The phrase "kill them with kindness" implies that by being kind, you purposely or inadvertently annoy, exact revenge, irritate or encourage a particular behavior in a person. People often use this method of conflict resolution when they feel frustrated by other attempts to resolve an issue, feel powerless in a situation, don't know how to express difficult emotions or they want to avoid pressuring overtly.
The easiest method of "killing with kindness" is to simply smile a lot. Smiling makes you look happy, even if you are seething inwardly, and it makes you look happy to see the other person as well. If you're trying to kill someone with kindness, smile as often as you can around them, at whatever they say, despite what you may feel.
Another highly effective way to kill with kindness is to make overly frequent contact, and be officious and gracious in your contacts. Offer to help in some way, so the person may feel guilt for being annoyed by your too-frequent inquiries into their well-being. Call after a dentist appointment to see how it went. Call on your way home from work and see if you can pick up a gallon of milk for the person. Call often to see how he is doing; this doesn't obligate you to any deliberate help but makes you sound thoughtful. Call, text, e-mail and post on their social networking sites. Avoid messages that sound intrusive, such as asking where they are at all times. Simply be solicitous of their health and happiness.
Point Out the Positive
Instead of having defensive reactions to the person's criticisms or negative comments, refuse to argue. Point out the good in every situation. Point out specific positives you see, such as saying "I know that losing thataccount sounds bad, but it will give me so much more time to focus on my other business. I'm really excited about that." Refuse to be drawn into any negativity about you or about others. Be peppy and good natured. Make it seem as through you're always doing "fabulous" or "fantastic" and expect that they are doing great as well.
Allow Them to Talk
Particularly effective with the arrogant or know-it-all person, allow the person to talk a lot to play on the natural tendency people have to talk about themselves and their opinions. Instead of countering outrageous claims or actually taking part in the conversation, be artificially interested. Use constant cues such as, "Wow, that's amazing!"; "How did you do that?" ; "Really? Tell me about it!" "What did you like the best?"; or "How did you ever get that assignment?" Turn every conversation to themselves and act awestruck by his talents and abilities. This technique gives you the satisfaction of mocking their arrogance without overtly doing anything to cause irritation. In fact, the other person may likely go away thinking you are a wonderful person.
Consider Other Methods
As subversive and justified as "killing with kindness" may feel, it is rarely the best method of relationship maintenance. It may be an acceptable method in a relationship with an irritating a co-worker or an extremely negative casual acquaintance, since you have no long-term investment in those relationships.
But as a long-term conflict resolution strategy, being subversive or perpetually peppy will often have negative results. Clear, kind and direct communication is the ideal strategy. Try finding different ways to approach the negative person, such as e-mail or notes. Instead of only pointing out the positives to counter their negatives, acknowledge the challenges in a situation. Stand up to criticism. Say something like,"I can see how you might see it that way, but I believe this is the best strategy for me." Consider this advice from well-known pastor Jack Hayford, author of the book "The Spirit Formed Life," who said that kindness is working for the good of those taxing our patience.
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