Be Kind to One Another
It seemed to happen in slow motion, and yet I couldn’t find a reasonable solution in the moment. I was in a busy airport refilling my water bottle at the fountain. I heard a loud voice but couldn’t be sure whether it was coming from someone being loud and fun or loud and mean. In fact, I couldn’t even find the source of the booming voice for a few seconds. Airports are full of people jetting off to exotic vacations, and sometimes the boisterous voices I hear are simply those of friends and family members who are excited to be escaping the stresses of real life for a while.
A few seconds later, though, I realized this loud voice wasn’t a ‘can’t wait to hit the beach’ kind of voice. This was a callous voice, a cruel one. And it came from what looked like a father to his pre-teen daughter. I heard it louder now as they got closer. “Think, think, think! What are you stupid or something?” At that point, he poked her on top of her head not in a powerful way that might hurt her physically, but, rather, in an emotional way that may hurt her for years to come.
“Be kind to one another.”
This is how Ellen DeGeneres closes her talk show every single day. I’ve always thought it’s such a cool way to close the show, and I think of myself as a kind person. As I watched the malicious way this father communicated with his daughter, though, I seemed stuck in the moment. I looked at a woman standing near me, and we gave each other looks that said, “Poor girl. How unfortunate. I can’t believe this is happening.” And neither of us moved.
This incident happened three weeks ago, and I still find myself thinking about it. Was there a way I could have helped in that moment? Was there something I could have said to the dad in his heightened state that would have helped deescalate the situation? I can’t be sure.
What I can be sure of is that there ARE ways we can actually work on being kind. Every day. Without fail. Even in difficult situations when the other person isn’t being very kind.
1. Show empathy.
We know what it means- the ability to understand and share the feelings of another- and we know we should empathize with others. But do we do it? Or do we look at a situation, listen to a person’s comments, watch how a person behaves, and make instant judgments about that person? When I find myself in less-than-pleasant situations, I try to look at it from the other person’s point of view. With the angry dad, I’ve wondered if his daughter had done something that could have harmed her, and her dad was reacting out of fear for what might have happened to his precious offspring.
2. Slow down.
We are a society of people on hamster wheels. We have too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. So when someone else slides into the parking spot we’ve been scooting down the lane to get to, kindness isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Slow down. Take a breath. Actually tell yourself that parker isn’t out to get you. He was just in the same boat you’re in- the boat of needing to park!
3. Assume best intentions.
Sticking with that parking space example, many of us tend to jump to conclusions and think others are purposely messing with our mojo! We make assumptions that others are out to harm us in some way. On the flip side, people who exhibit kindness consistently assume not that others are out to get them but rather that others do indeed have good intentions. As an empowerment coach and trainer, I am asked frequently how I can let some behaviors go, how I can assume people really do have the best intentions. I often reply with questions. If you assume worst intentions in others, is it helping you live the life you really want to be living? Is flying off the handle at someone else allowing you to be the person you want to be? Does it make the situation better by assuming the worst?
Because I experienced the incident in the airport with the father and daughter, I’ve taken time to consider how to handle a situation like this in the future. The bottom line is when we are kind, we show others we care. And when others sense that genuine care, concern, and kindness, they see the person we are at our core. So make it a mission to be kind to one another. Always.
This article by Tracy Bianco was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.