This post is excerpted from a longer one on The Hermits’ Rest blog. We are sharing it here, because trying to be kind when not treated kindly applies to our real estate work, too!
I have been struggling with kindness in some areas of my life. Since being kind is important to me, I’m trying to build new patterns and attitudes toward people I come across. To be honest, there are always people we find hard to be kind to, whether it’s someone who treats us or another person rudely, the person whose driving puts you in danger, or a coworker with no boundaries (made-up examples; please don’t worry if I am referring to you).
The book I am reading for the work book club, Happier Now, has a chapter on this topic, and I happened to read it right when I was already thinking about how to be kind to people who aren’t kind to you. When I read their suggestions, I realized I already practiced their ideas to some extent.
The book invites you to think up some reason that the irritating person’s behaving that way. Do they have a sick relative they are worried about? Did they just get fired? Are they upset with someone else and taking it out on you? Are they feeling insecure about the situation you’re both in?
I used to drive my friend Jeff crazy by telling him the car that cut him off hadn’t set out that day to make his life miserable, but might be thinking about something else, in some huge hurry for a good reason, or just distracted, not malicious. I do that when people are rude in stores, too.
Some rudnesses are harder than others to react in kindness to, and sometimes, in the moment, I blow it and express my raw feelings, unedited. That pretty much never helps. Yes, of course I am allowed to let the other person know that their behavior bothered me, hurt me, embarrassed me, or whatever, but there is always a way to react with kindness as well as truth. That’s just the way I want to BE in the world. I want to state my truth without putting others down or straining relationships. I want to build relationships, even with difficult people I’m going to place boundaries around.
For the past couple of days, I have been working on some relationships in my life to try to figure out underlying reasons they behave how they do and I behave how I do. It’s been hard as hell, but very useful. In the long run, I figure I’ll get better and better, and be more of my “higher self” when interacting with all kinds of people.
One more thing: I do not expect others to act from the same principles that I do. For example, Lee is not at all into finding kinder ways to react to people. He finds that is not a part of his goals, which are to be truthful and, as he puts it, blunt. He expects people to take him at face value, and is not overly concerned if he hurts anyone’s feelings, as long as he makes his point clearly. As a hermit, he can deal with any consequences, and feels like he is treating people fairly.
I know that about Lee, and bear it in mind when interacting with him, just as I take most things said by people I know well with an understanding of their personalities and preferred communication styles. I can’t do it with everyone yet, but by golly I’m working on it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on challenges to kindness, or whether kindness is worth it. I happen to know many people who find it a waste of time, so I’m curious.Hermann says please like and share!