Responding with Kindness It's Simply Lindsay

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.

Responding with Kindness It's Simply Lindsay

Responding with Kindness It's Simply Lindsay

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.

Responding with Kindness It's Simply Lindsay

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.

Responding with Kindness It's Simply Lindsay

Oh, here’s my favorite:

Responding with kindness It's Simply Lindsay

Responding with kindness It's Simply Lindsay

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.

Lasting thoughts

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?

Tell me your stories about struggling with reacting to bullies. Share with me how you overcame the temptation to react negatively.

Also on HuffPost! If you want to know how to get published on Huffington Post, click here.

  • Justin Copeland

    I had a really nice comment typed out for Joel, but in the spirit of your post I deleted it.

    You have a kind way about you. And it rubs off on those around you. I’m lucky to know you.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      You are the kindest person in the world to me, and your comment made me smile : ) Good job, I’m glad this post rubbed off on you.

      • Omg this is pure gold. You helped Justin choose kindness!! 🙂

  • Patricia Hickey Rosasco

    Here’s my story……”I was taking a walk with a “friend,” and she said, “you know what? I just realized I’m the same weight as I was in high school.” I thought about it a moment and said, “you know what? I’m the same weight I was in high school, too!”

    Then she looked at me up and down and said, “Really? You were that big in high school?”

    Now, I didn’t say anything snide and it bothered me all day long. Actually, it bothered for months. And I’m still talking about it years later. My problem is when someone says mean statements with no filter or thought for the other person’s feelings, I get mad at myself for NOT having a witty retort. I wish I was Erica Kane from All My Children so that I could send a zinger.

    It probably doesn’t matter too much to my little story, but I will add that I am not overweight. And I no longer speak to this “friend.” Not because of this incident, but because of about 10 others that involved my family and friends.

    What would you have said to her?

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Oh what a lovely story : ) I know it well. Some people are mean girls. Some people are sad and mad inside about their lives or their own insecurities. Some people need to put others down to make themselves feel better. But would it honestly have made you feel better to have your witty jab back at her, to know that you made her feel as bad as she tried to make you? Then you’re no better than she, and you ARE. I know how that is though; I lay in bed sometimes concocting the PERFECT retorts to people who really deserve it after the things they have said to me, but in the end, as long as I stand up for myself tactfully, I am okay with that. I would have said, “well if you think I am big, then yes, I was this big in high school.” From this case especially, it comes down to her warped views on body image, so that’s really on her. There’s nothing you can do to change that nor could you have changed her from continuing to say mean things to you, so I think it’s best that you severed that tie. You can only be a good friend for so long and take so much.

  • Oh my gosh! I literally LOL’ed at your response to the jerk who called you “butterface”. You go girl!
    I really love this article. Kindness is so quickly forgotten today. I have always believed it’s easier to be kind to someone than to be nasty to them. Seriously. Being rude/nasty takes so much more effort than just being kind!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      You’re right – who wants all of that gross negative energy that really does take so much energy??!! No thank you : )

  • Paige Allison

    The best part is all the grammar errors in the jerks who rudely comment behind the guise of their computer screen! Ha! Get an education, losers. But see, now I’m not responding with kindness. I find that really, extremely hard to do… I should take a page from your book on that! I find it’s best to not comment at all, and just let it go. And if it’s a really rude comment, I message it to my girlfriends and we have a good laugh at it (bark on, chihuahua, bark on!) You’re a better person than I am, that’s for sure!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      hahaha, you make me laugh, per usual. I don’t understand when people comment just to be rude; like, if you’re going to disagree with me, let’s have an intelligent conversation about it! Let’s not bark to bark. Definitely not a better person than ANYONE, it’s just something I’ve always believed in. It’s not right or wrong, better or worse, it’s just my style.

  • My go to motto is compassion is always in fashion. I try to take the high road when I can, but it isn’t always easy.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I love that, Beth!! You’re very right that the high road isn’t always easy, but in the end, I ultimately think it’s best.

  • Oh my gosh people are ridiculous. I can’t even handle these comments. I want to crawl out of my skin and get out of character but I can’t. You took it like a champ.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      You just have to think that those people have so much negativity running through them and that’s just too bad for them, right?

  • Tiffany {A Touch of Grace}

    Oh girl I love this! It can be so hard to respond to mean people with kindness, but these tips are great. I could definitely take a cue from you sometimes. 🙂
    People who respond negatively to HuffPo articles always kill me. Go ahead and hide behind your computer screen while you bash someone who’s willing to put themselves out there and be heard. I never understood it. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks for reading! The negative comments really bother my family members, my husband and sister especially, but you just have to think about the source, and when you consider the source, you really cannot feel bad about it.

  • Brianna

    Yikes. As much as I WANT a post of mine to go viral…this is why I am scared of it actually ever happening.:) People can be so mean. I like your kind responses. Kindness certainly does win.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      People are always going to be mean; in the end, they took their time to read and re-read my article, so score for me! haha.

      • Brianna

        So true! And their comments just make you actually look better with your kind responses:)

        • Lindsay Katherine

          Yes!! Exactly.

