The Value of Being Kind

About a month ago, my wife and I traveled to the Cayman Islands for a week vacation to get away from the horrible winter we had been having here on the east coast. Everything about the trip was great except for one thing: on the flight down, my wife’s checked bag was damaged.

It wasn’t completely destroyed, but the frame was clearly bent. We were debating putting a claim in at the island or just waiting until we got back. We decided to put the claim in there – or at least start the process – so that the airline couldn’t come back and say we didn’t report it right away and therefore we would be out of luck.

Unfortunately, the help down there was non-existent. It’s funny but I really think everyone works on island time down there. That or I am just accustomed to hustling for everything here in the US. In any case, he eventually filled out a form for us to take along (it was completely illegible) for when we got back.

Fast forward to us standing at the baggage center at the airport here in the US and the helper telling us she can’t read the form and that she doesn’t even think the form is the right one. At that moment, we could have reacted in one of two ways:

  • Get mad and start yelling and causing a scene
  • Stay calm and try to work through things

As much as we wanted to yell – our flight was delayed, we are tired, and it was snowing outside – we decided to stay calm and work through things. The woman was kind with us as well, and told us that since the frame was bent it couldn’t be fixed. Therefore, they will be sending us a brand new piece of luggage. We had no complaints.

What is the point of this story? It’s that when you want something or need help from someone, you need to stay calm. When we get emotional, things tend to not work out for us in the end. This goes for everything in life – from relationships to money. We fail at investing because we get scared and sell, or buy into the hype, get greedy and buy when we shouldn’t. Or we simply get emotional about how that pair of jeans looks on us and we buy them even though we don’t need them.

Being Kind Leads To Good Things

A few years ago, I worked as a customer service associate at an electronics retailer. I dealt with angry customers trying to return things all of the time. I found that when the customer was nice to me, I was more willing to go the extra mile to help them out. But when they were rude and mean to me, I did what I had to do in order to get them out of the store and away from me.

I’ve taken this lesson with me now when I shop. Remember, it’s not the worker’s fault something broke or isn’t working, so don’t take your anger out on them. Use them as your ally to help you get what you want.

When I was shopping recently, I walked up to the associate and made small talk with them. Then I asked if there were any discounts on the shirt I wanted to buy. She said it wasn’t on sale, but went behind the register and ending up finding a coupon to apply to get me 15% off. Had I walked up to her, yelling about how everything else is on sale but this shirt, I doubt she would have taken the time to look for a coupon.

Final Thoughts

The old saying, “kill them with kindness” is very true. The more kind and approachable you are, the more willing others will be to help you out. What have you got to lose? Why not try being kind for a few weeks and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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