Have you ever forced yourself to smile and be nice to a difficult person? Let’s face it, some people know how to press your buttons, and you may feel like giving them a proper tongue lashing. However, there are ways you can diffuse your irritation in an awkward situation and speak kindly.
Fifteen Ways to Speak Kindly
Being a compassionate person can be a tough job. However, avoiding confrontations makes it better for everyone. Here are fifteen ways you can speak kindly in difficult situations.
1. Offer a Sincere Compliment
This may be an all too familiar scenario for you. While you enjoy holidays and special occasions at the office, you may dread bumping into that certain coworker. You know, as soon as you get a glass of punch, they’ll appear out of nowhere and change the mood in the room.
It’s a little easier to be kind to some who’s irritating you when you’re in a crowd than when it’s only the two of you. One way to lower your steam is to find something good about that person and say so. When you pay a compliment that’s genuine, it often throws the office party pooper off guard, and you can walk away with your dignity.
Remember the old song that tells you to smile through your heartbreaks, and you’ll get by? Being in the crosshairs of a difficult conversation may not be heartbreaking, but it can wrack your nerves. However, the iconic tune has a good point to help you speak kindly.
An article published in Forbes by Dr. Bryan Robinson states scientific evidence linking smiling and your mood. Even when you must fake a grin, Robinson says that it may trick your brain into producing endorphins and a pleasant disposition. You’re also less prone to give a regretful response if you show those pearly whites as you talk.
However, be careful of smiling when the other person gets heated. They may perceive it as mocking, and they may get angrier. Reserve your smile for when the conversation is civil.
3. Don’t Buy Into Their Negativity
Your attitude can affect your atmosphere, be it positive or negative. According to the law of attraction, you attract whatever you put out into the Universe. If you decide to smile, be positive, and speak kindly, and you’ll attract more of the same.
You needn’t be smothered by comments from negativity. Refuse to be influenced by a negative attitude and try to take the high road. Although it may not change the person’s disposition, you can reap the benefits of positivity.
4. Is an Apology Due?
It’s human nature to make mistakes or inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings. If the situation hasn’t been rectified as soon as possible, it makes for contentious moments. Perhaps the other person isn’t so gracious because you’ve offended them.
When you’ve hurt someone even unknowingly, be quick to apologize sincerely. Realize that genuine apology includes amends and the determination not to repeat the offense. After that, forgiveness is up to them.
Maybe the other person offended you and has yet to apologize. You may have stewed over their trespass until it’s festered into bitterness. Most people may not be able to speak kindly when they’re angry with another person.
5. Speak Kindly When You Offer Forgiveness
While apology and forgiveness are closely linked in human relationships, they have their differences. When you hurt or offend another, you owe them an apology. It’s like having a utility bill that says what’s due.
However, you can’t owe somebody forgiveness. If you decide to forgive a person’s offense, it’s a gift from your heart. Plus, forgiveness sets your mind and spirit free from bitterness so you can go on with your life.
Just because you offer forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re letting the offender off the hook. It also doesn’t erase the hurt from your memory. Forgiveness clears the way to get past the offense, and you both can speak kindly when you meet.
6. Consider The Other Person’s Life
You’ll never be at a loss for grumpy people in your personal and professional life. Whether it’s a staff meeting or a dreaded family reunion, a problematic personality will be present. If it’s inevitable that you must interact with them even for a bit, considering their past may help you speak kindly to them.
Most children don’t make a personal goal to mature into a miserable, hateful adults. Negative personalities are often products of past environments, circumstances, and mental health issues. According to an article written by the Association for Psychological Science, some people may naturally focus on negativity.
While it doesn’t excuse rude behaviors, it might explain why your surly coworker or cantankerous uncle is so tricky. You may not realize the trauma someone’s endured or other situations that have turned their lives bleak. By not taking it personally and learning to speak kindly, you don’t add to their frustrations.
Let’s say you were just hired at a company, and you introduce yourself to a new coworker. Ideally, they would smile, shake your hand, and welcome you aboard. But what if they didn’t smile and were short with you?
It would be understandable for you to feel a bit stunned, rejected, and mad at this person. You could assume that they immediately didn’t like you, and you’re not going to like them. However, this unfortunate first impression may not be an accurate portrait of your colleague.
At least give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they had been verbally shredded by a client on the phone right before you introduced yourself. Or your new coworker might be crushed with stress from a pressing deadline.
Before you decide this person is a bad apple, see what happens next. The chances are that they will stop you later and apologize for being short. By showing consideration and being kind, you may discover that they’re a friendly person after all.
8. It’s Easier to Speak Kindly if you Pause First
When the conversation with a problematic person goes south, it’s easy to let your mouth be quicker than your brain. You may end up saying something you’ll live to regret, so practice mindful pausing before you speak. Listen to the other person and take a moment to think about how to answer.
9. Try to Stay Calm
Talking to someone who gets on your nerves may immediately send your temper into orbit. One way to keep a civil tongue is to stay calm and manage your emotions. If need be, count to ten silently, and don’t allow their emotion to dictate yours.
10. Have a Practice Session
You’re going to your high school reunion, and you know your long-time rival will be attending. Even though it’s been years since you were in school, those old emotions of anger and jealousy find their way to the surface. You’ll need to smile and be civil if you don’t want the evening ruined.
This is one of many examples where preparation can make all the difference. Decide what you’ll say in different scenarios. Practice smiling and being genuinely cordial while you work on leaving past differences behind you.
11. Have a Little Help from Your Friend
Sometimes, you may anticipate a strained situation with another person. You already know you can’t cope with them and don’t want things to escalate. Plan with a trusted friend to create a polite escape route.
When cornered by this boring individual, your friend can call your cell phone or pop into the conversation. You have your chance to get away, and the toxic person will find somebody else to annoy. It’s a clever way to keep the peace.
12. Sharing Points of View
Deep down, many obnoxious people feel helpless and lonely and want someone to listen to them. Maybe the seemingly grouchy lady next door would like to be your friend but doesn’t have good communication skills. By actively listening to what they have to say, you may determine their underlying motives.
It’s also essential for you to clearly state your viewpoints, so there are no misunderstandings. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding that came between you in the first place. If they can’t be respectful, then you may have to keep your distance.
13. Use Positive Body Language
Your body speaks just as much as your mouth does. If your words and body language aren’t congruent, people may view your conversation as insincere. It’s imperative when you’re conversing with a problematic person.
Stand or sit in a neutral and relaxed position and avoid crossing your arms. When your body language is calm and open, it makes for a more peaceful atmosphere. You can talk to each other in respectable tones.
14. Set Boundaries
Just because you’ve determined to talk kindly to someone doesn’t mean you’ll be a doormat. Let the difficult person know that you’re willing to have a civil conversation without yelling or verbal abuse. If they can’t respect that, then you’ve nothing more to say.
15. Know When to Walk Away
It’s a sad fact of life that they are some people who will never change their negative or hostile attitudes. If you’ve tried your best to be kind and it doesn’t work, then walk away. You needn’t be part of their darkened view of the world.
It’s a given that personalities will clash, and people can have infuriating encounters. Being kind may give them a change of heart or de-escalate the situation. If not, you’ve done all you can do and can avoid them as much as possible.