One of my greatest, natural strengths since I was a kid is the ability and desire to respond to negativity with kindness. I have been getting questioned, especially recently, with people inquiring how I have it in me to respond kindly and why I choose to respond that way. There is no mystery here, and I’m happy to share this with you, but only keep reading if you choose to really have an open mind.
The people who act rudely, maliciously, or who are overtly judgmental need kindness the most, even when they’re taking serious jabs at you. Think about it – when you’re attacked, do you ever think, “Wow, how could XYZ say that to me? How can you talk to someone like that?” It’s a valid question – how can someone have it in them to be so nasty and hurtful? People say or write things that you could never fathom saying out loud. But something from within these people is broken, and even if you are hurt from it, it’s only a sad byproduct of the true issue – a real, internal problem within that person.
Responding to Negativity With Kindness
Why respond with kindness?
Let kindness prevail: If you allow a negative person to elicit an equally negative response to them, they are winning, and that just makes my heart hurt. We want kindness to win! Don’t give into the dark side. It’s not pretty there.
Stay true to yourself: While it may feel good momentarily to respond back to someone with equally nasty force, chances are afterwards upon reflection, things will not sit right with you. Stay true to yourself and exercise your higher ability to remain composed and kind, even in difficult situations.
You are stronger: To act rudely can often be the easy way out. You don’t have to exercise self control; you can let those bubbling angry emotions burst out to “feel better” or have the last word. But will you feel good about that? Ultimately, I believe by exercising more control than your callous counterpart, not only do you stand on higher ground, but you show that you’re stronger than giving into that temptation.
Everything comes back to you: Your reputation is important, and especially in this day in age of easily documenting everything, it’s more crucial than ever to keep a good image to your name. Even though you should act kindly for yourself, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra incentive. What you think is a closed door conversation can easily be creatively summarized and posted on social media. You could burn bridges with someone who may have social or professional influence over you in the future. Even if you think it could never come back, it always can. And usually does, when you least expect it. You never have to worry about being kind though.
How to respond with kindness
Being kind doesn’t mean being a pushover: This is very important to remember; choosing kindness doesn’t mean you have to quietly act as a punching bag to your bullies. You should assert your position and stand up for yourself with grace and tact.
Remember who you’re dealing with: In a moment of ugly confrontation, everything feels heightened. You have adrenaline surging through your body, your heart is pumping double time, and your insides are quivering with rage. Take a moment to breathe (literally…you should do this) and consider who you’re dealing with. Consider that your counterpart is so unhappy that she or he chooses to stoop low and attack you. You’re not dealing with a happy, stable person, and you should care about that. Honestly, it’s too bad for that person, and I hope once you get past your anger that you wish them well. They need well wishes more than most.
Strategies to combat stress: When you are attacked, your body physically changes to respond, and these changes can make you feel like the only thing you can do is shut down or viciously attack. Check out these 11 Ways to Combat Stress Right Now and start practicing these skills. A calm, focused you will be able to respond kindly.
Examples of responding with kindness
When you’re a writer, no matter what you write about, you’re opening yourself up to people who may disagree with you, and that’s okay! In fact, I believe we should embrace controversy, but that doesn’t mean being rude. I love having conversations with people when we have different points of views because how boring would life be if we all felt the same way?
But there are smart ways to disagree and easy ways of attacking someone that make you look obtuse and foolish. While I do have real-life examples of verbal/face-to-face confrontations, for now I’ll share with you some recent ways I responded to negativity with kindness. These were in response to blogs that I wrote that went viral on Huffington Post that show how people choose to act online.
This person chooses to call me selfish and be sarcastic while he mocks my position, so I made sure I thanked him for reading (I love anyone who reads my stuff!) and try to approach him from a calm and collected way so we could engage in a meaningful conversation.
I like to keep an open mind for people who disagree with me, just like I ask people to keep an open mind when hearing my thoughts. By paraphrasing what this reader said, I show her that I’m listening to what she’s saying yet still assert myself so I’m not her punching bag.
Oh, here’s my favorite:
Okay, for this one I stepped into passive aggressive a bit, but there is really no way I could be completely kind to this. Insult my intelligence, insult my writing – those are things I am in control of and can defend. Insulting the way someone looks is sad and pointless. Move on from comments like this.
So remember gals and guys, kindness is cool. Being kind does not mean being a doormat. If someone is unkind, there is a problem with them, not you. Those who are mean need kindness and care THE MOST. Are you willing to accept and practice this?