“Well, in my opinion…”
“You should just do/say…”
“I’m entitled to do/say whatever I want.”
“You’re an idiot.”
These are just some of the things I have heard from people lately. I get it. Our world feels pretty messed up right now. Between fighting about whose life matters, politics, parenting, terrorism and <insert world issue here> we all feel like we need to make our voice heard, our opinions clear and known. But, what we’re missing is the kindness – in our words and in our hearts. People have forgotten (or just plain don’t care) that it IS possible to make yourself heard, to state your opinion or lay down the facts as you see them, without pissing everyone off around you. I truly believe this is possible, because we have access to all the kind words out there. We have the ability to stop, for just a moment before speaking and temper our words, so that they will actually have an AFFECT on people and not just set the listener up to feel judged, unheard or defensive.
For example, you’re talking to someone with an opposing view on politics. They just said their candidate has all the answers, will be the best thing for this country and always tells the truth. Boiling blood rushes through your veins and your first response is to say, “That’s asinine! That’s not the truth and here’s why.” You then proceed to list some VERY valid points supporting your statement of untruth. But, your listener is gone. They’re not hearing you. They are feeling angry, defensive and are only sitting there politely as you speak, forming their response in their head. Your message has been lost and you’ve made someone feel bad.
Enter the Kind Words.
Your friend has just said the exact same thing, that you still believe is asinine. It has your blood boiling, because you have your valid reasons for disputing this. What if you countered with, “I can see where you are coming from and that’s really interesting. I think I’m more inclined to think about it this way, because of what I have read.” Then you proceed to cite the information you have. Your listener is now more likely to feel validated, heard and is more likely to be interested now in what you have to say. Because you didn’t make them feel like an asshat for their opinion.
It’s become very easy to say whatever comes to mind when our emotions have been triggered, with the anonymity of social media. This is not an excuse to forgo human decency and throw kindness out the window. It may feel good in the moment, to let someone know how stupid you think they are, how angry they’ve made you or how they just can’t spell (another lost art), but once you hit Enter and your raging comment is out there, that bad juju is out in the world for everyone to feed off of. And feed they do, like hungry sharks.
If we take a moment to pause and ask ourselves, how we will be helping anyone with spewing hatred, anger, or judgement, either online or in person, I think we’d be hard pressed to find the value or goodness in it. If we approach opposition with an open mind and a kind heart, we might actually have an opportunity to affect change; to really have someone listen and hear what we are saying. They may process it and find that nothing has changed, but they will not be angry. They will not walk away with frustration as their friend. They will have no hatred to spread to their family and friends, “Can you BELIEVE what this jerk said…”
It could stop with you, today.
Let kindness win. Always.