My pet peeve today is the epidemic of rudeness, disrespect and unkindness in our world. Face it, we live in an unkind world. Being unkind is so prevalent that we are becoming desensitize to it. Let me show you what I mean.
Click on almost any trending post on social media and read the comments. People are rude to each other, they call names, they attack, they use expletives, they get angry when someone disagrees. With social media it is easy to be basically anonymous. You don’t actually know the people you are rude to and they don’t know you. For some reason we feel this makes our bad behavior acceptable.
Pick almost any popular sitcom on tv. It’s common for family members to hurl insults at each other, to get angry and yell at each other while blaming and name calling. Then the laugh track comes on and we are encourage to find it funny and laugh. Aren’t we basically allowing ourselves to be trained to be unkind?
How about late night talk show hosts like Jimmy Kimmel or Seth Meyers, or most mainstream comedians for that matter. Their version of humor is nothing more than to disrespect, insult or demean someone they dislike or disagree with. We laugh at this and even model it in our social circles, then expect our children to be held to a different standard.
Watch kids on the play ground. Being bullied is just part of childhood anymore. You come to expect it. Kids insult each other, they are selfish, they think nothing of being rude to one another and calling out insults at every turn. Sadly, they have learned this behavior because we haven’t taught them better and fail to model kindness in our own lives.
I was raised in a different world. We were taught that if you don’t have something nice to say, you don’t say anything at all. We were taught to treat others the way you want to be treated. Do I always get it right? No, I don’t and I am the first to confess I have acted unkindly more times than I would care to admit.
The good news is that kindness is contagious just as much as unkindness is. So how do you model kindness in such an unkind world?.
Start by saying please and thank you. Just this simple act, shows others you have respect for them. Model this behavior in your home in front of your kids and spouse.
Treat others the way you want to be treated. Hold the door open for the person behind you. If your shopping cart is full to the top, let the mom behind you holding two items go through the checkout first. Bring your spouse a cup of coffee or a soda when you get one for yourself.
Watch your temper. We all get angry, but you don’t need to take it out on others. Do you really need to flip off the driver who cut you off? No, you don’t! You can ignore it and move on with your life.
Don’t take the bait. Just because someone is rude or disrespectful of you, doesn’t mean you need to reciprocate in kind. Take the high road and model kindness instead. I grew up calling this “heaping coals of fire on your enemies head”. Say something kind or simply walk away.
Watch your words. Words can be healing or they can be painful and deadly. People have committed suicide over the the spoken word.
Use words that are respectful, uplifting, kind and encouraging. It is possible to disagree with someone without insulting, name calling and cursing. Sometimes it is enough to just say, “I disagree with you.” If you feel you cannot show respect when you speak, then it is better to say nothing. Not every opinion you have needs to be shared. A rule of thumb I try to keep in mind is that if something I want to say is not going to accomplish something good, then I need to keep it to myself.
Do you really need to yell? No, you do not. I actually hate arguing and yelling. I was raised by a father who I never once heard raise his voice to my mother. My mother would get angry and yell and slam cupboard doors, but my father would never yell back. His response was always calm and in doing so, their disagreements would never escalate.
You don’t need to yell in order for your opinion to be heard and I teach my children that it is inappropriate to yell at people just because you disagree or are angry.
Spread some cheer. What about smiling when you see people whether you know them or not? When I am at my office I make it a point to smile at everyone who walks through the door. It immediately sets the mood for our entire interaction.
Here is an exercise to try. Next time you are on social media and are tempted to take the bait in a negative discussion, smile before you respond. Consider your words and perhaps don’t respond at all. Put on a smile before you respond to a family member or acquaintance who has pushed your buttons. For most people, just the physical act of smiling lifts your mood and can soften your tone.
Practice saying nice things. Compliment your spouse on something they have done. Say you appreciate them. Tell your child you like the way they made their bed. Tell the clerk at the grocery store you like her shoes. Sometimes it’s the simple things that can make a change. I personally think kindness can change the world and starts right at home. Let’s make this world a friendlier place to live in.