There is another side to kindness. And that is doing no harm.
Kindness is an active, or masculine, energy according to Native American Spirituality (see my earlier post). It is a ‘moving outward’ motion. Doing no harm is more of an inward feminine energy, because it waits. It is non-action. Holding the tongue with silence when angry words want to burst out. Not scowling and scolding a customer service clerk, especially when it has nothing to do with them – such as company practices or how many staff they have available.
The person who answers our call after we’ve been on hold for a while often has nothing to do with the long hold, in most cases anyways. By offering anger to the person who just answered our call, we are doing harm. It is the opposite of offering a kindness. Maybe this seems extreme but I’m not sure that all of us ‘get this’. So many good, kind people think nothing of barking out their frustration at their point-of-sales or service person.
I look at life as a mirror. When I view another person as myself, or as someone I care about like my partner or adult children, then I can slow down and take a breath. I can remember the big picture. This reminds me to choose a higher vantage point, and look at my life and my actions as my Higher Self views them. When I do this, inevitably I make kinder choices. I feel better by being nicer, every step along the way. I have survived the worst of times and I know how much a smile can help someone who is having a rough day.
While I have never worked in a movie-rental store, I certainly worked with the public for years. One evening, years ago, as I waited in a long Friday-night line with my cassette cases in hand to enjoy a movie night at home, I admit I began to feel a bit impatient. Until I looked to the front of the line, which was at last only one person ahead of me, and I saw terrible rudeness. Why would a customer choose to ream out a kid at the counter for the fact that they were all out of a certain movie?
By the time I got to the front of the line all I cared about was lifting that young person’s spirits. He suffered abuse from a hard-hearted customer intent on lashing out his frustration on anyone who got in the way of what he wanted. In other words: a bully. A grown man in his 40’s or 50’s. Honestly I looked at him less than the cashier forced to endure his verbal assault. Then the person in front of me went through without saying anything, just quickly paying and leaving. At least he did no harm. I took a more active approach. With a centering breath to help replace the recent angry energy with my own kind energy, I offered a big smile as I approached the counter and met his eyes before saying, “Hi! How are you? What a crazy Friday night, eh? Bet YOU’d rather be home watching a movie yourself right now!”
Well that young man broke into the biggest grin you can imagine! Here he was, around late teens or early twenties, polite and hard-working, and built like a football player. But he’d sure endured some unnecessary roughness from a rude customer! As I handed over the empty cases I let him know that if they had any of these movies in, that would be great – but if not, I’d find something to watch. I saw his gratitude and how his spirits lifted. He went through the cart of movies behind him, then spent about a minute going further ‘afield’ to find two of the three movies I was hoping to rent for the weekend. I was delighted. With warm smiles and praises of gratitude for his hard-working service, I went happily on my way, feeling better for knowing I helped cheer someone’s day. I later learned that young man entered into the profile with my phone number (used for renting movies) the words “Nicest customer EVER!”. Not surprisingly, no matter who was working at the video store, my smiles at the counter were always met with big smiles back. It was about a year before I was told what my profile displayed, but I knew right away who had typed it in.
Last weekend my husband and I went for lunch at a nice restaurant. The waitress was new to us, and very bubbly. I always like learning the name of our wait-staff and using it throughout the visit. I asked for her suggestion about a lunch item, and hubby and I placed our orders. As it turned out, I wasn’t thrilled with this new item. When she checked on us I said with a smile that next time perhaps I’ll stick with my usual favorites. She apologized and offered to replace it, but I reassured her with a smile that it was fine (because it really was, just not fantastic). I said with a joyful laugh that such a great restaurant is allowed to have one thing on the menu that doesn’t make me ecstatic. I added that her friendliness and speed were appreciated, and their salad bar was always stellar. As we finished our lunches, and declined dessert or coffee and would just pay and continue our Saturday adventures, she returned with our bill and a lovely complimentary dessert with two forks. She commented that she knew we said we were too full for dessert, and that we didn’t have to eat it of course, but she just wanted to express her gratitude for us being such nice customers. She said with a whisper that not everyone today was being so nice to her, and she wanted to thank us.
Wow! Now of course offering kindness is not about ‘getting’ something in return. As Wayne Dyer teaches, we are not to ask God “What will I get?” but rather “What can I give?”. However one thing I find fascinating is how often we will see proof of the old adage: What goes around, comes around. I do all that I can to help brighten a person’s work day. And sometimes I get to be known as the “nicest customer ever”.