The Key to Everyday Kindness and How to Find It.

We all would like to think we are kind all of the time. But, we also know that we can actually struggle to act with kindness sometimes. Something happens and our thoughts trip us up and cause us to react in a not so kind way. This is because our thoughts are extremely powerful and can impact greatly on how we show up each day, and interact with those around us. If our thoughts are to blame, then it makes sense that the key to everyday kindness is learning more about our thoughts and reactions.

Understanding Ourselves

The more we notice and understand our feelings, the more we are open to understanding the feelings of others. Yes, we are talking about self-awareness, as we believe a little more self-knowledge is the key to being kinder, nicer people more of the time.  After all, when you are happy in your own skin and are comfortable with your own shortcomings, you tend to be more understanding, more forgiving and more empathetic.

Our Not So Kind Reactions

We all have come across that person who just seems to want to be mean to everyone. They are mean to the person serving them coffee, they are mean to their co-workers, and you can bet they are also mean to themselves. Before we start judging that person, we should remember that we all have the tendency to be this person. If something has gone wrong in our day, it is easy to take out our pain on others. We snap at our kids or swear at the driver who cuts in front of us. As embarrassing as it is to admit, we can definitely be that mean person too. The key to everyday kindness, therefore, lies in breaking out of this mean-cycle whenever we feel it happening.

Self-Awareness is the Key

Self-awareness is defined as having conscious knowledge of one’s character, feelings, motives, and desires. Basically, this means becoming aware that we are actually in control of how we react to any given situation. By knowing more about our character we can identify thought patterns that may be causing us to react in ways that are not always as empathetic or caring as we would like.

Knee-jerk Reactions

If someone is ticking you off, and you can feel your temper rising, stop, and consider what is triggering this reaction. Could it be that the actions of this person are highlighting a flaw in us or perhaps remind us of a time we were scared or felt out of control?

Self-awareness means taking a moment to consider our reactions and see if our first reactions are the right ones. Self-awareness helps us interact more than react. It means knowing your motives and being able to decide if they are reasonable or not. If we are acting on auto-pilot and having knee-jerk reactions to events, then we are not practising self-awareness and are susceptible to biases and stereotyping when interacting with others.  Life becomes very stressful when we are only reacting to events around us, so by being more aware of ourselves, we can learn to interact with kindness to others around us.

Understanding Reactions in Others

Not only does self-awareness help us to understand our reactions, but it also helps us be more forgiving and kind to others too. When we see someone reacting in anger or frustration, we can show more empathy and compassion, as we know that we also have the ability in us to react badly. We know we all have flaws that we are working on.  Self-awareness allows us to embrace these flaws in us and in others and accept that this is part of what makes us human.

The Key and How To Find It

Self-awareness is the key to more kindness for our world. When we learn to interact from a position of self-awareness, we find that kindness and compassion come more naturally. We all have access to this key. It simply requires us being kind and compassionate to ourselves, including all our flaws and mistakes. This is the crucial key from which kindness for others can flow.

Let us fill our hearts with our own compassion – towards ourselves and towards all living beings.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Seven Sanity-Saving Tips For Dealing With Difficult People

Dealing with difficult people is something we all hope to avoid, but unfortunately, we all must face difficult people whether in our workplace, social life or online. These experiences can be confronting, awkward and just wholly unpleasant. Therefore, we decided to put together our best sanity-saving tips for dealing with difficult people. So, instead of getting frustrated and screaming to the ceiling ‘Why is this person being so difficult?’ you can remain sane and handle the situation with class.

  1. Be The Calm One

When faced with someone being completely difficult, being the calm one allows you to maintain some control over the situation. Being angry or frustrated is likely to inflame the situation further. Breathe. Relax your shoulders and let the tension of the situation go before you respond. Be slower to react, allowing your stress levels to decrease first. By remaining calm you are refusing to let the other person trigger you. If your conflict is happening via email or texting, it is crucial to avoid replying when upset. Rise above the conflict and do not allow yourself to react emotionally.

  1. Practise Engaged Listening

People who will not listen to reason or let you have a say can be the most frustrating type of difficult people to deal with. When you are both intent on getting your point of view across, no one is being heard. Be the one who steps back first and actively listen to all they have to say. Practise engaged listening by ensuring that the other person knows you are really listening. Tilt your head slightly and nod as you listen, these actions give a strong non-verbal cue that you are indeed listening to them. Stepping back can quickly deescalate the tension, and you might actually find you can understand why they are being so difficult.

  1. Seek to Understand

Try to see the situation from the difficult person’s point of view. Ask yourself ‘what could they be trying to achieve by being so difficult?’ or ‘what are they trying to avoid?’. With a different perspective on the problem, you may be able to help them move towards their goal without all the drama.

  1. Get Assistance

If the difficult person is someone you are continually having problems with, it can help a lot to talk with others about the situation. Other people can have a completely different perspective on a situation and may offer some good advice on how to handle the situation better. The key is not to use these times to moan and complain to others about the person, but to try to keep the discussion focused on the actions and reactions triggered when you face this person.

  1. Steer Clear of Contempt

Is it possible that your reactions to the difficult person could be interpreted as disrespectful? Any interaction that has a hint of contempt will be doomed to failure. Be careful that you have not used a put-down or acted arrogantly towards them. Stay respectful, and you may find they follow your cue and change their path of difficulty.

  1. Focus on What You Can Fix

Narrow your focus onto the situation at hand and how you can work together to solve it. Take your focus off your emotional reactions to the actions or words of the difficult person, as these can blind us to simple solutions to the problem.

  1. Remove Yourself From The Drama

If you have done all you can to try to work with a difficult person, but you seem to face the same issues with every interaction, simply reduce your contact with this person as much as possible. Often people will use challenging behaviour as a way to control a situation or person when they feel out of control or insecure. Trust your instincts on this one. If you feel there is no way to amend this conflict, remove yourself. Choose your battles wisely. Remember that not every fight needs to be fought and you get to decide when to engage.

Difficult people are always going to be around and finding good strategies to deal with them is essential. Every interaction with a difficult person should be seen as a chance to learn better skills for dealing with them in the future.


Difficult people are the greatest teachers – Pema Chödrön