I was so impressed that this week was on Kindness. It is my belief that kindness is one of the most important human characteristics. I mean, how hard it is to say a simple “Thanks” or “Thank you?” Sometimes it can change someone’s outlook for the day or maybe it just feels good to show appreciation without regard to the outcome.
My Mom once told me, “It takes more muscles to frown than to smile.” I was too young at the time to really believe her because you also told me when I made a crazy face that my face would stay that way if I kept doing it.
I have noticed that just being polite to the people around you can really make a difference in the atmosphere making it a lot more positive. I was thinking of the time when a Starbucks customer must have been in a rotten mood and was giving the barista a very hard time with what she wanted. First, it was a Mocha with whipped cream, then no whipped cream, then almond milk instead of skimmed milk, then an extra shot of espresso, then she changed her mind with an extra shot of chocolate, then no extra shot of espresso. Anyway, when the customer got her order straight, I said to the barista, “You certainly have a lot of patience to put up with that last customer’s attitude and I just wanted to let you know, you handled like a true professional.” She smiled and said “Thanks, it’s all part of her job.”
Kindness can also become too much. For example, I’m a caregiver for a handicapped woman. We go into a store to look at some clothes and the clerk, thinking that she is being kind, starts asking ME what it is that the woman in the wheelchair was looking for. I politely say “Why do you ask her?” Their reply is usually, “Oh, I wasn’t sure she could understand.” Or, a blank stare at me and then an overzealous pious question of, “How can I help you?” Now it is my turn to show kindness to the clerk to let them know that just because a person is in a wheelchair doesn’t mean they are deaf.
Another example of kindness that becomes overbearing is when you think you’re helping someone, when in fact you’re hindering them. Since I’m most familiar with working with the handicapped, it is when we do things for them that they want to do for themselves. For example, when seeing a person in a wheelchair and they seem to be struggling with a piece of paper or working to wheel themselves up a ramp, we think that we should be kind and helpful and do it for them. In fact, the proper way is to observe first to see if they are struggling or actually accomplishing the task. You can also ask them if they would like some assistance. You show more kindness when you respect the person for who they are rather than thinking that you’re being kind by helping them with something they prefer to do themselves.