How do I balance kindness and strength?

Dear Ryan,

How do I be kind without coming across as gullible, weak, or as a pushover? 

How do I find the right balance?



I think you are asking the wrong question.

You don’t “balance” kindness and strength. 

They aren’t opposites.

The key is to be both fully “kind” and fully “firm” at the same time. 

  • Be firm in your insistence THAT people follow the rules.
  • Be kind in HOW you insist that people follow the rules.

The trick is to convey:

  • “I respect you AND you have to follow the rules.”
  • “I am sorry that you are facing the consequences of not following the rules AND you have to follow the rules.”

It is all about enforcing the rules consistently but being compassionate in the delivery. 

Another way to think about it:

  • Your words should be requiring that people follow the rules.
  • Your nonverbal communication should be simultaneously conveying respect, kindness, etc.

The key is your nonverbal communication!

Good luck!



Stay in touch

Receive weekly tips from Ryan about how to work with homeless, addicted and mentally ill patrons.