Motivating people to practice intentional acts of kindness

Kok's Law

‘Kok’s Law’ came into being as a means of survival in intimidating circumstances. No doubt, others have stumbled on its genius, too, but I am the first to state it as a law.

Remember all the times you sat in class as a college student tongue-tied with fear of volunteering the answer you had in mind? Then you melted in hot self-hate as you heard another speak exactly what you had thought, and she received high praise? Recall the many hunches, intuitions, ideas you’ve had, but left unspoken or ignored because you lacked the confidence to speak about them or do something with them? Then you read or heard them stated by someone else who received admiration?  ‘Kok’s Law’ will help.

‘Kok’s Law’ was born one Saturday morning as I sat in a committee meeting planning a conference program. The chairman was a forceful, confident appearing person who had a load of ideas. He was on his way toward setting up the program all by himself, as the rest of us passively agreed. Then it hit me! I was aware in my heart and in my head that I was experiencing considerable distress and unease. As I listened to my ‘guts’, I heard howls of anger and objections. I realized that I didn’t like much of what the chairman was authoritatively hammering into place, but there I was nodding assent.

Then came the second revelation: If I’m feeling this way, I’ll bet at least a couple of these other ‘yes-men’ are, too. Assuming this was true, I thought I should speak up, because I’d be sure to get support. So I spoke. Immediately the others joined in! The dominating chairman listened. Then the program was planned in a fresh way. Everything was changed for the better.

‘Kok’s Law’ was born: If I am thinking something, or feeling something, at least half the others in a group or meeting are likely to be having the same thoughts or feelings!

Of course some people don’t need help to take a risk and speak up. Others of us do. We should remember the high probability that support will be present. That may be all some of us need to gain the courage to trust our hunches, ideas, opinions, feelings and step up to the podium, or take action. Kok’s Law, used discreetly, can give us the nudge many of us need.

Here is another example. Have you ever been in a room with other people when you felt very warm? What do you usually do? You look around and ask, “Is it warm in here?” Kok's Law says: If you’re warm, at least half the others are warm, too – unless you’re getting the flu or catching a cold.

Kok’s Law has become my faithful companion. It has helped me score in numerous situations where my natural self-consciousness used to limit me and hold me back. The thesis underlying Kok’s Law is that I’m a somewhat normative human being with sensitivities and responses similar to those found in at least half of the population.

I give you Kok’s Law to use carefully. I guarantee it will work at least half the time.


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At my age ’Getting lucky’ means walking into a room and remembering what I came in there for.

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Dr. James Kok

Dr. James Kok is the founder of the Care and Kindness Campaign