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Effectiveness of "killing people with kindness" vs firmer approaches?

Infinite Metamorphosis

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Sometimes "killing people with kindness" is a highly effective method that gets people to cut the bullshit and turn around. Other times, these efforts are wasted while you basically just get walked on for it, and basically you have to assert yourself, put others in their place and enforce your boundaries, etc.

1) Do you tend to kill people with kindness, or do you tend to use harder/firmer approaches, or do you decide which to use based on the situation?
2) Do you think there are any predictive factors for knowing when killing with kindness will or won't be effective on someone? Especially those you don't know well?
 

Infinite Metamorphosis

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I mean...what's essentially taking place is activating the person's motivators. Killing with kindness activates their own guilt, which is why it's often a much stronger motivator than something that results in the person merely avoiding consequences (fear or simply seeing some consequence as undesirable / not worth it is the motivator in that case). When their own conscience is what tells them to back off, they will do so much more deeply and consistently; it's not going to be an issue behind your back or wherever people can get away with things.

The problem is that not everyone eventually responds to their own guilty conscience after seeing you being nice to them, thinking you don't deserve how they're treating you.
 
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Siúil a Rúin

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Completely ineffective.

Kindness appears as submission to most people subconsciously. It means they can get away with crossing a boundary without negative consequence, and so they do. I spent most of my life being absurdly patient and kind and it caused many problems. Clarity and firmness, but with minimal emotional expression is typically ideal. Not kindness or cruelty, just cool headed "the line is here". Sometimes I have recently gone with negative emotional expression and usually that is helpful for toasting relationships. I do use it when I feel there is no hope or never was.
 

ceecee

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I think killing with kindness mantra stems from the civility fetish that appears to be an epidemic. It's also due to an aversion to conflict and inability to set boundaries, in most people and frankly, creates much more bullshit than you started with. I refuse to give my time to anyone that needs handholding or coddling in this way.
 

prplchknz

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killing them with a knife is way more effective i've never died because some one was agressively polite to me.

on a more serious note, i tend to be very direct and don't like coddling people tbh. i will be overtly nice to someone who is being downright rude and angry because i find that sets them off even more. but that's like in a single conversation. if it's a contiuing problem i'll just be like you're a fucking asshole here are my suggestions for being less of one.
 

Infinite Metamorphosis

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Well, both posts thus far support one side (which tends to be more popular), so I'll add some debate fuel by playing devil's advocate a bit.

1) In some cases, when someone is hardened (angry, hurt, or whatever), a little bit of love / kindness goes much further than anything else. In most cases this will be the most obvious with our children, spouses, or other loved ones; it can also be seen in those who are behaving out of character due to some kind of hardship, tragedy, or trauma. Being met with softness can sort of remedy all of that and soften the hardened (angry, hurt, whatever) individual.

This is not always coming from conflict avoidance; rather, it's at times from emotional maturity and intelligence. In these cases it is used because the person being lashed out at or emotionally upchucked on or whatever is capable of empathy enough to have the level of perceptiveness, insightfulness, and understanding that is necessary to RESPOND with kindness and compassion instead of acting out of REFLEX with anger or discipline. (I all caps'd those words to highlight that there is a distinction between the natural--and perhaps at times even mindless, thoughtless, or rudimentary--reaction VS the chosen, thoughtful, deliberate response which is intended to have deliberate effects on the outcome of the situation.)

2) I have a bit of anecdotal experience with the whole "kill with kindness" dynamic. In these situations I was actually working strongly against my own nature in order to behave in a way I was supposed to (though I did try to be sincere about the kindness/compassion as well). I dealt many times with various individuals I could share parallel stories about, but the strongest example that comes to mind is a customer I once dealt with. In this instance I didn't want to lose my job or face other consequences and thus I was obligated to conform to a legitimately asinine company policy that I myself even hated. This one specific client came in and yelled at me and argued about my conforming to this policy every single time I dealt with her. She would curse me out and all kinds of stuff. I remained composed, respectful, and kind, apologizing to the customer and trying to smooth the situation over with professionalism as much as possible. I was consistent, never let my emotions get the best of me even once with her. Eventually, she returned and apologized very sincerely, facial expressions and body language dribbling with guilt and humility, and never acted that way toward me again, instead treating me with the utmost respect from there on out. Again, this is one of many examples.


