The Kindness Comeback: 5 Simple Strategies to Foster a More Courteous America
As society becomes increasingly interconnected, there is a growing need for kindness and civility. A 2019 Cigna study found that nearly 61% of Americans feel lonely, which can be exacerbated by a lack of compassionate interactions.
Some would argue that the COVID lockdowns of 2020 didn't do much to help solve America's "social disconnection" problem. We are seeing more alarming data that points to the adverse effects of a lack of deep human-to-human connectivity. We are seeing our younger generations impacted at higher levels.
This article explores five practical ways to become a kinder, more empathetic individual and contribute to a more polite America.
#1: Practice Active Listening
Active listening involves fully focusing on, comprehending, and responding to the speaker during a conversation. A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Listening revealed that active listening can lead to improved relationships, increased empathy, and greater understanding. To become a better listener, try to maintain eye contact, ask open-ended questions, and provide verbal and non-verbal feedback.
#2: Express Gratitude
Gratitude not only benefits the person expressing it but also those on the receiving end. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that expressing gratitude can lead to increased happiness, stronger social bonds, and a greater sense of community. Make a conscious effort to thank others for their kindness, generosity, or assistance.
#3: Offer Genuine Compliments
Complimenting others can have a profound impact on both the giver and receiver. A 2012 study from the National Institutes of Health showed that receiving compliments activates the same brain regions as receiving monetary rewards. Aim to offer genuine, specific compliments to uplift those around you and encourage positive behaviors.
#4: Be Mindful of Your Body Language
Non-verbal communication plays a significant role in how others perceive us. According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, positive body language, such as maintaining eye contact, nodding, and leaning forward, can create a sense of connection and rapport. Be conscious of your body language to ensure you're conveying openness and friendliness.
#5: Practice Empathy
Empathy allows us to understand and share the feelings of others. A 2017 study in the Journal of Counseling Psychology found that increased empathy can lead to reduced prejudice, improved communication, and stronger relationships. To develop empathy, try putting yourself in another person's shoes and imagining their perspective.
Creating a kinder, more polite America starts with each individual making a conscious effort to promote empathy, understanding, and compassion in their daily interactions. By incorporating these strategies, you can contribute to a more harmonious society and become a positive force for change.