Great column last week on teaching children to be kind, but how do you teach this sort of thing to adults? I have family members who love to rave about the "idiots" in the world. They don't see how much they judge others, and they do a lot of joking at others' expense. It's very upsetting to me. What can I do to encourage them to be kinder?
There are some things you can do to encourage kinder behavior from adults, but you have to be careful how you do it. You don’t want to judge them for judging others, or you’re just as bad as they are.
First, you must make sure you are seeing these people and the situation accurately. If you check yourself for accuracy first, your response will always be based in truth.
Second, you can encourage compassion and kindness in others using the "Sneaky Method" — the only way to encourage change in other people. (I’ll explain what that is below.)
Here are four ways to make sure you are seeing this situation clearly:
Look for an opportunity to thank this person for being such a kind and compassionate person. Tell them how much you appreciate that you never hear them say an unkind word about anyone, and how much you admire that.
You should only have to say this once or twice and this person will not gossip in your presence again. (They may stop gossiping completely.) This works because people want to live up to your highest opinion of them.
People are more motivated to change themselves when you see good in them than they are when you point out their flaws or mistakes.
When you project positive onto a person, you shove them in that direction. This approach almost always works.
Encouragement and love are the best way to help people change.
Hope that helps.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes Clarity: seeing yourself, others and situations accurately.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.