“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Really?! Words can shatter souls. A little girl was telling me how much she loved school and said it was so much better than kindergarten.

I asked what was so bad about kindergarten and she said the kids teased her and called her “little.” To an adult, it seems like tame teasing, but it contaminated her kindergarten experience because, in the world of a 5-year-old, being called “little” meant you were like a baby and not grown up enough to be in kindergarten.

Hurting someone with words is so easy these days. If you don't feel comfortable doing it in person, you can let it rip on Twitter, Facebook or a phone call from someone you don't know. Sometimes, you don't have to use your name, avoiding all responsibility for the impact. How many of us have gone off on a telemarketer who calls during dinnertime? We will never see those people.

What are strategies for dealing with teasing, insults, taunts and threats? First, consider the source – is this person someone whose opinion you respect? If not, there's no reason to respect their opinion about your appearance, race, politics, religion, job, etc. You can visualize a large plexiglass bubble that completely encloses you and protects you from the barbs. You can think loudly to yourself “I am likeable, smart and funny, and you'd be lucky to be my friend!”

More importantly, what are strategies to stop yourself from being the person who is hurting someone else with words? The most important strategy is what we are taught as children. “Treat someone else the way you would want to be treated” and “Put yourself in someone else's shoes.” Think about those telemarketers. Who would want that job – cold calling people who are just trying to eat dinner? Clearly, the people desperate for a job to be able to put dinner on their family's table are the ones who have to take those jobs. This thought process leads to a feeling of compassion and maybe admiration – doing a hard job when it might be easier to use government assistance.

We have people in our community who, in doing their hard jobs, are dealing with insults, hostility and rude behavior. It could be the waitress who forgot to give you a straw or a healthcare worker who had to give you some bad news. It is probably someone who is having a bad day or dealing with something you can't even imagine. Just because they carry it well, doesn't mean it isn't heavy. It could be someone who might need you and your kindness.

Kindness is the simplest way to tell another struggling soul there is love to be found in this world.