You’ve heard the phrase “kill them with kindness” as a way to deal with difficult people. Well lately I’ve had a situation involving some very difficult people and rather than responding to them with the same level of what I judged as rudeness, I chose to act kindly. In my conversations and email correspondences, I was friendly and clearly stated my intention to resolve the issue between us in a peaceful way. Yet with each exchange, the response I received seemed more and more unreasonable and downright mean. Kindness wasn’t working. If anyone was getting killed, it felt like me.
Then it hit me, I wasn’t being kind from an authentic place, I was acting kindly. I wanted something, specifically for the situation to be resolved in the way I wanted because I felt wronged. I had been using kindness as a way to try and manipulate the situation! Although I was smiling, doing kind gestures and using nice words, in my mind I was killing them with anger and judgment while feeling hurt.
Have you ever acted kindly outwardly toward someone while inwardly judging them? Have you ever been extra nice hoping it would get you want you want? For instance, perhaps you act incredibly kind to someone who you feel hurt you just so you can prove that you are the “bigger” person. Or maybe you are extra nice to a hostess when you are trying to get the table you want, but then that kindness quickly fades after you’re seated when you are short with the waiter because he got your order wrong.
When we are trying to manipulate a situation or someone’s opinion about us by merely acting kind we are coming from our ego. But true kindness comes from our heart, not our head. Authentic kindness is also consistent rather than something we turn on when it feels useful.
In my situation I had an opportunity to recognize this, apply some kindness to myself and gently coax myself off my position of “they are wrong and I am right.” I was able to see the situation from a different perspective and let go of my attachment to wanting them to be nice back to me. De-personalization was a major key. Sometimes people just are upset and it’s not our job to “kill them with kindness” until they are not upset anymore. Once I really got this I was able to come from place of loving kindness with no attachment to wanting any kindness in exchange.
I encourage you to be conscious of truly being kind, rather than just acting kindly. Our nature is to be kind and it just feels better to truly come from this place. You’ll also start to notice that when you set the intention to extend loving kindness to everyone, you’ll get a lot more back in return. It may not be from the people that your ego may want it; however, I assure you that the kinder you are, the more you will be the recipient of random acts of kindness.
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Christine Hassler is a certifed life and quarterlife coach. To visit her website click here.