How to Be a Gentle Person

Three Methods:Exercising RestraintBeing ThoughtfulRebuilding Trust

In the heat of the moment, it is easy to accidentally hurt someone. In order to be a gentle person, you must be careful and thoughtful. You must learn to channel your strength and control your impulses. Think before you act, reign in your anger, and always consider the consequences.

Method 1
Exercising Restraint

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    Know your strength and exercise caution. If you aren't careful, you may unwittingly hurt another person without intending to do so. Be especially cautious when interacting with fragile individuals--such as children, sick people, or very old people.
    • Always err on the side of caution. Treat fragile people as though they might actually break. You do not need to be overprotective--just thoughtful.
    • If you are picking up a small child, don't throw her in the air or swing her around. Hold her gently, with both of your arms, and be careful not to drop her. Be playful, but not careless.
    • If you are trying to a get a child or other dependent to come with you, don't pull their arm or push them. Pulling a child's arm can bruise skin, dislocate a shoulder, and earn the mistrust of the child. Sternly but gently tell him or her to come.
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    Do not touch people who don't want to be touched. Physical intimacy is an important part of being human, but you should not violate anyone's personal space. Be respectful.
    • This can include playful touching. Acts like tickling, poking, or holding can seriously bother a person if they aren't in the mood.
    • Respect consent. If someone asks you to stop: stop. If you don't respect peoples' space, then they will distrust you.
    • If you absolutely must touch someone who doesn't want to be touched (say, your child is throwing a tantrum, but you need to change his diaper): be as soothing and careful as possible. Do what you need to do, and then give the person their space.
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    Do not confuse gentleness with weakness. The strongest people are those who can interact with others--touch others, speak with others, love others--in a patient and caring way. Being gentle is being able to hold someone without crushing them.
    • Think of a hug. Try to hug someone close enough that they feel your warmth, but not so close that they cannot breathe. Always be aware of how tightly you are squeezing.
    • Walk softly, but with power behind every step. You do not need to use all of your strength all of the time in order to prove that you possess it. There is strength in self-control.
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    Be patient. If you get into a disagreement with someone--or if you want someone to do something, but they aren't cooperating--be patient. Explain your reasoning and try to work out a compromise.
    • Fighting--verbally or physically--will only inflame the situation. If you want to build a lasting peace, you must work to understand both sides of the argument. Do not be the first to react.
    • Do not try to force anyone to do something against their will. Respect their position. Practice the art of compromise.
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    Don't lash out. When you get angry, count to ten. If you are still angry, keep counting. You may act rashly and violently when you let yourself become swept up in the flood of anger--but you can learn to control these impulses.[1]
    • Give yourself time to cool down. You may find that are overreacting to a situation. There is almost always a solution that does not involve verbal or physical violence.
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    Take deep breaths. If you become angry, try to center yourself and calm yourself down before you do something rash. Breathe in through your nose, deeply, for as long as you can. Breathe out, slowly.[2]
    • Close your eyes and focus on your breaths. Take the time to slow down your heart rate and balance yourself. Let the initial burst of anger fade into the background. Clear your mind.
    • Consider counting your breaths--like meditation. As you inhale, count slowly: 1... 2... 3... 4. As you exhale, count out the same increment of time. This will keep you focused upon the act of breathing.
    • Consider taking up meditation. This is a great way to center your thoughts, practice mindfulness, and control your emotions.[3] Search for tutorials online, and consider attending a guided meditation session.
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    Walk away. If you can't calm yourself down and focus your energy, then you may need to walk away from the situation. Take a few moments alone to reflect upon why you are so upset.
    • Excuse yourself simply and gracefully. Ask whoever is making you angry, "Can we discuss this later?" or "I need to think about this. Can I get back to you on that?"
    • Consider going somewhere that you can be alone. If you have a favorite spot--a shady tree, a beautiful vista, a dark and quiet room--go there. Surround yourself with calm.
    • Consider finding a wise, balanced person to whom you can vent. Find a friend, or call someone, and tell them what's making you so upset. Your friend may be able to calm you down and give you perspective on the situation.
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    Practice "constructive confrontation". Therapist Mark Gorkin, LICSW, author of Practice Safe Stress: Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout & Depression, offers a five-step method for "constructive confrontation":
    • 1) Use an "I" statement, question, or observation: "I'm concerned," "I'm confused," or "I'm frustrated" are good ways to begin your exchange.
    • 2) Describe the problem specifically. Avoid judgmental accusations such as "You never get your work in on time." Instead, be specific: "I've asked you three times this week for the status of the systems report and I haven't received the report or any response. What's going on here?"
    • 3) Explain why you're upset. Talk about effects and expectations. For example: "Because I didn't receive the report on time, I wasn't able to present it at the meeting and we had to postpone making a decision." That's the effect. The expectation: "We really need the data. I want to meet tomorrow morning at 9 to discuss where you are with the project."
    • 4) Acknowledge the other person and ask for input. Let the other person know you have some understanding of what he's going through. For example: "I know you're working on several important projects. Tell me what's on your plate. Then we'll need to set priorities and upgrade the importance of this project."
    • Listen and let go. Once you've engaged in the first four steps, you can be more objective and can let go of any existing anger, hurt feelings, or questionable assumptions.

