A couple of weeks ago, I called the customer service department of a well-known online retailer because I ordered a gift for someone…and I mistakenly had it mailed to the wrong address.
As I sheepishly explained my situation to the customer service rep (again, this situation was 100% my mistake), the customer service rep said something that both shocked and saddened me:
“Mr. Richards, I really appreciate you for being so patient and for not yelling at me. I’ll be happy to ship another package to the correct address, and I credited your account an extra $10 for being so kind about this situation.”
Wait…what? Let me get this straight.
I was the bonehead who typed in the incorrect address, yet I was given an extra $10 solely for “not yelling” at the customer service rep for a mistake that I made??? And as an added bonus, she happily fixed my problem for me too! All in all, this entire situation probably took less than 15 minutes.
Most people would be very happy about this outcome. So, what is there to be “shocked and saddened” about?
A lot, actually.
It’s Time for a New Normal
After thanking the customer service rep profusely for her kindness, I couldn’t help but to feel a little sad about the situation as I got off the phone with her.
Here was this very sweet woman, who likely spends her typical workday getting verbally eviscerated by rude and entitled customers. And when she finally was able to talk to someone who simply treated her like a human being, she felt the need to offer a monetary reward for it.
In other words, she basically paid me for being kind.
That’s crazy to me.
Last week, I met one of my readers in person. We chatted for 15 minutes before she also said something that shocked me:
“Wow, you’re really the same nice guy in person as you are on your blog. I sincerely applaud you for your integrity–it’s rare and refreshing.”
Please don’t get me wrong–I’m not one of those people who can’t take a compliment. I sincerely appreciate it when people tell me that I’m kind and that I have integrity. What makes me a little sad is that these traits are actually worth celebrating.
Is the bar set so low that being an insufferable jerk is the new normal? Is having a firm grip on our emotions and acting like a decent human being so rare that it should be rewarded? Is being “who you say you are” something that should shock most people?
If so, then we all have some work to do.
And as always, it starts with kindness.
The Courage to be Kind
We live in world where quite a few people view kindness as weakness.
Whether it’s the ramblings of a loud-mouthed politician, the misguided “leadership” philosophy of a bully boss, or the well-meaning advice of friends and family, there is no shortage of people who would like you to believe that this kindness stuff is for suckers and wimps.
They’re all dead wrong.
Kindness is a force that connects people. Kindness shines a light for people when they are struggling with dealing with dark times. Kindness fills our lives with depth, meaning and love. Most of all, I believe that kindness is the most powerful force available to us to positively change the world.
What you might not be aware of is that kindness requires courage.
It takes courage to be kind when your coworkers and boss are telling you to leave your compassion in the parking lot before you enter the office.
It takes courage to be kind when you’ve opened your heart to someone, and that person stomped on it and left it in tiny pieces.
It takes courage to be kind to people who are not kind to you.
All of this is true–but if we’re serious about leaving the world a little better than we found it, then we’re going to have to dig deep to do what the average Joe and Jill don’t have the guts to do:
Be kind anyway.
We Can All Be A Little Kinder
I’m going to assume that if you like to hang out on a blog called “The Positivity Solution” that you probably already buy into the idea that kindness is a good thing, so I’ll spare you the hard sell.
What I will say is that everyone reading these words (and the guy writing them) can still be kinder to others. No one alive has reached his/her kindness maximum.
So that’s my challenge for us. Can we be a little kinder, just today?
It doesn’t matter if it’s to your coworkers, your annoying neighbor, your significant other, the guy who just cut you off on the freeway, your kids, the friend who is always there for you, your parents, or the customer service rep who just hooked you up. You can leave your stamp on them by giving them a little more kindness today than you normally do.
The ways to do this are infinite, so I’ll leave the details to you. But can I leave you with one last suggestion?
There’s no time to lose. The world needs more kindness now, and you can start giving it freely to others (and yes, to yourself too) the minute that you’re done reading this.
This is how we’ll actively change the world.
Do you think that the lack of kindness is the new normal? How have you seen kindness positively impact your life or the lives of others? How do you deal with the people who believe that kindness is a form of weakness? Jump into the comment section below and make your voice heard!