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Ten Don'ts for Kindness

Ten Don'ts for Kindness

Ten common things to watch out for when performing acts of kindness.


From Kindness: Changing people's lives for the better.

1. DON'T be obsessed with the people you can't help. Focus on the people you can. You are a mortal. You, like everyone else, are limited. Obsessing about what you can't do prevents you from thinking about things you can do.

2. DON'T let the lack of kindness and giving of others influence you to stop helping and giving. Some people feel resentful, "Other people aren't helping. Why should I?" We learn from role models. Learn from those who are kind, not from those who aren't.

3. DON'T keep trying to help someone who truly doesn't want your help. Some people are very independent. They could gain from accepting your help. But their need to be on their own is stronger than their wish for your help. Be aware that some people really want your help but are embarrassed about it. If you feel that is the situation, try to say things to put the person at ease.

4. DON'T give up too soon. Some people might think that you really won't be able to help them so they initially tell you not to bother. If you don't give up, both you and the other person will see that he will gain much more than he thought.

5. DON'T complain that other people keep asking you to do things for them. If others come to you for help, it's an expression that they believe you are a kind person. You might not be able to meet other people's needs right now, but by being aware of their needs, you might think of a creative solution.

6. DON'T tell anyone, "I had to go without this for a long time. So you also can go without it." Other people have a right to something even if you didn't always have it. If you don't want to help someone, just say a polite, "No."

7. DON'T be hurt if a selfish person complains that you are selfish. Some selfish people try to manipulate giving people by telling them they are selfish. Perhaps you are being selfish. Then again, perhaps not. You might want to ask objective outsiders for their opinion.

8. DON'T be naive. Don't believe every story you hear. If a story seems questionable, check it out. If you have good reason to believe that someone is lying to you, perhaps he is. But be very careful. Someone's sad story might not at first seem true, but it could very well be that it is. A person who loves kindness would rather err on the possibility of helping someone who doesn't need it rather than not helping someone who does.

9. DON'T say things that might cause someone to feel badly when you help him. Some people might say things such as, "This is so difficult for me to do. I don't know why I agreed to do this for you." Or, "This is the last time I'll commit myself to do this for anyone."

10. DON'T embarrass someone when you do something for him. Be careful not to say or do anything in the presence of others that would cause distress to the person you are trying to help.

From Kindness: Changing people's lives for the better.

Click here to listen to Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's podcast for personal growth.


November 19, 2005

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 17

(14) Julia, October 24, 2013 9:41 PM

Please don'r push your "help" down my throat

Rabbi PLiskin wrote a superb article. I agree with most of it, but not with #4 DON"T give up too soon. People have a right to privacy and respect . Sometimes you really DON'T know what their situaton is, and your idea of helping might be causing more trouble. I hate to be negative, but being helpful has a dark side for some people. Why do you want to help? Do you think that if you don't do so now, that you will be caused problems in some way? Do you want to show off something (your skills, your chesed, or whatever?) Does the person have any reason to think that if s/he lets you help him/her now, you'll expect and push for "pay-back" at some time? Whenever someone begs me to let him/her "do/have a mitzvah" I feel they care about themselves, not in my welfare. In short, if you believe someone needs your help, simply ask, "Would you like me to do XYZ?" If the answer is no, say, " If things change, my offer is still good" or " I wish you the best; I hope things get better soon." LET PEOPLE RETAIN THEIR OWN DIGNITY AND PRIVACY!!!

(13) Susan Booker, February 29, 2012 2:59 PM


“Let me know if you need anything.” She said, before the door slammed on her backside. “Yea, sure,” “OK,” “Thanks for coming by.” She would be the last person I’d ask for help, I thought, disappointed because I thought more highly of her affection towards me than what was shown. You know that person, that person who speaks with their lips but not from the heart? They don’t really mean what they say; it’s just a cliché for them to feel better. A crisis does come to your house sooner or later. Whether it is sickness, death, car accidents, depression, divorce, tornados or hurricanes, we’ve all been there a time or two, some of us more than others. What would like to hear from those around you? What should you say to the one in times of trouble? Instead of playing passive role to squeeze you out of helping those around you, as listed above, take a more proactive role. What can I do for you today? It’s almost lunch, what would you like to eat? I’m going to the store, what can I get you? What files can I help with at work? I’m going to get those few dishes washed in the sink for you, OK? I can take care of the lawn for you, until your feeling better. Listen closely to their answers. If they say something like, “I really don’t need any help, but thank you.” Then don’t push issue. But if you hear something like, “Oh, it’s OK, you need to do that.” They are saying they don’t want put you out but really do need your help. Many are the affliction of the righteous but Yahovah will deliver them out of them all. Until deliverance, help your brothers and sisters, be proactive.

(12) Anonymous, February 23, 2012 8:50 AM

Be respectful

Wehn you help people, try not to make them feel like a nebech because they need your help. Tell them that you also once had this problem/needed this help, so they don't feel you;re all the way "UP ther" and they're down below.

Anonymous, December 3, 2012 5:03 PM

Don't toot your horn when giving charity

I once asked my mother in law to help out financilally(I was a single parent at the time living on $17.00 a week) and her only consolation was that she compared her financial strife to mine. She couldnt take her eyes off of someone's elses tragedy, selfishness and stinginess to the nth degree. But who am I to judge, Hashem is the final judge. I say though "Woe to the hard of heart" Our Torah teaches us "You wouldnt like it if someone threw mud on the new suite you're wearing would you? So dont do it to anyone else. In other words, do unto others as you would want them to do to you" Steve Israel. And when you do give charity, don't toot your horn! In this case, I hope we all learn a lesson, not to turn your heart away from those less fortunate.

(11) L.S., October 16, 2011 8:06 PM

make sure you are really doing a kindness

Last year in an "attempt to help" me, some people put me in a situation which compromised my physical health and almost cost me my life. I am not grateful for that "kindness" as the outcome was disastrous. THINK before you DO. Are you doing this so-called kindness for the other person or for your own selfish benefit? Emuna Braverman had an article on this very issue a long time ago. Not every kind intention is indeed a kindness to the person.

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