Spreading Random Acts Of Kindness

Elizabeth Cipolla

Each time we scroll through our newsfeed or turn on the television, we are being bombarded by angry and hate-filled throwdowns via social media or evening news soundbites. Talking to one another in order to truly understand those who think differently than us is rapidly fading into the distance as a forgotten alternative to firing back with overgeneralized retaliatory insults. Our nation seems to be on an angry train headed towards self-destruction, and the momentum is building from all directions along the political and social spectrum. Amidst the chaos, this week’s piece is intended to ignite a disruptive force of positivity into your professional, personal and community networks in hopes of recalibrating our collective societal mindset for the better.

Your busy days are filled with many interpersonal exchanges. Some of the people you encounter are wonderfully refreshing to be around, and others are downright frustrating. Although it’s tempting to respond to someone who has “wronged” you with an equally rude reaction, there is an alternative to consider.

Most of us can recall a childhood memory of a trusted adult teaching us how to play nicely in the sandbox with others. If somebody stole our toy, we were taught to ask them nicely to give it back instead of tackling them and yanking it out of their hands. Sure, it’s important to teach young children to be kind, but is there another hidden message this type of “be nice to others” advice may inadvertently be teaching? Let me explain.

Think of the most recent time somebody really ticked you off. How did you react? Perhaps you decided to take the high road and acted outwardly kind toward them. Why was it you were being kind, really? Was it to prove you were the bigger person? Were you being extra nice in hopes of ultimately getting what you wanted from them? Bottom line, was your kindness coming from an authentic place or was it a tactic you were using to manipulate the situation?

For many of us, underneath our smiling face, kind words and warm gestures, we’re cursing the other person with angry judgments in our mind. We are attempting to play nicely in the proverbial sandbox and using kindness as a means to get what we want. In other words, we get ourselves into the habit of acting kind when it is convenient and quickly cast it aside once we are on to the next thing. It isn’t genuine.

In honor of what’s at the root of all acts of peace, I’m encouraging everyone reading this article to consciously practice the act of truly being kind with a genuine heart; no attachments of wanting anything in exchange. Whether it’s with a colleague, your boss, or the waitress serving your table, demonstrate kindness from a pure place. I can assure you that the kinder you are, the more you will also experience kindness back in return.

Here are some ways you can spread random acts of genuine kindness to those around you.

¯ Pay for the person behind you in a drive-thru, or offer a few extra dollars to somebody in front of you at the grocery store who is embarrassed by coming up a little short on their grocery bill. Your act of generosity may be just what the other person needed to make their day better.

¯ Let someone into traffic in front of you. Even if they don’t look like they are in enough of a hurry to “deserve” a place in line ahead of you, do it anyway. Remember, this is meant to be a genuine act of kindness with no strings attached. If they don’t gesture a “thank you” in your direction, it is OK.

¯ Tell somebody if they’re doing a good job. Take the time to point out a good job to someone you may otherwise take for granted in your daily grind. Whether it’s your bank teller, the store cashier or your child’s teacher, tell them you appreciate the job they’re doing.

¯ Stick up for somebody who is being treated poorly or bullied. This advice doesn’t only apply to schoolchildren; it is something we can all practice when we come across somebody being mistreated by another person. Instead of turning a blind eye, speak up and let them know you are in their corner.

¯ Sincerely compliment a stranger. We all expect occasional compliments from close friends or family. However, when a stranger makes a point to tell us they like our hair or think our eyes are beautiful, we tend to believe it more.

¯ When speaking to somebody, use their name. Instead of referring to a person as “ma’am,” “sir,” or “hey you,” show them you care by taking the time to learn their name. When somebody addresses you by name when you aren’t expecting it, it can be the sweetest sound to hear.

Perhaps the most beautiful part of genuine kindness is the perpetual cycle of ongoing positive energy it creates. Be kind and give the world the best you have.

Elizabeth P. Cipolla SPHR, SHRM-SCP is a leadership communications professional specializing in the areas of leadership training, creative recruitment strategies, employment branding, professional development and executive coaching for over 15 years. Her leadership experience comes from various industries including marketing, mass media, apparel, education, manufacturing, aerospace, nonprofit agencies and insurance. To contact Elizabeth, email her at elizabeth@catapultsuccess.com.