Updated: Oct 14
This article is the first in a four part series titled, How to Be a Kind Human, focused on sharing tips of navigating personal and professional relationships from the perspective of a life coach.
Relationships can be complicated. They can cause us stress, anxiety, nervousness but they can also bring us joy, peace and encouragement. No matter what age you are, chances are that you've experienced both sides of the emotional spectrum when it comes to relationships. Whether a familial, personal or professional relationship, there is no shortage of incidents where we all could have handled conflict better or been kinder to others. When expectations are not met or broken, it's easy to let frustration and resentment simmer and even bubble over. It's even more tempting in those situations to gossip, talk badly about the other party or reciprocate bad behavior with like kind.
On the other hand, if you're on the receiving end of poor treatment, it can be challenging to know what to do and how to navigate. You may feel like an idiot for trusting someone's word. You may feel shamed into silence, afraid to share your experience and worse, berate yourself for your perceived shortcomings. The latter is not healthy either. The key in any conflict is to take a physical or metaphorical "step back" and time to access the situation and to process what you are feeling with either a trusted mentor, counselor, coach or your relationship with the Lord. Reactions are just that, reactionary. So where's the happy medium? While there will always be situations in life that push our buttons, challenge our morals and integrity, there is one piece of wisdom as a life coach I'd like to share.
The middle ground for all parties is the word: understanding. When we can set aside our emotions in the moment and mentally remove ourselves from the mental space of how we've been wronged, it gives us the opportunity to see things from a different perspective and think clearer. This perspective allows us to put ourselves in the other parties "shoes" so to speak to ponder why they may have acted the way they did towards you. Regardless if reconciliation is achieved, observing situations from a neutral place in mind and heart allows you to free yourself from negative emotions such as anger, self-doubt and choose positive emotions such as joy in the situation. Choosing joy is a Biblical concept and to fellow believers, we're instructed to do that.
It may not seem like a "big deal" to not respond, to ignore someone, but it is. When it comes to being a kind human, we need to take in to consideration how our actions or lack thereof impact others. - Nicole Zaagman, Life Coach & Entrepreneur
It can be hard to choose joy in the midst of hurt or betrayal. Which brings up another topic, forgiveness. Forgiveness is also a very Biblical concept. However, forgiveness and trust are two entirely different things. One can forgive without having trust restored in a relationship. One can wish another well and even pray for their well-being and blessing without continuing a relationship in the same way. The concept of "fly above the storm" is another great practice. No matter how someone treats you, choose to stay above the drama. Don't get embroiled with controversy or act foolishly. Choose what you share and who you share it with and find something you admire about someone even if they are not your favorite person.
Miscommunications in relationships are frequent and sometimes unavoidable. However, there are things we can all do to ensure we've done all we can to rectify situations where we can and experience peace in our hearts when our efforts are not reciprocated. My tip for how to be a kind human in this article is: don’t ghost, be mature and communicate. Ghosting is the phenomenon when you are communicating regularly with someone personally or professionally for an extended period of time and without warning communication from one party completely stops, without explanation. Ghosting can happen for a number of reasons whether it's due to avoidance of conflict, fear or otherwise. Sometimes, it can be due to un-communicated offense, something an individual may be going through or chronic illness.
Regardless of the reason, ghosting is hurtful not only to the person being ghosted but to the person doing the ghosting. The person being ghosted can potentially suffer from emotional and psychological distress and be left wondering what they did or how they offended the other party. Often those being ghosted will play situations and conversations over in their heads to try and understand what went wrong that can lead to self-defeating behavior and cycles of stress and anxious thoughts or worse, spiral someone into feelings of worthlessness if they are not equipped or have the tools or support to cope effectively.
It may not seem like a "big deal" to not respond, to ignore someone, but it is. When it comes to being a kind human, we need to take in to consideration how our actions or lack thereof impact others. Yes, they'll eventually "get the hint" or "get over it" but do you really want to be that person? As a life coach, I don't recommend it. Those doing the ghosting do not get off the hook. Sweeping things under the rug is not an effective tactic to dealing with relational situations. Ghosting behavior personally or professionally can damage the reputation of those doing the ghosting and erode trust in the former relationship and future relationships. There are no winners in the immature cycle of ghosting.
If you've been ghosted by a family member, significant other or work colleague the best advice I can give you is to feel the hurt and focus on other positive relationships in your life as hard as it might be to do. Focus on things that bring you joy and take some time for yourself. Use it as a time to deepen your trust in the Lord. If you're the one doing the ghosting, I implore you to stop this cycle of behavior and to do better in the future. Apologies go both ways and can go a long way in restoring trust. Keep in mind that sincere apologies must be followed through with actions, not mere good intentions. Honesty is also a kind gesture even if it takes courage to share. In closing, it's worth the effort to put in the work to communicate well with others.
Nicole Zaagman lives in Byron Center, Michigan with her high-school sweetheart and her four legged family members. Nicole is an accomplished, Christian entrepreneur and children's author, passionate about helping women succeed in life and business through coaching. She travels the state of Michigan visiting senior centers and special events with her pygmy goats through the Jump for JOY Program™ and operates Parkside Farm in Byron Center, Michigan. Nicole is an advocate and ally for agriculture and farm education and started the Farmilies Connect™ initiative to help connect farms and families in Michigan.