Kill Them With Kindness
I know I’m not the only one whose mentor, parent, or grandparent gave them the advice to “kill them with kindness” when faced with a difficult person. This advice may have been followed with the common, trite tagline, “It really does work!” to which my teenage self thought, “Yeah? Right!” How could responding to someone who is overwhelmingly negative, possibly help a situation?
As an adult, I’ve tried to put this into practice many times and have had lots of success. However, I will tell you one way it does not work – if the kindness is genuinely false! In fact, I’ve had situations escalate when others can see right thought my fake kindness. I think fake kindness is actually called sarcasm. How interesting that two well-known sayings “Fake it ‘til you make it” and “Kill them with kindness” cannot be combined for synergy. Now that is a bummer!
I know some of you have read the book Crucial conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High. I read this book during a leadership development course. At first, I thought it was going to be like all of the other books that claim to have the magic secret to happiness and success. I am usually disappointed after I finish these kinds of books because it always seems like, in the end, there is no big secret after all. However, Crucial Conversations did have something different. As I’ve reflected on the guidance from the book, I’ve realized that many of the concepts are deeply rooted in kindness.
If you think about having a crucial conversation, it would be very difficult to have a purposeful one if there was hostility, vastly different opinions, dishonesty, and the inability to hear or understand others' points of view. To set the stage for the conversation to be remotely successful, we must approach it with basic kindness. The book sums up the elements of crucial conversations, each of them requiring authenticity and kindness:
- Start with heart
- Seek mental purpose
- Learn to look
- Explore others' paths
- And make it safe
Even without digging deep into these themes, you can see the relative importance of a kind approach to these conversations. With these moments of growth in kindness in mind, I had the honor of choosing our opening speaker for Congress, Linda Cohen, AKA, the kindness catalyst. Oh, by the way, did you register for Congress yet? It’s not too late to hop on a plane to Pittsburgh in a few weeks or grab a virtual registration. There will be live, synchronous streaming this year – if you attend in-person there’s no waiting for recordings!
Through learning about how to have a crucial conversation (and practicing them), I realized that approaching nearly everything with kindness can kill my own anger, increases my personal happiness, increases other people’s happiness, and decreases stress. I simply cannot wait for you to meet and interact with Linda. She’s going to give us all so many reasons to spread kindness and joy. I’m certain we will change the world after Pittsburgh!
Amber S. Kujath, PhD, RN, ONC