  • Ariel Pingault

    This is SUCH a great post!!! There’s nothing better than killing people with kindness, especially when they make such silly remarks like in your examples. Butter face? What. You’re a master at this and I loved reading your tips! Thanks for sharing!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Hey thanks so much for reading and for your remark. I often wonder if killing someone with kindness is actually aggressive (passive aggressive), but ultimately I don’t care. I still think it’s a better way to go and can be subtly mean and funny ; )

  • I thoroughly loved reading this. Right from that first question of how can someone say that until responding with kindness. Just brilliant! I think such long posts with meaning need to be read by everyone and appreciated. Good job! 🙂

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Oh thanks so much for taking the time to read it! I’m glad you found meaning in this and appreciate your comment.

  • People have no idea how much we put ourselves out there as bloggers. Seriously when people are behind a screen with a keyboard they can be so vicious. That is like the GOMI forum have you ever read it? Those people are so horrible. You handled this with so much grace and I’m fully with you about kill them with kindness and just keep on doing you. This was such a good read!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I haven’t ever read GOMI, but now I am interested in at least checking it out! Thank you for your comment though, I appreciate it. It’s best to just take the higher road and leave the haters with their hate.

  • I love this post and did a similar one on my own blog last week ( about how to deal with difficult people. In addition to having compassion and being kind, sometimes you just gotta ignore the jerk. I love what you said about not burning bridges… SUCH A GOOD POINT. People need to think more about how a snarky comment in passing can do major damage in the long run (also, they need to think about how their own behavior can trickle down and affect their children). It took me almost 30 years to learn to keep my big mouth shut, and if you’re going to express a negative opinion about someone, make sure you say it to someone who will never tell a soul (for me, this limited to my sister/mother/husband). Love your reminder. Also, I did read your article on Huffington post and enjoyed your perspective, even though I personally changed my own last name when I was married. I’ve had stuff published on Today Show/ Huff Po, but nothing that has gone “viral” or was “controversial” enough to elicit a negative reader response. That said, most of the “big” bloggers say you should never ever ever ever read the comments, because there are so many hurtful internet trolls out there who will be ugly just for the sake of being ugly. Your replies were classy, but maybe it would be better just to not read it altogether in the future. Why read that hurtful garbage? Just keep on doing your own awesome thing. Cheers!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Jennifer, I will have to check out your post! Great minds think alike : ) You are completely right about sometimes just having to ignore someone. I was sort of bullied at my job by someone higher up than I was; it was awful. I would cry in the bathroom and hate going to work, but then I realized what this person was, a bully, and chose to ignore it. Excellent advice. My go-to people are the same as yours: sister, husband, mom, and one other best friend. I wanted to read the comments, even the negative ones, to teach my high school students how to assert yourself nicely without getting sucked into online bullying. It was a bit of an experiment for them to see, but again, I like your advice about ignoring it in the future. Glad for this new connection – heading over to your blog now.

  • This is a great post! I am usually good about responding with kindness, but my problems lies in being able to internalize that same kindness. I simply have a problems not letting someone else’s negativity ruin my mood and cause me to suppress the hurt. I’m working on it everyday.

    • This. So much this.:-

    • Lindsay Katherine

      That is a very tough thing to overcome; I don’t know if you can truly overcome this completely, but you can certainly work towards minimizing that hurt. My family and friends, especially my sister, are astounded that I don’t internalize things, but I think it’s because I really do consider the source. Even if it’s coming from a friend or someone I respect, I have to think that something bad in them is coming out, trying to put me down, and that’s a problem within them not me.

  • Oh man… I loved this! I am in the middle of a gross situation where I neeeeed to be practicing this. But it’s exhausting. 😉 I am almost always extremely polite in online conversations, even to the point of sometimes not being able to contribute to conversations in case someone should happen across my comment and take offense. But in this IRL situation, I have just felt bullied in the extreme and shut down, stopped responding. If I can’t trust myself to respond gracefully, better not to respond at all? I hate to say it, but it DOES seem there’s a limit to my ability to be nice. 🙁

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Hey, and that’s okay Katie!! You can ONLY take so much, truly. I never would ask someone to be a victim of bullying, and sometimes you can’t respond nicely. You have to be assertive and forceful. I’m sorry for whatever you’re dealing with!!! Feel free to message me : )

  • First off, people say CRAZY stuff on the internet. It really does blow my mind sometimes what people feel empowered to say! I love all your points above though. Responding with kindness is usually the quickest way to de-escalate a situation and can shift other people’s attitudes so quickly. And if it doesn’t, you haven’t set yourself up for a massive argument or more harsh and hurtful words! I love this picture of giving grace when it’s undeserved. It’s beautiful!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks, Lauren! I wish I could share more stories of other face-to-face interactions, but like one of my points says, you don’t want to burn bridges : ) Don’t want to risk anything. It always catches me completely off guard when someone chooses to confront me because I’m such a non-confrontational person!! Giving grace to deserving people is easy, and I’m always up for a challenge.

