The unexpected events of the past week inspired me to write. In the span of seven days, I received the same message repeatedly via my social media channels: “Why do you thank every new follower individually?” My repeated answer: “Why not?”
Please don’t interpret my response as flippant. Rather, hang-on to your judgments and allow me to explain. Why not thank someone for extending us a virtual “hand” of friendship?
Just because we now establish new relationships via the portal of social networking doesn’t mean that we should forget common courtesy.
Why do we discount overtures to connect via the Internet as not worthy to receive our basic social graces? Have we become so jaded by the once-intoxicating lure of the Web to revolutionize how we form relationships that we now turn an apathetic eye away from genuine gestures of friendship?
Of course there are some you shaking your head as you read these words. If you are among these naysayers, then I say to you, “I understand you fuming over the countless random friendship requests and spam-a-lot types who flood your Inbox, bombard you with DMs and take-over your Timelines.”
Your Challenge: Should You Choose To Accept It
However, here is the challenge I propose to you: Treat everyone you encounter in all of your interactions (real or virtual) the same for one day and see what unfolds. Do you think I am asking the “impossible?” Well kind readers, believe me when I say nothing exists without possibility.
Oh, by the way, I undertook the very challenge I am posing to all of you and the results blew me away. For a single day, I treated everyone around me in my “real” and “virtual” world the same. In less than 24 hours I witnessed the magnitude of practicing being socially kind in all settings.
Regardless of “who” followed me, sent me a friend request, or wanted to LinkIn with me, I responded in kind with: “Thank you.” Sure there were a handful of obvious spam-types and to those I did not extend a follow-back, but I still responded, “thank you.”
Within a few hours, I received numerous new connection requests from non-spammers/genuine contacts. I continued to say thanks for each request I received. The “kindness effect” continued to multiply.
Spammers kept sending requests, but the ratio of spam to genuine drastically dropped by nearly 50% in a single day. For every four new requests from “real” followers I received, only one spam-type emerged.
That same day I said “thank you” to everyone I met whether it was at a coffee shop, the grocery store or the bank. At first the recipients of my gratitude appeared slightly confused, (one even looked over his shoulder to see “who” I was directing thanks towards) but upon seeing my warm smile as I repeated the words “thank you” each one of the new persons I met returned the grin. Most of them even replied, “You’re welcome. Thank you.”
The results of my small experiment were staggering. I decided to expand the scope of being socially kind and to express thanks for any share, mention, retweet, favorite, like, etc that I received via social media. Once again, the outcome from recognizing each person’s efforts made a bigger impact than I ever would have guessed.
Genuine Connections Come When You Least Expect
What surprised me the most, was that through the process of me being consistently kind regardless of the social setting (virtual or real) “spammers” transformed into more genuine contacts. Several of them were so touched by my thanks that they began to promote my posts, share my tweets and comment with authentic sincerity without me ever asking.
One commonly labeled “spammer” has now become a close friend that now chooses to share only positive content and has shifted his whole purpose for utilizing social media. It has become his venue for sharing kindness and for helping others to smile more via his inspiring shares and tweets.
He sent me an email yesterday thanking me for showing him another way to be. He said no one had ever thanked him before. He normally was ignored or even received angry messages degrading his “obviously fake business.”
My simple message of thanks even though I did not follow-him back piqued his curiosity. He wondered who was this “blonde American kindness expert” and why would she thank me.
What if I would have judged his “follow” as being unworthy of my thanks? I would have missed a golden opportunity to practice being kind and would never have met my amazing new friend.
It has often been said that when a student is ready and willing to learn, the right teacher shall appear. I am grateful I was ready and willing to demonstrate what I write and teach: Being kind is a choice to treat everyone the same and to meet each person where he or she is at in the present moment.
All of us are worthy of receiving kindness in our virtual and real lives. Getting back to the challenge I posed at the beginning of this piece… Why not give it a shot? How about choose our “Day of Giving Thanks” as the first day of you being consistently socially kind online and offline? It just might get you infinite opportunities to witness the “kindness effect” in action.
How about sharing this challenge with your loved ones while feasting over Thanksgiving Dinner? What a great way to kick-off the Holiday Festivities!
Let’s continue the conversation. Please feel free to share your thoughts. All expressions of “kindfulness” are welcome here.
Please keep in touch and report back the results from accepting the challenge mentioned. I can’t wait to hear how the “kindness effect” impacts your life.
This post originally was published via LinkedIn