January 29, 2020

Tricked Into Kindndess

They might actually be the scientists among us who have done proper social change in a way that is not morally right, but is also the most efficient. And my obsession right now is to try to find a way to use an insane phrase, “Weaponize kindness” and to be able to see ourselves as not teams.

Penn Jillette, on the Tim Ferris Podcast (2:05:30)

What Penn means with this is that the true way to change the society is through kindness, even though it may not be moral to do so. That by using kindness as this “weapon” of change, you can see everyone not as part of different teams, but simply as human.

Is it actually not moral ? What does it mean for something to be moral ? According to Merriam-Webster, morality is “conformity to ideals of right human conduct”. If bettering the society is your goal, then it seems like using kindness to get there is the most moral way to do it, especially since it seems to have such a good track record of deep societal change.

The only way using kindness to make change happen would not be moral would be to make changes that do not benefit the society. I have a hard time seeing how this could happen though, because it would not really be kindness if it was not real. Some may try to trick people by making them believe they are kind. But if their intentions are not, they will always appear. Only real kindness, which by definition is without mean intent to anyone, can bring change.

Spread kindness

Gary Vee also said that he wants to trick people into kindness (Sorry I could not find the reference for you again, although it is probably in this episode of his podcast). He does that by making heavy use of the communication options that are available today, mostly social media.

From their beginning, social media were used as weapons to get people to buy, to follow, to bully others… He shows us that they can also be used as a tool to make people, and in turn the world, kinder.

But to make others kinder, you have to start by actually being kind to others. Sure, you end up “tricking” people into it, explaining how it will improve their own lives. But if that leads to them having a better, healthier, happier life, will they come to you and say “You fucker, you tricked me into being happy ! You’re disgusting !” ?

If someones tricks me into being happy, in a way that is good for me, how can I say that it is not moral ?

We can be kind in all that we do. Our projects, conversations, collaborations, leadership. This does not mean being assertive, or being weak. Firing someone with kindness is an example Gary Vee often talks about. We can agree that firing is not usually associated with kindness, but that’s why I think it has so much power. While I do not have this experience yet, I am convinced that you may have to chose to fire someone to improve the health of your business, and for the sake of your other employees and yourself. When you do it in a way that can end up lifting the other person up, such as helping them find an other job, and help them develop the story behind this event, you make the firing not just a business decision, but a human process. The person feels supported, and will spread this support around. It will be easier on themselves, their families and their friends. While a “standard” firing can break some people, going at it with kindness will lift them, their surroundings and yourself. And above all, that’s the right thing to do.

And if you were in a bad relationship with the person beforehand, kindness is probably not a part of your daily life yet. You are trying to apply kindness as a bandaid on top of the lack of it in your daily life.

This never works. A one time big action will never outdo the sum of little actions repeated over time. If you are not kind more often than not, then applying kindness to your firing will never work. It’s not you. Others don’t see you that way, and they will resist this act since it is not coherent with the relationship you have with them.

Daily kindness

Kindness spurs from compassion, by understanding why others act the way they do, and accepting that they do. It is hard, especially when it feels like a personal attack. There is usually a reason that pushed them to act this way, and while it may have been triggered by an action of yours, the cause is often a deeper suffering inside them, that made them react poorly and lead to this situation.

Understand the desires and fears of this person, and you will see that the attack was not directed at you, but mainly at themselves.

Be conscious of your response, and don’t blurb out the first thing that pops in your head after their action. Take some time to let it brew, even if only a few seconds, and to understand why they attack you.

Try to make their life better.

That’s kindness.

Copyright Marin Gilles 2019-2022