What I'm wondering is...since this method ultimately is more effective (you don't need to put someone in line when they put themselves in line), is there some sort of behavior or trait that might be a predictive factor in whether this method will actually work on a specific person? Well...I'm sure there must be, so my question is actually more along the lines of, "what is it?"
 
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Siúil a Rúin

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If social interaction is founded on reciprocity, then introducing a positive reciprocity of 'kindness' implies contributing to a dynamic in which one receives what they put out. "What goes around comes around". I don't know if society used to work that way or if there are places where it does work that way, but the rough life lesson I've learned is that it is all about comparing relative power. Kindness is an expression of preening, attempting to gain approval, submitting. I had no idea this was the perceptions and life would have been a lot easier if the lesson were learned earlier. Social interaction among humans is almost 100% power dynamics.
 

Infinite Metamorphosis

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I actually tend to resort to both methods, personally...but I'm working on refining my wisdom/judgment/discretion in when it is best to use which. I think this will be especially useful in parenting (particularly if fostering/adopting or dealing with troubled children), but also with anyone else.

Devil's advocate: arguing the case for "killing with kindness" from the perspective of being on the receiving end
Personally, I'm a complete sucker for authentic kindness, gentleness, softness. Whenever I'm angry or hardened it calms the raging 'fires' in me and brings out a warmer, gentler side of me. Just a small act of responding to my anger with gentle kindness can flip the entire situation around and transform it from conflict to making up in an instant. At times, the reverse is also true; I am able to use softness to have that same effect on someone else during a conflict. This dynamic is more noticeable when it involves close friends or romantic partners.
 

тень

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Honestly, I take a very apathetic and objective approach to people. I am neither rude nor kind, but engaged when engaged. Civil, but not too welcoming. If someone warms up to me, I warm up to them. I will engage talktative people more, and not approach anti-social people as much. I match my energy, to them over time once I understand their boundaries.
 

Infinite Metamorphosis

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Devil's advocate: arguing the case for "killing with kindness" from the perspective of being on the receiving end
(A situation that exemplifies its benefits when dealing with troubled children)

When I was 12-14 I had some emotional and behavioral problems due to being surrounded by negative situations: abuse from every 'inside' family member, different types of neglect (especially emotional), being bullied and a social pariah at school, unsocialized / extremes in childhood isolation (kept away from extended family members, unable to form any real friendships with peers due to parents' excessive/extreme restrictions/limitations, etc), and so forth. On top of all of that was the onset of what I would later discover was bipolar disorder. My parents were both narcissists (mother covert, father malignant) and my brother was also abusing me secretly...which meant I really wasn't being shown love at all whatsoever, by anyone, as these were the only people I was able to really spend any quality time with. I didn't know how to cope, nor express my emotions properly, so it ended up messy once I was "safer" (away from my father) and everything that had been repressed/suppressed all those years finally erupted. In response...no one really had the insight to realize I was in so much pain as a child. There wasn't anyone who bothered to reach out to me lovingly--instead, it was anger, discipline, character shaming, and so forth. No one was perceptive enough to realize that if they'd just tried to maybe listen, have understanding, and empathize with me, my defenses would've melted right down and I could've been taught better ways to release, process, and cope with emotions (I was not able to express or experience feelings at all whatsoever when I was living with my abusive father, thus I was clueless). Unfortunately, my malignant narcissist father eventually did perceive that need--and that resulted in me gravitating toward him, being manipulated and brainwashed into becoming his narcissistic supply / enabler, and becoming unable to see that what he was showing me was just more abuse under the guise of love, not authentic love. I didn't fully wake up until I was around 28 years old and several facets of my life--finances, career, basic survival, social, psychological, and whatever others I'm not thinking of--suffered massive damages, some of them irreparable and permanently life altering. If any single one of those healthier adults would've shown me kindness, softness, gentleness, etc. when I was a child, my life could've been entirely different. It could've saved me from years of hardship and damages I've had to repair, and damages I can't repair, simply by reaching out to me and being an example of what real love is supposed to be like so that I would've been able to recognize the fake abusive versions and therefore not accepted or been deceived by them.

