It’s amazing how one small act of kindness can help a person reframe their situation. I was recently in an airport waiting in line at the bag check station. There was a man standing behind me who was quite obviously upset. He muttered a few swear words, and grumbled about how slow the line was moving. I mentioned that I was not in a hurry, and he could take my place in line if he was running late. He asked me what flight I was on, and it turned out that we were on the same flight. He chuckled for a second or two and declined my offer, but we chatted for the next few minutes. His mood seemed to completely change after presented with a simple act of kindness.

I didn’t really do much of anything, but in making a connection with him, he was able to reframe his situation. It reminds me of this quote by Dr. Brene Brown: “the truth is, rarely can a response make something better; what makes something better is connection.” It also reminded me of how important of a role that the people surrounding a conflicted person actually have in creating a culture for conflict management. The majority of explosive violence is born from feelings of intense isolation.

Human beings are a social species, and when we feel alone under stressful circumstances, we may lash out from the most primitive parts of our brain. When those people surrounding us can show compassion, we can often reframe our view of the circumstances using the more logical parts of our brain. Sometimes one small act is all it takes.

John Windsor – Mandt Faculty