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You don’t have to agree to be kind

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“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

Photo by Erico Marcelino on Unsplash

How often to do you agree with someone else because you feel like it’s the kind thing to do? It’s normal behavior for many to be more concerned with how someone feels, rather than how they feel. Does this describe you?

 

Honest Kindness

Here’s why not agreeing with someone can be kind: because you’re not lying to them.

Being brave enough to be completely honest with someone not only respects your own feelings, but also displays your vulnerability to the other person. Being vulnerable is hard to do, but it creates a much more honest situation. Will everyone be able to handle honesty? No. 

But think about it, would you rather have someone lie to you to avoid an uncomfortable situation, or would you rather have an honest relationship?

This may seem like a recipe for disaster, but there’s a great tool from the world of improvisational comedy (aka Improv) to allow for graceful honesty…

 

Yes, and

In improv, the cardinal rule is that you never shut your scene partner(s) down. You always acknowledge with a “yes”, but then you can further build on the scene with an “and.” That way, the scene is allowed to move forward without awkward moments of defense.

The “yes” validates what one person says, the “and” allows you to say what you want, and it injects a moment of thoughtfulness. 

This is a beautiful tool to use in everyday life. And what is the opposite of “yes, and?” 

Yeah, but…

Sound familiar? In a rush to justify our own thoughts and opinions we often “yeah, but” others. In the “yeah” it seems like we’re going to agree with someone, but then the “but” brings the opinion smackdown. 

 

Practice it

To practice “yes, and”, you and a partner can take turns starting a dialogue by stating something you love. Then your partner can yes, and what you said, and vise versa.

For example, you could start with “I love cats.” Your partner, who prefers dog could say “Yes, and dogs make great pets too.”

It might sound like a simple, corny tool, but it can be a game changer for building on your inter-personal skills, while providing a way to be gracefully honest with people. 

We don’t have to agree with someone to be kind to them, but we can be graceful in how we go about it.

 

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