    • Goodness gracious, I agree — people say CRAZY stuff! Lindsay, I love how you invite people to share their own viewpoints and defuse hostile comments with kindness. You’re a classy lady!

  • Dana Brillante-Peller

    I absolutely love the way you responded to Joel! My big quote is “Kill them with kindness.” Also, “Karma is a B*tch 🙂

    • Lindsay Katherine

      hahhaha I love your second mantra about karma – very true. That’s why it’s best to not be a meanie.

  • Holy cow! I skimmed through this before when I posted it on my FB page and vowed to come back and read it when I had time. WOW is all I can say. I admire you SO much. For respecting others’ opinions and for choosing to be positive and kind when you could have taken the other route. I hope that you share this with your students and show them your example of how you can respond to negativity with kindness. I’m sure being in the social media age that your students deal with cyber bullying all the time on Instagram and Facebook. I can’t believe how much PATIENCE you have. And omg Lindsay- reading what Joel wrote INFURIATES ME to no end. First of all- you are beautiful and do NOT have a butterface!!! Just had to clarify that. Secondly- how you were able to respond so respectfully and humorously is a GIFT in itself. My oh my. I can’t believe how mean people can be.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      haha your comment made me smile. Thanks for reading and sharing, Chels! If only I could share some of the things people have confronted me about to my face – but that could break my rule about things coming back to you. Certainly for private conversations though : ) I plan on sharing it with my students and showing them that when you’re attacked, you have a choice. It might not seem like it in the moment, but whether online or in person, you have a choice. Don’t stoop to their level or cower at your bully. Thanks so much for your response; it made my day.

      • Yes, I would love to hear what your students have to say about this as well!!! And kudos to Justin for now beating the guy up! lol

  • “Being kind does not mean being a doormat. If someone is unkind, there is a problem with them, not you.”I have to remind myself about this very often. I think it also has to do with boundaries… if I keep negative, manipulative people in my life, the cycle will only continue. Being kind doesn’t necessarily mean being a doormat, it can be standing up for yourself, or another person.

    Great thoughts, sister. I also like the graphic “Don’t give in to the dark side, it isn’t pretty there.” Hilarious. Saving it to my phone now. 🙂

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I’m so glad this post resonated with you; thank you for reading! I also like my dark side graphic = it’s so true : )

  • I love this post! There is so much truth behind it. I am so impressed with how you handled such comments from your Huffington post, thanks for sharing! It truly impresses me that people can be so offended and rude to others. If you were talking to each other face to face I guarantee no one would respond in such a hostile way. Seeing those types of comments can be so disheartening but you stayed true to your values, decisions, and beliefs and didn’t let anyone get you down. Amazing!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment, Chandler. I’ve even had people say some pretty astounding things to my face, so it’s not all just hiding behind your computer screen. You’re right though, it is impressive : )

  • This is a great post Lindsay! I know when I was younger, when someone would say or so something unkind to me, I would came back lashing out. As I’ve gotten older I learned that lashing out doesn’t always make things better. It sure didn’t make me feel better after I sat down and thought about what I had done to get back at them. Stepping back and really thinking about the bigger picture and being the bigger person is really important. As you said that doesn’t mean being a pushover.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      You totally have it right; by responding to negativity with negativity, the situation just escalates. You’ll just be going back and forth, getting more heated and nasty, and honestly nothing gets accomplished that way!!

  • Wow…you are a strong woman and I give you so much credit for responding to those negative comments with poise and grace. I cannot believe some of those comments…I guess those people are seriously broken.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      You are right, Kim – that’s the way I see it, and that’s why I choose to not let those comments get to me.

  • Wow, so many rude people but you are handling the criticism so well!
    I can’t believe the butter face comment — so unnecessary.

    xoxo, Jenny

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Ah yes, my favorite comment : ) I agree, completely unnecessary, but in the end, it just makes him look like a mean person.

  • I needed to read this today, girl! My makeup tutorial for Contouring go boosted on facebook by the company who sponsored it and when I saw the ad on my way home from the cruise I was completely shocked. There were so many negative and mean comments on it about my looks, my techniques, my integrity (someone called me a liar for saying the foundation wasn’t cakey) etc. It was a shot to the gut at first, but then I slowly got over it. It’s just makeup! If people have the time to express negative opinions about the way I do my makeup, then that’s their problem, not mine!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Chelsie, I’m so glad this came at a good time for you, but I am NOT happy with your own similar experience. I want to see this video, will you include the link? First of all, you are beautiful, but that goes without saying. Second of all, I will never understand why people choose to attack other people at all, but especially for their looks. Those people sound crazy. Some products that work great for me and my normal/oily skin do not work for my sister with normal/dry skin, so it’s ridiculous people are questioning your integrity with your description of the product. I’m sorry you had to deal with that stuff; I always just focus on the people you are connecting with, inspiring, and helping – leave the trolls behind.

  • This is totally something we all could learn. Your response to the butterface thing was cracking me up. Your confidence is the best!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I’m glad to give you a little laugh today : )

  • ZJ

    Can I just say how awesome you are with your kind and thoughtful responds ! Bravo.