Why we all need to be a bit kinder

February 23, 2020
be a bit kinder

Like most people, I felt really shocked and sad about Caroline Flack’s death. In all honesty, she wasn’t someone I had a huge opinion on. Yes, I knew her from Love Island but my focus has always been more on the contestants and who I think will stay together long term.

I felt particularly sad though because it seemed so easily avoidable. If only there’d be less press attention, trolling on social media, cancel culture and speculation about her life. If only people had been a little bit kinder.

How do we become kinder?

In my opinion, most people set out to be kind. I think it’s a rare beast that wakes up in the morning thinking, I’m going to be deliberately unpleasant today. 

Most of us can be both. I may write a wellbeing blog, but I’m not Gandhi. I get frustrated and lose my patience just like everyone else. There are hundreds of conversations that I’ve walked away from, thinking I could have handled that better. 

We can probably all make gentle steps towards being a bit kinder – me included. So how do we do this?

Others judge our behaviour, whilst we judge ourselves on intent

How many times has someone apologised to you using the words, that wasn’t my intention? The truth is, it doesn’t matter if your intentions are as pure as freshly driven snow; you’ve still hurt someone’s feelings.

Take two seconds to think about how you’re coming across. Do I really need to send this tweet? How will my email come across to the recipient? Maybe you’re intending to be funny, but your joke makes someone feel flat? 

Of course there are always going to be misunderstanding and miscommunications in life – but let’s try our best to choose our words with kindness. 

Opinion overload

Many years ago, I had a manager who would regularly say to me: I’m not interested in your opinion. What a rude man, I hear you say. How could he have said such harsh words to you? Well actually, he did me a favour. For the purposes of transparency, he also said it nicely.

He did me a favour because I was in my first job and whilst I thought I knew everything, I didn’t. I had lots of opinions on how we could do things better but I couldn’t substantiate them because I had nothing to base it on. Basically, I was trying to tell people far more experienced than me how to do their job and it must have been incredibly annoying. We live and learn…

The rise of social media has made it easier for us all to share our opinions. We can tweet and share how we feel in seconds. For the most part, that’s useful. I like to know recommendations for books, films and places to go. There are certain topics though that I question why we should feel it’s ok to have an opinion on? Is other people’s weight really a topic of conversation? Should other people’s problems become our entertainment?

Now, what I’m not saying is, we should all keep our thoughts and feelings to ourselves until one day we explode and no one knows why… I’m just saying do we always need to vocalise our opinions? Could we try and be a bit kinder?

Check your privilege

One of my personal bugbears is rudeness towards people in the service industry. I’m talking about being short with waitresses, not taking off your headphones when buying a coffee and getting shirty at cabin crew because we’re late to take off. Paying for a service doesn’t give you the right to be rude. 

There are power dynamics at play in most situations in life. I’m sure some of us have been in relationships where one person likes the other one more. In work, the higher up the food chain you go, the more influence you have over people lower down. Age, class, sex, race all come with their own dynamics. 

There are absolutely times when you do need to assert authority. There are just ways of doing it where you can be a bit kinder. Treat people as you’d like to be treated.

Putting other people down does not raise you higher

Honestly, whenever I witness someone putting somebody else down, my reaction is not, what a clever person that is. I just think, you’re a prat. It’s not a nice character trait to humiliate someone in front of other people.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, I’m not perfect… I find it cathartic to have a bit of a moan behind someone’s back from time to time and get a few things off my chest. Where I try and watch myself though is where it goes from a one-off into becoming a bit of a habit. It’s easy to comment on other people’s relationships, children, lifestyle choices – but personally I don’t feel I’m winning at any of those so I need to remind myself to wind my neck in.

Putting someone else down does give you a momentary boost but not to other people. It just makes you seem overly judgemental. 

Think about your personal brand

I know talking about personal branding makes me come across as though I’ve just read a ‘How to be a CEO’ handbook. However, I think there are principles we can apply to everyday life. Personal branding is essentially reflecting on a) how you come across to other people; and b) how you want to come across to other people. 

Let’s face it, humans are complicated creatures and we tend to have all sorts of light and shade within us. None of us are perfect. It’s worth reflecting on if there are parts of your character you’d like to dial back on and others you’d like to share more. What is your personal brand?

Your vibe attracts your tribe

I know your vibe attracts your tribe sounds like a motivational quote that circulates on instagram. I do believe strongly in it though: like attracts like.

So if you raise your vibrations, treat people like you’d like to be treated and focus on the good things in life; then you should meet more people like yourself. And you’ll have less time for those that don’t. Simples.

5 simple ways to be a bit kinder

  1. Say thank you. Two small words that make a big difference – try to say thank you as much as you can.
  2. Practice gratitude so you get in the habit of noticing the positives in life.
  3. Focus on good intent, rather than looking for reasons to criticise.
  4. Compliment people and recognise good deeds and behaviours.
  5. Smile.

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