“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.” Proverbs 16:21 (NIV)
Think back for a moment to your formative years. Was there a favorite teacher or mentor?
Chances are this person was more kind and caring than harsh and demanding.
“The only good teachers for you are the friends who love you, who think you are interesting, or very important, or wonderfully funny.”Brenda Ueland
The old adage, “A child may forget what you say or do, but they will never forget how you made them feel,” is most certainly true. I’ve seen this first hand as a teacher of young children.
It should follow, then, that coming off as kind is the best social strategy for the rest of the world too.
So why does there always seem to be more 😡 than 😇?
I found at least one answer in my favorite read of 2020: The Power of Bad, by social psychologist Roy Baumeister. The author presses a point that is recognizable by anyone who has been “flipped the bird” in traffic:
Bad behavior often gets more attention than good.
People say and do negative things because it works. The power of this “negativity bias” (bad is stronger than good) is well known.
However, for long term positive relationships, according to Baumeister, a healthy balance—between good and bad—is needed.
Here are a few of my favorite fresh angles from the book:
- Maximizing the good is important, but we must also minimize the bad. Aim for a 4 to 1 ratio: four times as many good interactions as bad.
- Don’t focus on being perfect in your dealings with others; just be good enough. Consistently plodding along (being good enough) and keeping your promises does more for you than going the extra mile.
- The Negative Golden Rule: It’s what you DON’T do unto others that matters most.
Maybe the title of this post should have been, “# Be (relatively) Kind.” 😀
Seriously, being gracious to others may not always be easy, but it’s God’s way of doing things.
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Ps. 103:10 (NIV)
Perhaps the challenge for today (and every day) is to extend God’s grace to others–whether they deserve it or not.
After all, He has been gracious to us.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” Titus 3:4-5a (NIV)
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