Want a Kinder Culture? Start with a Kinder You

Oh girl! I’ve been doing something you’ll love – it’s called the kindness challenge, and I learned it from Shaunti Feldhahn. She’s an author friend of mine who’s done a ton of research and has discovered how kindness can improve any relationship. I asked her to join us for coffee to tell us all about it. I just know you’re going to love it like I do.

guest post by Shaunti Feldhahn

Our culture has been taken over by millions of mean girls!

It’s not just girls, of course. Everyone with a heartbeat and an ability to type on Facebook seems to think social media sneers and political pettiness is the way to go.

And it has filtered into our personal relationships. How many of you have winced as someone spoke to their spouse in a tone they would never use with a friend? How many of you have seen friendships strained by political disagreements or trivial offenses?

How many of you have wished there was a way to solve this?

There is. It’s called The 30-Day Kindness Challenge. It will restore or transform any relationship, and our culture.  And it means the solution starts squarely with us.

Want a Kinder Culture? Start with a Kinder You [Click to Tweet]
Because believe it or not: each one of us has been one of the “mean girls,” too.

Kindness Blindness

We all share a blind spot: we are not nearly as kind as we think we are! And each of us has ways we are actively unkind without realizing it.

You may protest: “I would never be cruel!” Okay, but… have you ever complained about your spouse to someone else? Rolled your eyes about something your mother-in-law did? Gotten exasperated with your children, that incredibly slow checkout clerk at the grocery store, or that rude nurse at the ER?

With every roll of our eyes, every quarrel, every sarcastic comment or impatient sigh, we are training ourselves in unkindness!

The 30-Day Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn [Click to Tweet]
We have to train ourselves to be kind instead. After years of study on what we call the 30-Day Kindness Challenge, we found three actions that transform any relationship – and transform us in the process.

We need a boot camp for kindness!

Here’s what you do.  Pick a person with whom you want a better relationship. For 30 days:

  1. Say nothing negative about your person—either to them or about them to someone else. If you must provide negative feedback (for example, to correct a child or employee), be constructive and encouraging without a negative tone.
  1. Every day, find one thing that you can sincerely praise or affirm about your person and tell them, and tell someone else.
  1. Every day, do one small act of kindness or generosity for your person.

It is so simple. And in our research for The Kindness Challenge, 89% of relationships improved!

We all share a blind spot – we are not nearly as kind as we think we are! [Click to Tweet]
What does this look like in practice? Well, suppose you and your husband have been irritated with one another for months. Your feelings are regularly hurt, and every parenting decision has become a battle.

During the 30-Day Kindness Challenge, you resist the urge to ask “Why did you let the kids stay up so late!?” And you completely stop yourself from venting about it with your girlfriends over coffee. (This is just for thirty days, remember!)

Instead, you look for things to praise. So you notice that he came home early to get the girls to dance practice. You thank him for it – and then over coffee you tell your girlfriends about that nice thing he did.

You’re also looking for that little act of generosity to do each day. So you realize: he’s been working long hours and not regularly getting out for lunch: so you pack him lunch tomorrow. Maybe even include a note that says “Thanks for working so hard for our family.” (There’s your words of praise for tomorrow!)

This process shows us a lot about what needs to change. Not just in the other person: but in us. You will see just how negative you have been, in ways you never realized before. (In The Kindness Challenge, I outline the seven distinct types of negativity we found in the research, ranging from exasperation to overt criticism to suspicion. It is life-changing to find out your own negativity patterns, so you can watch for them!)

Kindness efforts won’t solve every problem but it will make them easier to solve. [Click to Tweet]
But here’s the wonderful thing: as you do this, you will also see your feelings changing. You’ll start appreciating the other person more. You’ll see their defenses lowering. And you may see enjoyment and positivity in the relationship you haven’t seen in years.  An effort toward kindness won’t solve every problem but it will make them easier to solve.

I hope you will sign up for the 30-Day Kindness Challenge!  Get a group of friends to do it together. Be a part of this movement of kindness, and watch the immediate difference it makes in your life – and in our culture!

Okay, it’s me, Jennifer, again. What do you think? Isn’t this Kindness Challenge a great idea?!? I’m telling you from experience – it really works. I’d love for you to join me in this challenge, and together we can make the world a better place, one relationship at a time. Thank you so much, Shaunti! 

Shaunti Feldhahn is a social researcher, speaker and best-selling author of books such as For Women Only. She thinks Jennifer Rothschild is one of the least “mean girl” people she knows! She hopes all of Jennifer’s followers will go rock the world with kindness.

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