Meet Colorado Karen
Karen. I actually like the name “Karen”, so if this is your name then I’m sure you’re a lovely person. Don’t get mad at me yet, just read on. Recently our family took a summer break and visited Colorado, which should be nicknamed “world’s biggest playground ”. The winter season gifts adventurers with the best snow for skiing and snowboarding. The warmer seasons glow bright with Aspens and dreamy plants for hiking, biking, and white water rafting lovers. Within one hour of landing, we visited the local grocery store in Beavercreek. Everyone’s face was covered up by masks and the silence created an eerie vibe as people wandered through the aisles without sound as if zombies were near. Suddenly, the commotion at the end our checkout lane caught my attention. A random stranger was shouting at my husband and kids. Being slightly out of hearing distance, I quickly moved closer to see what was going on. Josh passively smiled and said, “okay, okay, thanks ma’am”. I almost couldn’t believe my ears. She was yelling at him because his mask was below his nose but still covering almost all of his face. My kids were frozen not knowing what to do. Being an Enneagram 8, protector and challenger by nature, I was faced with a familiar decision. Do I engage with the bully or leave the situation alone? The empowering female voices in my head such as Sheryl Sandburg, Amy Morin, Jen Hatmaker and Glennon Doyle were all telling me to go for it, so I did. I marched freely to the lane where she originated and exchanged in some direct communication with her. I asked, “Are you an employee?”, “What right do you have verbally assaulting my family?”. In conclusion, I proceeded to tell her the dangers of jumping to assumptions when you don’t know a person’s medical history. (Side note: Deviated septum’s and masks don’t work well together, so Josh will pull his down to catch his breath).
Thankfully, our eventful grocery store experience ended with some laughter. As the kids and I waited in the car for Josh to come out with all the groceries, my teenage son started showing me YouTube videos earning the name “Karen”. Joy is the antidote for anything, and we all burst into laughter and wished we would have captured the whole moment on video. We now call her, “Colorado Karen”.
(If you have no idea what I’m referring to, please humor me and look up a few “Karen” videos online. You’re welcome in advance).
The Problem with Mean
Crisis does crazy things to humans. It can make or break people. Some marriages get stronger and other relationships end in divorce. Families adopt dogs and other homes experience an increase in domestic violence. Businesses discover new leaders, and then watch other employees walk out the door. This health pandemic has wreaked its’ havoc and is not bringing the best out in most.
The question remains. How can we combat this terrible increase in “meanness”?
The Power of Kindness
Most all humans are not bad-hearted people. Even the “mean” ones. They have however, allowed frustration with their life and disappointment to override their decision to be kind. The truth is that everyone has it within their power to be kind, but many people allow the unfairness of life to get in the way and affect their decision to show kindness to others. If we are the best version of ourselves when we’re kind, then what can we do to move towards this superpower?
ABC News Correspondent Adrienne Bankert is out with a new book, [“ Your Hidden Superpower”]The Kindness That Makes You Unbeatable at Work and Connects You with Anyone.” She recently did a podcast with [Donald Miller] and she recapped some of the principals and keys to releasing your kindness superpower that lies within.
Kindness Takes a Pause
1) Pause instead of reacting. Create triggers in your head that make you have a knee jerk response to someone who is unkind. Stop and consider that something may have happened to that person. They may have just lost someone they love. (Side note: Even that guy in the parking lot at Orange Theory Fitness who honked the horn at you loudly and had a fit. He might have just received terrible news). This is not a suggestion to be a doormat for emotionally abusive people, but a helpful reminder to steer clear of assumptions and overreacting. We don’t know the backstory of “why” behind the behavior, so being unkind back will not be empowering.
Kindness Doesn’t Gossip
2) People see through fake, so if you want to be known as authentic, then kindness is your highest and best self. It is not kind to gossip. In fact, the people who will gossip with you, will gossip about you. (Side note: I am not perfect at this, but I try REALLY hard to live by this principal. If you have dirt on someone, please keep it to yourself).
Kindness Builds Trust in seconds
3) Walk into a meeting with the intent of connecting and serving. Don’t walk in with your agenda items and expected outcomes. Kindness is consciously aware of how you can give to that person or situation. We feel more fulfilled when we know we’re impacting lives and making a difference for the long haul. Your business or job is a way for you to do this. Try that on for size and see how you feel when you wake up in the morning.
Kindness is a Giver
Send free video smiles. Create a video of you smiling with a quick message to that person who needs it or the family member who messaged you. It’s free and creates connection because you took a minute to show your face and include a thoughtful message.
Drop $10 bucks to a client or friend’s Venmo or Cash app account. We can’t take people or clients out for coffee right now, but we can get creative and buy them a coffee on us.
Ask your employees, “Who do you care about right now? Who is your heart breaking for?” Maybe it’s single parents, firefighters, homeless, etc. Discover what you can do as a company to get involved with the causes that your employees care about. This will keep your team more engaged and active when they know you “care” about their passions.
Join me in channeling the frustration of an unkind world into intentional kindness to everyone we interact with. This is as much of a challenge for me as it is for anyone else. I still want to put rude people in their place, but if kindness is the new superpower, then I’d rather live like an Avenger….Captain Marvel of course