When others are rude to us, we can still place boundaries on others behavior, just in a loving and kind, professional way. I will sometimes say “Goodness, I can see that you’re really upset, let’s sit down and see if there is something we can do together to make this better.” Such an approach to a rude, upset customer almost always works, because they understand that someone is willing to sit down and at least try to help them resolve the situation. I then start by pointing out that although I can’t promise to resolve their complaint, that I can promise to try to sort out what is going on, and that if I can’t solve the problem, then I will at least help figure out the next step and whom they need to speak with that can best help them. Most upset people are grateful for someone to listen who appears to be honestly trying to help. Dealing with upset persons who are rude or inappropriate can be stressing – but these are exactly the ones who need our kindness  the most.

The upset person may be a good person who has a legitimate complaint that no one seems to be listening to, a person with poor emotional regulation skills, or someone who just doesn’t know how to resolve their problem and is feeling overwhelmed. Each of these people needs kindness shown to them. In fact, each of us needs kindness most when we are at our worst. I certainly would not want to be judged by how I am when I’m at my worst, would you? I try to remember that everyone I see, no matter how upset or angry they may be right now…is probably a much higher functioning person that they appear to be when they first come to my mental health clinic. I try to remember to forgive them when they are at their worst just as I would want others who have seen me at my worst to forgive me. Remember that others need your kindness the most at precisely the moment when they seem the least lovable.

Be kind anyway. The whole idea behind the concept of ‘Kindness At All Times’ is that we are kind even when we don’t feel like being kind. It is easy to be kind when others are kind towards us, but being kind when others are rude or disrespectful takes practice – and sends a powerful message to those we are kind towards about grace and humanity.

Kind people are kind even when they don’t feel like being so – this is what makes them kind people after all. And unkind people desperately need us to be kind anyway.

Ron Hill