Be kind to people. Seems like obvious advice, I know. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Regrettably, people can be jerks. Sometimes they are down right assholes. And when you’re the victim of someone being a prick, it can be extremely challenging to just let it go.
But I encourage you to try. Because even though their acting out, you have no idea the reason why. You have no idea what’s going on in their life. You have no idea what may have happened in their past.
I learned this lesson when I was still working at Procter & Gamble. It was the annual gathering of the International Team working on the Gillette brand. I was 22 or 23, still just a youngin’.
A couple of days into the meet up, we did an icebreaker that got deeper than anyone expected. Everyone was gathered together in one giant circle. There was anywhere from 40-50 of us. And the task was easy. Each of us was asked to share one of the lowest lows, and highest highs from our life. That’s it. Seemed easy enough.
It wasn’t. It wasn’t easy at all. The stories I heard that morning changed me forever. Many of them were deeply personal. The common themes were:
- Extreme poverty, so poor you can’t buy milk for your children.
- Living with a life threatening or terminal illness.
- Living in a state of constant fear of being physically abused or raped.
- Being completely disowned by your family, literally no contact for 20+ years.
- Unbelievable violence, an entire family murdered for a few $1000 worth of stuff .
- Unexpected loss of a friend, family member, or child.
I’m not sure if it was a blessing or a curse to be one of the last ones to share. What I do know is that I realized just how lucky I was. My lowest lows didn’t even compare. Even today, my lowest lows still don’t even compare.
That’s why I’m more patient with people than I ever used to be. Sure, sometimes people repeatedly cross the line, and in those cases I’ll say something. But most of the time, I try to just let it go until a pattern emerges. And even then, I try to understand where the person is coming from, before I write them off.
So the next time someone’s an asshole to you, try to be kind. You never know what they could be dealing with.
- Be kind to people.