A good friend of mine, Elie, shared with me, few weeks ago, a commencement speech by Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, that was given at Princeton’s Class 2010. In his speech, Bezos explained how it is harder to be kind than clever because “Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice.” And it brought me to think even further, how sometimes we sound rude when saying something, even if we are right….So what is more important? Being right or being kind?
How many clever persons do you know? How many of them are kind? How many kind persons do you know? How many of them are smart? Between a clever person and a kind one, with whom would you like to go for a coffee?
You’re clever and you proved your spouse that you are right during a heated discussion; Ok, so you are right, now what? Wasn’t it possible for you to find a calmer way to prove it? Is it really a situation where you needed to prove yourself right?
You’re clever and you found an error in the project submitted by your employee; you go in front of all his/her colleagues and blame him/her for that…Couldn’t you discuss the issue privately?
I know that there are some crucial situations where you need to be firm and say things as they are…You can’t catch a criminal and ask him/her: “would you please put the handcuffs on because you’ve been acting bad recently! Shame on you!” No, this one, you grab by the neck.
But if your friend has gained lots of weight recently, telling him/her that “Oh Gosh!!! You’re so fat!!!”; What you’re saying is right but I’m not sure this is one of those crucial situations!
So how to know when to be rather kind than right?
-Think about what you are going to say and see if it doesn’t have any effect except hurting people’s feeling…
-Validate with yourself whether the real purpose behind proving right is to satisfy your own Ego…
Clever can help in studying, finishing a job, learning a new skill…Kind will make all the above sweeter and more fun to do.
Here are few tips to share:
-When people do wrong, believe they are doing it out of good intention until proven 100% otherwise; we all do mistakes…
-Treat rude people with kindness, you will be amazed by the results…
-Wrap an awful truth with a kindness, so that it will be easier to swallow it…
-Don’t listen to your Ego! Don’t listen to your Ego! Don’t listen to your Ego!
Jeff Bezos in his speech raised interesting questions: “How will you use these gifts? And will you take pride in your gifts or pride in your choices?…Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?”
Winston Churchill, a British politician, said: “By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.”
And one of my favorite quotes of Maya Angelou, an American poet, said: “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”
I’m not asking you to be kind and stupid….I’m asking you to use your cleverness smartly! 😉