whether speaking to a friend who upset you, a sibling, parent, a server at a restaurant or with colleagues who helped out with a project, incorporating a simple “please” and “thank you” into our interactions will help us speak with kindness that we are taught and have learned from infancy. Unless you were raised by cave-dwellers and banged over the head repeatedly.
Another great way to help with problems regarding ‘holding your tongue’ is to add these words before responding, “I understand that you think…” or “I understand that you feel. . .” or I understand that you believe,” to the beginning of your sentence. This not only let’s the person you are speaking with know that you are thinking about how she feels, and it let’s the person know that you are trying to have a rational exchange of conversation instead of responding in an offhand, callous, uncaring or other negative response.
2. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. This phrase is probably as old as time, yet with the hectic and sometimes frenzied world we live in, combined with hotheads, bitter tongues, and grumpy dispositions, it’s obviously hard to live by. Regardless, it is one we should all try to heed to.
It’s unnatural to think that you will never have a negative thought. We all have them. The little angel and the pitchfork on either shoulder that most people have seen in children’s cartoons is a great depiction of how our minds sometimes head straight for the negative and we can have, to put it nicely, “not-nice thoughts.”
Although we might all have, on occasion, a bad thought or two, that does not mean that we need to share them. Sharing negative thoughts is something we do have control over. For anyone who has been on the receiving end of harsh or cruel words (all of us have been through this), we know that these words sometimes stick and, unfortunately, can play a pretty important role in shaping the way we view ourselves and others. So… rather than saying something mean, malicious or tactless, we should try and focus on constructive, positive words and conversations. Yes, at times, it can be hard. The harder it is, the more of an indicator that it should be time to try the “zip the lip” strategy.
If your inner-pitchfork is having a hissy-fit, smother it by doing something extra nice. That’s one way the saying, ‘kill ’em with kindness’ earns its brownie points.
3. Give character compliments. Although it is quite nice to tell a friend she looks pretty, it doesn’t quite have the staying power as a kind word about her character. Is she generous, kind, loving, compassionate, confident, lively or brilliant? Tell her! Those types of compliments go a long way. Even better, they’re contagious. Women who are given meaningful compliments tend to copy the behavior and do the same. Talk about a win/win. Spread some positive and uplifting compliments and you will see that those around you are a little happier for it.
4. Avoid needless and upsetting gossip. Perhaps one of the worst killer’s of kindness is gossip. If you believe everything you hear, you might act or speak out regarding hearsay; all this does is create conflict. That is not to say that you can’t share some fun or uplifting tidbit, interesting information, or that you can’t tell your friends how another friend or colleague just won an award, or that someone you care about was promoted, or how beautiful someone’s photographs came out. Just keep it positive and no petty jealousy. Pettiness is not an attractive attribute. Who wants to be known as the Petty Prince or Jealous Shrew? You never hear someone talk about another person that is petty or jealous in a positive way. Petty and jealous always has a negative designation associated with it. Sure, a little gossip may make us feel included in a certain group or create a bond of some sort, but almost always… nothing good comes of needless and upsetting gossip.
Just remember that gossip can be cruel, and can break another person down. It has the potential to corrupt our view and may have nothing to do with reality. It can ruin friendships; it can impact and affect you negatively at work, and it can be quite damaging to your reputation. So if you can’t start the conversation behind someone’s back with with something positive, don’t do it. Examples of positive gossip: “I don’t know if you heard the wonderful or great news about (fill in the blank),” or “I am so proud of (so and so’s daughter…fill in the blank) for winning this award; she so deserves it.” If your gossip begins with “Did you hear how awful…, or You know (so and so’s) kid got in trouble for…” then it’s probably better to just skip the gossip altogether. Opting for conversation that adds real value to our relationships is such a powerful character builder and it shows people that you are truly a good person.
5. Spend a little time listening instead of talking. Let the weight of someone’s world be eased by spending a few minutes just listening. Sometimes all someone needs to do is vent, just to let out the events of the day. Keep in mind that you can not take this personally. If you can’t separate yourself (in a healthy way) from the emotions of your friend or family member, then you are doing both parties a disservice. This does not mean you don’t feel for the situation, but you must know that it is not your job to fix everyone’s problems. There are counselors who can offer tools to help people find the light at the end of the darkened tunnel. What you are there for, at this point in time, is just someone to listen to a rough day. This isn’t something you should do daily, but it is something that a friend or family member may call you regarding. Knowing that you can’t take away the person’s bad experience or offer a way to offload the burden, doesn’t mean you haven’t helped. Sometimes people just need to know that someone hears what they have to say. The response, “I feel for you,” or “I’ve been there,” or “I’m sorry you have to go through this,” can often help ease the other person’s stress just by knowing that someone understands how the other is feeling.
Following these 5 ways to create and promote kindness in the world, you will become one more person that can help brighten someone’s day.
About the author: Elana B. is a multi award-winning writer, advertiser, speaker and internationally published author. As a writer and ghostwriter she has written hundreds of stories from books to shorts to screenplays.
A gifted storyteller, Elana B.’s new children’s series, Too Terribly Busy and the “Too Terribly” Series of books, teach in a fun, creative way some of the most important lessons in life. Through this entertaining series of books, children will learn morals, manners, how important it is to achieve goals, as well as conflict resolution. Sneak peek of the first story in the new series: TooTerriblyBusy-SP1.
More by Elana B. and other helpful articles:
Overwhelmed – 7 Things You Can Do to Calm Down
Signs of Depression and How to Feel Good Again
8 Benefits of Regular Exercise
Heart Disease…The Ticking Time Bomb
30 Minutes of Physical Activity
Medical Conditions and Triglycerides
5 Tips to Help Improve Relationships
Natural Ways to Reduce High Blood Pressure
Happiness Is a State of Mind
Other great articles:
The Writer’s Life and How to Make Money as a Writer