Method 2
Being Thoughtful

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    Think before you act. If you are quick to anger, you may do something in the heat of the moment that you'll regret later on. Consider the consequences of what you are about to do. Don't react; respond.
    • Try to grab hold of your anger and examine it. Ask yourself what exactly is making you so angry. Ask yourself if you are overreacting.
    • Think through the consequences of your actions. If you react violently in this situation, will you burn any bridges? Will it negatively impact your relationships? Will you run the risk of being arrested, suspended, or otherwise punished for your actions.
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    Make a conscious effort not to hurt anyone. It's easy to be rough with other people if you don't consider how your actions might make them feel. Be careful.
    • If you find yourself hurting people without intending to do so, try to understand what it was that hurt them so. Is this person sensitive to a particular word or label? Did I grab their arm too hard without thinking?
    • Consider treating others as if they are especially fragile, at least at first. Be as considerate as you can be without walking on eggshells.
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    Empathize. Try to understand why someone is acting the way they're acting: try to figure out how they feel and what they are thinking. You may find it much harder to be angry once you understand where someone's coming from.[4]
    • If you can't understand why someone is acting a certain way, just ask them. Tell them what you don't understand, and listen carefully to their response. They may be just as confused about what you are thinking.
    • Empathy is a two-way street. Try to be open about what you are thinking. Work to build a mutual understanding.
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    Accept the things that you cannot change. Practice letting go. You may find that many of the things that stress you out are things over which you have absolutely no control.[5]
    • Consider each source of stress. Can you fix it with force? Can you change it with kindness? Do you understand why it bothers you?
    • Let go of the things that make you angry--whether this is a toxic relationship, an awful job, or a grudge from the past. Commit to yourself that you will focus on the present and not on the past.
    • Practice letting go, for example, when you are interrupted in the middle of speaking. Take a deep breath. Do not let yourself lose your head over something that you will forget about in a week.[6]
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    Take time to de-stress. It's easy to become swept up in the day-to-day demands of work, school, relationships and family. Give yourself time to simply be yourself.
    • Get outside. Find a quiet space. Go for a walk or take a swim. Go to the movies. Get a massage or get your nails done. Do anything that allows you to forget your troubles for a while.
    • Consider leaving your phone behind. You may find it easier to leave the troubles of day-to-day life behind if you are not being constantly bombarded with texts, calls, and emails. Be present.
    • Reducing stress is fantastic for your health. If you're always stressed and often angry, you may be at risk for high blood pressure. Practice de-stressing, and you may live a longer, healthier life.[7]

Method 3
Rebuilding Trust

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    Try hard to be more gentle. Actions speak louder than words. If you want to show the people in your life that you've turned over a new leaf, you will need to prove it by being especially careful.
    • Be patient. It takes time to build trust. Practice being as gentle as you want to be, and continually evaluate your actions. Am I being gentle? Am I being kind?
    • Do not expect anyone to forgive you. If people do forgive you for past violence, do not expect them to forget. You cannot change the past, but you can shape the future.
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    Tell your loved ones. If you are trying to overcome your violent impulses and become a more gentle person, consider sharing this with the people in your life that have been hurt by your anger. Ask them to tell you when you step out of line.
    • In order to do this, you must be prepared to take constructive criticism. It may be a challenge to stay calm when someone asks you to curb your anger--few things are more infuriating than the phrase, "Calm down!" Bear in mind that your loved ones are only trying to help you help yourself.
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    Consider hiring an anger management coach. Search for therapists and psychologists in your area that specialize in helping people deal with their anger. It can't hurt to try just one session.
    • Run a web search for "anger management coach" or "anger management classes". You can take these courses over the Internet. If you want to meet with someone face-to-face, search for "anger management coach" along with your city (e.g. "anger management coach san -francisco").
    • Enter with an open mind. No one can help you change unless you are prepared to help yourself. Work with the people in your life, not against them.
    • Research your anger management coach before you make a final decision. If you can find reviews online, read them. Try to get in touch with someone who has been to see this particular coach.
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    Embrace your emotions. If you are acting in a rash, violent way, you are letting your negative emotions overwhelm you. Embrace your positive emotions and let them guide you through trying times.
    • It's okay to be vulnerable, and it's okay to cry. You can be strong and also keep in touch with your feelings.
    • Don't be afraid to vent. Find someone to talk to about your problems. You may find that an outlet of support makes it much easier to cope with your stress.
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    Stick to it. Be gentle and be self-aware. If you get angry and do something rash, you may undo all of the work that you've done.
    • Continually evaluate whether your actions are gentle or violent. Do not let yourself forget the person that you used to be.
    • Eventually, with time and care, you can change your image: you can become a genuinely gentle person in the eyes of yourself and others. Practice leads to habit. Start today.


  • Never resort to violence unless you are facing a genuine emergency. The consequences of your actions may not be worth the immediate gratification.

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