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Mar 15, 2021

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Kindness costs nothing.


Kindness costs nothing, but when emotions are heightened it can sometimes go straight out the window.


I get it!


It’s been a heck of a year and last week was a heck of a week with a lot of divisive opinions online.


It’s as if you can feel the tension rising.


So many people have been holding in emotions for a long time.  They are bound to come out somewhere.


I spoke to SO many clients and people last week who just felt heavy.


Weighed down by what was going on.


I felt it too.


There was drama, there was nastiness. 


There was an us vs them mentality everywhere I looked. 


There were ill thought out opinions, stubbornness, ego reactions left right and centre.


Unless you live under a rock or off grid or choose your media very wisely the first thing that caused a lot of tension was that we had the interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.


My goodness did that divide opinion.  


It led to some very heated debates but really when you strip it back you had a young couple wanting something simple.


For people to be kind.


For the nastiness, assumptions and negativity to stop.


To have the opportunity to defend themselves against millions of people worldwide who don’t know them!


Whether you think it was a good thing or a bad thing and whatever judgements you make about the way they went about it is of course completely up to you.


But it was certainly a conversation starter around why some people feel the need to be unkind and also why it’s something we fear happening in business that stops people getting visible.


The conversations this week turned to privilege, mental health, racism, women’s safety, sexual harassment and more.  


Some big HEAVY stuff!


Things that will have personally touched most of our lives in some way shape or form.


There was anger.  


There was hate.


There was upset.


There were debates about right and wrong.


Emotions were running high.


When that happens most people won’t take a second to step back and try to see all sides of the coin.


In amongst ALL of this, I was seeing blaming.  Shaming.  Name calling. Down right abuse in some cases.  


Intentionally trying to bring others down, calling people out with the intention of damaging reputation or businesses and we need to do better.


What’s the point?


What’s another way?


There’s standing up for what’s right and there’s being nasty.  


In my opinion two very different intentions and two very different outcomes.


One has the potential to question thoughts and behaviour and potentially make REAL change.


The other is just going to create more ego and escalate the situation and emotions further.


We need to seek to understand each other more.


We’re all up against our own unconscious bias, our upbringing, what we’ve been taught as children what environment we were raised in. What we modelled from our parents.  What we were taught is acceptable and what isn’t.


There’s a LOT of unconscious programming driving our behaviour and our protection mechanisms.


We need to get out of reaction mode and think a little more deeply.


Imagine if we all took a minute to step back before we reacted to something.  Would we make a different decision over how to handle it?


You see it in the online business world all the time.


People tearing each other down. 


Being quick to lash out. 


It’s a big reason people sabotage themselves in putting themselves out there in the first place. The fear of nastiness being aimed at them.


So it’s an important conversation to have on both sides I think.


To know when it happens TO you, it’s usually nothing actually about you at all.


It’s more often than not something that has been triggered in the other person.


But also, if you’ve been the one to lash out.  


That’s an important conversation to have.


Understanding where that comes from in the hope you may not feel the need to take that route again.


We’re all bouncing off each other's egos ALL the time and reacting unconsciously.


But often the thing we’re REALLY reacting to isn’t the thing that’s in front of us in the moment.


When we’re hurting it’s an easy tendency to want to lash out at someone else.


There can be a lot at play under the surface.


Protecting yourself because of past traumas.


Biting before someone can bite you first!


Reacting from a place of hurt.


Seeking ways to project and vent our anger.


But really, what does it get you?


Does it ever really go well?


Does it ever make you look good in that situation?


I get it.


But it just creates gossip and drama which is no good for anyone.


Especially now, with a year of lockdown.  Awful things happening all over the globe.  People waking up to these unconscious bias’ that we’ve been living under our whole lives, it’s going to bring up emotion.  


There’s going to be multiple opinions.


There’s going to be anger.


There’s going to be triggers.


But we can still be kind to each other even if we don’t agree with each other.


We can be brave and have difficult conversations like adults rather than putting out a derogatory post with negative intentions for the other person in the hope it ‘brings them down a peg or two’ or hurts them.  Or wanting to rally other people around to your cause and validate your experience...that may or may not actually be based in truth!


To be clear, kind doesn’t always mean ‘nice’. 


You can still stand up for injustice.  You can make your opinion clear. But there are SO many ways to do this before the public showdown. 


You can be very clear and firm in your stance and your boundaries and approach something with kindness with the hope of changing someone’s opinion. Or helping them see another side. Giving an opportunity to explain their side.


You might not achieve it but at least it’s a positive intention.


It’s nuanced.


We can reach out to the person who’s upset us privately instead of publicly.


We can be curious about why that thing has upset us so much, is it about the person...or is it about us?!


What’s REALLY going on underneath it?


If you want to lash out, what’s the intention behind that really?


If you want to criticise, put up a bad review, publicly call someone out, tear someone else down.




How would it feel to be on the receiving end?


How would you feel if it happened to your best friend?


Think before you victim shame.


Think before you call someone a liar.


Think before you judge someone for their privilege or what they wear.


Think before you make assumptions.


Think before you let your ego take over.


Think before you write that nasty comment and think about the person on the other end of it.


Pause and BREATHE before you respond. 


It really can be that simple.  This can be harder to do in person, but behind a screen?  We ALL have that pause we can take!


Allow the rational, thinking, conscious part of your brain to come back online so you can make a decision from that place.  Not one that’s reacting to or from ego, or assumptions, hurt or triggers.


Question yourself and your reactions!


You often can’t take it back, and words can do immense damage.


Be responsible for your choices over what you consume. We live in an echo chamber, particularly with social media.


When we’re triggered we need to start to notice it before we act.


We need to notice when we’re allowing ourselves to be dragged into drama.


Learn to respond, not react.


Take responsibility and regulate your emotions first.


Understand your fight or flight response has been activated, taking the prefrontal cortex (the CEO, conscious part of the brain) offline so it’s potentially not the best time to write that email!


Start to question why that thing someone said online hurt us, or angered us so much.  


Did they REALLY mean it how we took it?


Is there potentially another side to this?


Another option or route to go down?


Let’s live a little bit deeper than the surface level.


With multiple, opposing opinions...who’s actually in the right?


Often we want to share our opinion and rally people around that agree with us. As humans we want to feel like we ‘belong’, we’re social creatures.


It was a heavy week.  It was a heavy week being a woman.  We don’t need to take that heaviness and misplace it somewhere else and make ourselves feel worse in the long run.


A HUGE number of people have been triggered this last year, particularly this last week.  Myself included. But we get to take responsibility for that.


Look at ourselves with curiosity and compassion.


Try to find empathy over anger.


Let’s all just pause.  Take a few breaths before we respond.  And see how it changes what you want to do and how that changes the outcomes.


#bekind is still a thing...and it’s free!