Last week I had the privilege of meeting Shaunti Feldhahn, a Harvard-trained Wall Street analyst who is devoting her research skills to developing best-selling books on success in the workplace, marriage, parenting and youth work.
Her latest book is entitled The Kindness Challenge. It synthesizes years of extensive research with hundreds of people and sets forth a simple and yet powerful way to improve almost any relationship.
The process involves selecting one person with whom you’d like to improve your relationship and committing to three simple actions for thirty days.
First, “nix the negatives.” Refrain from saying anything negative or critical to the person or about the person, even when you’re having coffee with your closest friend and confidant.
This may sound easy, but for many of us it’s not. To change our subtle habits of critical speech, we need to identify and stop seven kinds of negativity we often don’t even know we have (see chapter six of Shaunti’s book).
Second, “practice praise.” Find at least one positive quality to praise the person for every day … and share that praise with at least one other person.
Again, this sounds easy. But to be successful you’ll need to overcome “ten tricky traps” to authentic praise (see chapter seven).
Third, “carry out kindness.” Do at least one kind act toward the person every day. If you have difficulty imagining what you might do, Shaunti provides eight practical ways to be kind … one of which you could surely do at least once a day.
Very simple steps. But as Shaunti’s research with hundreds of people proves, these three actions can radically improve your relationships … whether with a distant spouse, an aggravating teenager, or a coworker you’d prefer to avoid.
I’ve already begun to apply this process with someone in my life, and I invite you to join me in The Kindness Challenge.
– Ken Sande
- Some people say it is hypocritical to be kind to someone you actually dislike. Do you agree or disagree? Consider what C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity: “Don’t waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”
- How do these Bible passages validate the three simple steps in The Kindness Challenge:
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36)
“’If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:20-21)
“Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23)
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32)
“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor” (Prov. 21:21).
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© 2017 Ken Sande
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