Turn on your TV and you’ll quickly discern that this world could use a little more kindness.
Let’s face it, we can all be more kind. We can be more kind to our family and friends, our neighbors, strangers and even ourselves. Busyness shouldn’t be an excuse for being rude or curt. If you’re so busy that you take it out on everyone around you, it’s time for you to unplug. Treating people poorly simply isn’t the right answer to anything. Our success doesn’t require us to trample over everyone we encounter and sustainable success isn’t achieved by bulldozing our way to the top. Truly successful people know the value of treating others rightly. There is no ancient wisdom found anywhere that says treat others like crap and you’ll do well in life.
Please note that when I’m referring to our being kinder, I’m not talking about being more politically correct. All the concerted efforts by the politeness police to ensure we don’t offend anyone have actually exasperated the issue that I’m addressing. We’ve become way too PC while simultaneously allowing common courtesy to fall by the wayside.
In our 365/24/7 21st century global world, we have lost sight of simple boundaries. It’s okay if you want to work on your vacation; it’s not okay for you to expect everyone else follow suit. It’s certainly not okay for you to berate them for failing to meet this unreasonable demand. Along with the loss of boundaries has come the erosion of mindfulness—treating others with respect and kindness. You know…treating others like they have value. We’re in hurry, so we’re short with people. It’s ok if you’re in a hurry; it’s not ok to plow over people like they don’t exist or communicate that your time is somehow more precious than theirs. How do we, as simple individuals, help shift the tide to foster a kinder world? We can begin by practicing common courtesies.
What are some common courtesies?
1. Say “hello”. Greet people when you enter a room. I was raised to say hello to people when I came into a room that was already occupied.
2. Say “please” and “thank you”. Too often we simply blurt out our demand. To make matters worse we don’t take time to thank the person we demanded something of when they accomplish what we’ve tasked them with.
3. Address people by name. Address people by name even at the checkout line. My wife taught me this. It’s amazing, and it’s easy. They wear nametags for a reason; speak their name. “Thank you Jane”. “Have a great day John.” You may get a stunned look at first, followed by a big smile. There is simply no sweeter sound to a person’s ear than the sound of their own name.
4. Open the door. Don’t worry if it’s not the “in” thing to do; it’s the right thing to do. Always has been; always will be. It doesn’t matter if the person you’re holding the door for is male or female, young or old. Trust me, it will make an impact.
5. Look people in the eye. Look people in the eye when you talk to them. It’s simple.
6. Listen. When someone else is talking, listen. Don’t interrupt them; don’t cut them off; don’t think about how you are going to respond. Listen. From beginning to end.
7. Smile. A smile breaks down walls; it puts an exclamation point on all of the above.
Why it matters.
If you implement these simple common courtesies, you’ll be astounded by the results. Your relationships will improve and your overall happiness will skyrocket.
Kindness is contagious.
When you practice kindness, you communicate your value of others. You build their confidence; you empower them; you enrich them. You make a positive difference in their life. Perhaps your simple gesture will be just what they need to alter the course of their day. Treating others like you want to be treated is the most very basic idiom of human interaction. When we treat others with kindness, they tend to do the same for others. Before you know it, it spreads like a wildfire. It is a win-win for everyone. We will all benefit from a kinder world.
Despite all the advancements we’ve made in society, our world has become a ruder place than ever before. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You get what you expect or you get what you accept. Change begins with you and me. Give it a go. Begin with the very next person you meet. I think you’ll be blown away by the results. You’ll undoubtedly be blessed by being kind to others. Trust me. Try it. Start today.
Originally published by Rainer Bantau on LinkedIn on July 29, 2014