Life and death are found in the words you use

79% of Americans say rude behavior is on the rise. And it has become an epidemic spreading across the country as one rude act inspires another rude act, creating a rudeness spiral.

That’s right … a spiral. It works something like this. Someone at home annoys you during breakfast. You walk into work where one of your colleagues gives you a cheery greeting, but you just grumble and walk on. Your colleague takes your grumpiness personally, gets irritated, taking it out on the next person coming through the door, which sours their mood in turn. And the rudeness spiral takes another spin and infects a wider number of people.

One of my students, 99-year-old Margaret Pederson decided enough was enough and launched the Be Kind movement to counteract the rudeness spiral. And the results have been phenomenal. You really must read her story and see her video, which I share below.

Before I share Margaret’s story and method, however, let me put things in context first. Let me explain where we’re at in terms of kindness at work, in our society, in our culture, media, and relationships and then what you can do to make a positive turn-around difference.

You need to start by realizing …

► 1. Rudeness is becoming the norm BUT it is never acceptable.

You see increasing rudeness in our entertainment.

Years ago, comedy sitcoms were written with cute, clever lines and funny, silly plots to evoke audience laughter. Most of today’s so-called “comedy” shows base most of their dialogue on sarcasm, name-calling, and catchy one-liners that put someone else down. That’s rude and disrespectful.

You see increasing rudeness in our political language. Not too long ago, politicians referred to members of the other party as “my good friends across the aisle … or … our worthy opponents.” Today some politicians refer to members of the other party as “brainwashed, ignorant, dangerous haters and enemies” that must be “rooted out, shut up, cancelled, or eliminated” rather than “consulted.” That’s rude, not to mention dangerous.

You see increasing rudeness in the news. It’s become common for major news outlets to report stories based on “anonymous sources”, stories that blemish or ruin people’s lives or careers, only to have the news outlet say later they “misreported the story.” But the retraction is buried so deep that almost no one ever hears about it, which guarantees the destruction they caused with their false reporting continues to keep on causing destruction. That’s rude and immoral.

You see increasing rudeness in social media. “People feel they have to share their opinions on everything, everywhere, at all times, even if backed by scant knowledge,” says Danny Wallace, author of The Surprising Truth About Why People Are So Rude. And because there is such an overwhelming amount of social media out there, Wallace says people have learned that the only way to be heard is to be especially obnoxious. As he puts it, “Rudeness cuts through.” And the impact can be deadly. Take cyber bullying as one example.

My point is simple. As I tell my live audiences where I am speaking, the students in my virtual classes, and my coaching clients, “Rudeness is becoming the norm BUT it is never acceptable.” Rudeness will not improve your marriage, increase your sales, strengthen your bottom line, engage your workforce, empower your leadership, or even help you sleep better. There is always a better, more positive, productive, and profitable way to approach anyone or any situation than rudeness.

So I implore you, if you have any tendency whatsoever to be rude once in a while, stop it. Cut it out. Find a better way to speak and act.

Because you must realize …

► 2. Everything you do and say impacts everyone around you.

You are never a neutral force at work, at home, or in this world. You are always making a difference of some sort, whether good or bad.

You’re always making your workplace a better or poorer place to work. You’re always making your home a better or poorer place to live. And you’re always making this world a better or poorer place for everyone else to exist.

In essence, you make things worse whenever you’re rude. And you make things better whenever you’re kind. Amanda Bradley’s poem says it very well.


We may not always realize

That everything we do

Affects not only our lives

But touches others too.

For a little bit of thoughtfulness

That shows someone you care,

Creates a ray of sunshine

For both of you to share.

Every time you have a word

Of kindness and gentleness to give,

You help someone find beauty

In this precious life we live.

For happiness brings happiness,

And loving ways bring love,

And giving is the treasure

That contentment is made of.

Bradley says it well. Everything you do affects everyone else. So the only sane way to approach your work, life, and relationships is through the abolishment of rudeness and the practice of kindness.

As I mentioned above, my 99-year-old student Margaret Pederson took that to heart and changed the world as a result. She encourages people to…

► 3. Knit a chain of kindness.

Margaret Pederson came to one of my seminars in her 60’s. She was so enamored with my message on purpose and positive mental programming that she approached me after I finished speaking and asked if I had recorded the message. She wanted a copy of it.

It wasn’t until years later that our paths crossed. She told me she had listened to my program dozens and dozens of times. Later she had it transcribed and memorized the presentation word for word and did her best to live out the lessons it taught her.

At age 92, Margaret called me to ask about my two-day program called the Journey to the Extraordinary. She wanted to enroll because she had more to learn about peak performance and making a difference in the world. She came, sat in the front row, took notes non-stop, and actively participated in every activity. And of course, the entire audience loved her and were inspired by her commitment to kindness as the cure for so much of what was wrong in our society.

Our next scheduled Journey will be announced soon in the meantime take the Journey tour!

At age 97, Margaret called again, saying she wanted to take my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program again, as a refresher. Once more she was the consummate student but also an instant role model for everyone else in the course.

And now, two weeks ago, at age 99, I received an update on Margaret and her founding and leading of the Be Kind movement. She started teaching the children in her community, then the teens, even getting the football team to knit a chain of kindness. Her Be Kind movement caught the attention and cooperation of the entire town, then the county, and is now spreading across the country.

You really should watch the video that was just released about Margaret and her kindness campaign.

Margaret Pederson is living proof that kindness cures. Kindness is the answer to so many of our problems. It costs nothing but its impact is huge, personally and professionally.

In next week’s Tuesday Tip, I’ll outline several specific things you can do to make kindness become a bigger, bolder, brighter part of your life and work.