A friend of mine posted a quote online that read, “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Two days later, she recounted a grocery shopping incident that left her very displeased. She explained how the woman behind her in line asked to go ahead of her, even though she (my friend) was only purchasing a few items. When I suggested that maybe the woman was in a hurry, she quickly snapped back, “Well maybe I was in a hurry too.” Touché, my friend.
Being considerate is a trait that sounds good in theory, but is often hard to execute. As adults, deciding to be considerate of others is challenging because we’ve met inconsiderate people. We’ve met people who have used us, lied to us, and people who don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. As a result of these interactions, we’ve allowed thoughtless and inconsiderate people to transform us into those same thoughtless and inconsiderate people and into people who use being inconsiderate as a shield of protection from harm.
Too often, we tell ourselves that if we’re considerate, others will take that as a cue to be inconsiderate. We see being kind to one person ending in a worst case scenario. Maybe that woman behind my friend in line would’ve taken advantage of her kindness. Maybe she’d call to her friend in a different line to come jump in front of her, because my friend obviously had nowhere to be. Maybe the manager would’ve come out and escorted her to a special line. A line labeled, “Considerate Customers” and my friend would’ve had to wait for everyone in all the lines to pay for their items before she could go. OR maybe, she’d let this one woman go ahead of her, and then while my friend was paying for her items she’d see the woman run to the bathroom and narrowly avoid a very embarrassing and uncomfortable situation.
As adults, deciding to be considerate of others is challenging because we’ve met inconsiderate people. We’ve met people who have used us, lied to us, and people who don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. As a result of these interactions, we’ve allowed thoughtless and inconsiderate people to transform us … into people who use being inconsiderate as a shield of protection from harm.
The most unfortunate consequence of behaving inconsiderately is that attitude and behavior is passed down to our children. Teaching children to be considerate is a difficult task. It requires them to be thoughtful, empathetic, selfless, and kind. These are traits that are tough for a young child to grasp, which is why children need to see their parents displaying these traits regularly. As parents, it’s our job to find a balance between being selfish and being completely selfless, and that balance is called consideration.
We need to bring back the three most basic parts of being a considerate individual, which are: being mindful of the feelings of others as well as our own, considering how our actions and words will affect those around us, and then deciding to act with kindness and compassion first.
Listen, we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people. We meet inconsiderate people all the time. All we can do is try our best not to become one of those people. If you’d like to practice, here are 7 things you can do today to work on being a little more considerate.
1) Hold the door open.
Now I didn’t say hold the door open for the person behind you. Hold the door open until someone actively takes over for you. Not until someone’s shoulder is in the perfect position, where you can let the door go and it’ll land on it. This might be a horrible social experiment. You may be there all day. You may in that moment realize how inconsiderate people really are.
Or maybe the person behind you will hold the door open for the next person and so on and so forth. And you’ll be able to let out a huge sigh of relief. (Spoiler: This scenario probably won’t happen.) But you’ll be practicing and setting a good example!
2) Let the customer behind you go first if they have less items than you.
If you’re buying a month’s worth of groceries and the person behind you is buying a Kit Kat bar, give ’em a break. (See what I did there?)
3) Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
It doesn’t matter how asinine the point. When you call your mom and she begins crying about how you never call her, it’s easy to explain that you’re busy and love her and try to think of excuses to get off the phone. But for once, think about it from her perspective. You’ll probably be able to come up a good balance. After all, you might be in her position one day and you’re going to want your kids to consider your feelings. Plus, there’s the whole giving you life and loving you unconditionally thing.
4) Let someone in while driving.
I don’t know why this is so infuriating for some (just kidding I totally get it. Bad drivers are annoying). However, if someone’s blinker is on, or the merge lane is quickly coming to an end, just slow down and let the driver get in front of you. I understand that person may have rode that merge lane way further than they should have, but that’s not our concern.
5) Talk to someone who is by themselves.
Maybe that person won’t want to talk to you and that’s ok. But maybe they will. Maybe they’ll be ecstatic to have a friendly person to talk to; a person who made them feel seen and important.
6) Listen to your child’s full explanation before saying no.
Who knows you might even decide to say yes.
Just kidding, kids are mostly horrible negotiators. However, by letting them explain, you’re showing them that you can be considerate of their feelings. And kids who felt considered can grow up to be adults who HOLD THE DOOR OPEN! Sorry I don’t know why that affects me so much.
And lastly, it makes me physically ill that I even need to say this…
7) Say PLEASE and THANK YOU!
I know it looks like I’m yelling and that’s only because I am. If someone holds the door open for you, say thank you. If you need someone to hand you a napkin, say please. So many of us remind our kids to say these, “magic words” all the time. It’s possible that we have to remind them so much because they don’t hear it enough.
Now let’s go out there and put a little more kindness and consideration into the world. On the count of 3 let’s say CONSIDERATION! 1, 2…. Oh too much? Yeah I thought so.