I personally have the issue of being overly soft in my parenting style. It hurts me to have to discipline when I'm in a parental role (either with a partner's kids, or with my cats, or whatever). I can't fucking stand resorting to discipline with them. I realize this can be harmful as well, however...and I want to be able to better discern when which course of action is more effective.
 
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Infinite Metamorphosis

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If social interaction is founded on reciprocity, then introducing a positive reciprocity of 'kindness' implies contributing to a dynamic in which one receives what they put out. "What goes around comes around". I don't know if society used to work that way or if there are places where it does work that way, but the rough life lesson I've learned is that it is all about comparing relative power. Kindness is an expression of preening, attempting to gain approval, submitting. I had no idea this was the perceptions and life would have been a lot easier if the lesson were learned earlier. Social interaction among humans is almost 100% power dynamics.
Tbh this sounds like an extremely unhealthy perspective. If your relationships with others are all about power dynamics, something is wrong.
 

Infinite Metamorphosis

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C'mon, surely someone else is not so linear and 'pre-programmed' in these operations and is capable of critical thinking and producing engaging thoughts about this...
 

Infinite Metamorphosis

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I think killing with kindness mantra stems from the civility fetish that appears to be an epidemic. It's also due to an aversion to conflict and inability to set boundaries, in most people and frankly, creates much more bullshit than you started with. I refuse to give my time to anyone that needs handholding or coddling in this way.
Contrarily, I'd argue that such a view stems from short-sightedness--and underlying it is the bias of your own impatience, intolerance, and poor understanding. Most likely, you lack empathy or emotional intelligence. Pretty much everyone is programmed by society to think this way these days though. Nobody actually thinks for themselves, considering multiple angles or realistic situations that may present 'exceptions to the norms' or alternate reasons why such 'killing with kindness' behaviors might manifest besides 'bEcuZ puShOvRr.' That is just a deficit of critical thinking or independent/autonomous thinking. It's a mentally lazy response that just assumes all reasons behind occurrences of X are the same, and all can thus be navigated properly using the same method or approach.

Wrong. Real life doesn't actually work that way. Think deeper.
 

ceecee

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Contrarily, I'd argue that such a view stems from short-sightedness--and underlying it is the bias of your own impatience, intolerance, and poor understanding. Most likely, you lack empathy or emotional intelligence. Pretty much everyone is programmed by society to think this way these days though. Nobody actually thinks for themselves, considering multiple angles or realistic situations that may present 'exceptions to the norms' or alternate reasons why such 'killing with kindness' behaviors might manifest besides 'bEcuZ puShOvRr.' That is just a deficit of critical thinking or independent/autonomous thinking. It's a mentally lazy response that just assumes all reasons behind occurrences of X are the same, and all can thus be navigated properly using the same method or approach.

Wrong. Real life doesn't actually work that way. Think deeper.
🤡
 

RadicalDoubt

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I tend to take the in-between path. "Kindness" from me is just about treating a person with respect and being willing to consider their point of view or that they have something to add. I am willing to at least initially be reasonable to anyone I interact with unless they prove they cannot be reasoned with, in which case I typically harden up. Generally speaking, I have often been called too lenient/kind and perhaps a bit overwilling to give people a chance, this is not really out of fear so much as it is a desire to make sure everyone has a voice that can be heard. Being kind doesn't necessarily mean abdicating "power" if you are willing to understand that most people are self preserving and that you also need to be self preserving in your own kindness (ie. maintain your boundaries and don't overstep theirs). Generally this behavior from myself has been met with mixed results, more recently with reasonableness from the other party (probably because they don't know how to deal with me in full and I tend to carry enough "intimidation" I'm told to keep reasonable people working with me). Usually the only real sign that kindness will not work is when your kindness begins to be taken advantage of, to which (so long as you are dealing with a reasonable individual or someone you can cut contact with) erecting a strong boundary, throwing some ice into the mix, or cutting them out all together can resolve the problem. Some people also just don't want that kindness or are not ready for that, so you kind of just have to be willing to assess that and work with them (or again, leave) if that's the case. Of course there have been cases where I've just flat been manipulated for it, but so long as you aren't attached to the situation (at least right off the bat) there is always room to escape or push back (and if you can't push back.... I'm not above using that kindness as a manipulation technique).

