kindness as strategy

by smb on June 20, 2009

I just finished reading this story about a waitress who successfully handled a difficult customer with strategic kindness (via a tweet by @zappos).

To me, it’s both an encouraging, and discouraging story. I want to believe that kindness is gift that one gives without expecting an outcome; that it is selfless. At the same time, I also know that it can be the most gentle way to externally influence someone’s behavior.

Perhaps it is a means to an end, but the strategic application of kindness might also undermine its value and make gentle acts seem calculating.

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In grade school we are taught to answer the questions that are asked. An authority figure (usually a teacher) poses the question and the students provide the information requested.

I think that it’s a sign of the autonomy of adulthood to resist providing the answer when the point of the question is unclear or misdirected. Asking about the context that a question is asked in can be the most effective way to determine if you are going the right direction.

Sometimes the best answer addresses a different question.

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deadly sins

June 13, 2009

Seven deadly sins: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, science without humanity, knowledge without character, politics without principle, commerce without morality, and worship without sacrifice. Gandhi

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