Are You Brave Enough For Radical Kindness?

Be attentive to and aggressive with kindness and see what happens.

Posted Mar 05, 2013

Social reciprocity theory basically states that we treat others as we are treated. If people are nice to us, we are nice in return. If folks are rude, cruel, or unkind to us, we are tempted to act in the same way in return. Pretty simple and obvious but it is remarkable how we tend to forget and fail to act on such a simple yet very helpful behavioral principle. If we want to live in a better world and be treated with kindness, compassion, respect, and so forth we must act in kind (pun not intended). How can we expect to be treated with kindness, graciousness, compassion, and respect if we fail to behave in this manner ourselves?

What makes this strategy especially radical is that you aim to treat people with kindness even when they treat you poorly, rudely, or disrespectfully. Kindness can be a powerful intervention and can act as a foil to escalating tensions between people and groups. Few things can dissolve tensions between parties as well as a kind word or deed (and perhaps some humor too). It is disarming especially when unexpected. 

Try radical kindness in your life and see what happens. I bet that you’ll find that you will feel better about yourself and others in addition to making the world a bit better to boot! Be aggressive with kindness. Social reciprocity theory would suggest that people will behave kindly to you in return.  And even if they don't, so what?  You'll likely feel better anyway. 

So, what do you think?