Killing with kindness isn't for everyone in the same way "killing with fire" or "freezing with ice" doesn't suit everyone's demeanor. Not everyone expresses warmth or kindness in the same way, not everyone has the inner strength to push back if people start to take advantage of them. Usually, a more neutral option which maybe favors one side of the sliding scale (kind of like mine does) works a bit better that a strong favoring I've found.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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Tbh this sounds like an extremely unhealthy perspective. If your relationships with others are all about power dynamics, something is wrong.
I agree. Mine are not. I have found through many decades of life that most are, and yes, most human interactions are not healthy. To be clear I am not advocating this approach, but am reporting on what I have witnessed across many states through many decades [2 marriages, 1 domestic partner, and various university jobs, plus random interactions]. I minimize social interactions to a point that might not be healthy, but that's my biggest error.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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I actually want to come back to this thread and read through your links. Maybe I shouldn't make discouraging posts. I used to think positively like you and tried to love people no matter what. I loved being a very minimal judgment person but it really got me in a lot of trouble and I was stubborn to learn. I've lost a lot of money, managed to get violated even though I've avoided several close calls, helped friends move, let them stay with me, loaned one a car for two years, listened to their problems over coffee for hundreds, maybe thousands of hours, and have not found much reciprocation in their world. I've been dropped flat several times even when not asking much.

I don't want power over people, so it was confusing to learn this. I don't even like telling my piano students what to do, so often let them choose as many things as possible. I live alone, just teach individual students, have cats that pretty much run the show in my house, and my worse social thing is I have sometimes snarked online, but if you look at context, it usually where ten people are all ganging up on me, so not really a phenomenal power display on my end. I'm very jaded, cynical, and pushed past the last boundary, so yeah, maybe it's better to ignore my posts, but if behavior is ever completely confusing for you, you can keep this in the back of your mind for future reference as needed. Hopefully not needed.
 
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Infinite Metamorphosis

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I agree. Mine are not. I have found through many decades of life that most are, and yes, most human interactions are not healthy. To be clear I am not advocating this approach, but am reporting on what I have witnessed across many states through many decades [2 marriages, 1 domestic partner, and various university jobs, plus random interactions]. I minimize social interactions to a point that might not be healthy, but that's my biggest error.
Fair - I respect that. Thanks for sharing.

Sounds like for some reason you're ending up in the company of the wrong kinds of people. Hopefully you can find some healthier acquaintances and intimate relationships. All that bullshit isn't necessary, life doesn't have to be that way.

I obviously know next to nothing about you and can't really say much about your situation, but in my case when I experienced something similar it was that I needed to establish and enforce healthier boundaries. I didn't know that I was supposed to have certain ones there because I never had them respected by loving people such as parents, etc. Certain other things, such as low self-esteem, were also caused by childhood environment / abuse...which then attracted predators. Stuff like that all came together to create even more negative experiences and therefore further validate negative, unhealthy worldviews I once had. I had to do some work on my inner self to change my experiences with the outer world. Perhaps something like this may help you also? Dunno...just tossing the idea out there in case it may help.
 

тень

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Honestly, everyone should be respected as a human being. No matter how wrong someone thinks an individual is, the moment you dehumanize them proves that you are are no longer human yourself. To dehumanize, is the worst thing you can do to anyone. Because when you dehumanize, you stop seeing someone as rational, and interpret everything under extreme bias. Your empathy turns off, and they become fodder to your own selfish whims. I assume people in power tend to go through this cycle at one point. They become so enriched, and supported by an echo chamber. That they no longer see their adversaries as human, and just mow them down with complete ignorance to their suffering, and disregard their complains and fears as "Conspiracy".
 
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