Is it possible to be “kind” in today’s world? Won’t you get eaten up and spit out if not swallowed whole? Somebody posed this question the other day and its worth reflecting on. My contention is that being kind is part of the value of Respect; one of the key elements of the Character Triangle. So does being kind mean being weak? Absolutely not.
Being kind is actually a state of strength. It usually means you are present; aware of your surroundings. You can see and sense how to interact in a kind and polite way. But being nice doesn’t mean being a pushover – on the contrary. You can disagree and even point out inappropriate behavior in a direct and tough-minded way. The key is to focus on the behavior and not to imply or state a negative view of the person as an individual. Calling you a jerk doesn’t help when you cut me off in traffic. You likely didn’t even know you did or you had some other situation distract you. But once I call you a jerk and you flip me off, well things get personal.
If someone raises their voice in anger at you, you are within your rights to firmly state that this behavior is not acceptable. If this person wants to have a constructive dialogue with you they can be angry and they can be tough, but they can still be kind. The action of being kind usually disappears when one treats others in a way that attacks or ignores their sense of being. When actions toward others are rude, insensitive and /or oblivious; it is not kind. Nor is it in my opinion, necessary. Nice guys do win and in my opinion, in order to do so they have to be the toughest and strongest people of all.
My historical observation is that those people considered unkind are also least successful in the long run. They are often the most fearful and insecure. They make others feel bad to momentarily feel better. Who do you like to spend time with and work with? Kind people.
Be respectful. Be kind. Be tough.