Kind Versus Nice

Kind and nice. A lot of people use the words interchangeably. I think there’s a pretty big difference between the two.

To me, kindness is active. It means choosing to do something like help an elderly person struggling with groceries or put an extra quarter in the parking meter or bring a healthy snack into work for your team.

Niceness is more passive. We’ve all heard the stories about the person who is “just so nice” but then gossips around the water cooler. Someone may be “nice” to our face, but very different when we’re not around.

Kindness is a choice. Niceness is, especially for women, a societal expectation. A woman is expected to be nice. She is supposed to smile and never utter an impolite word. She’s definitely not supposed to use her voice or stand up for herself, both of which are some of the biggest acts of self-kindness out there!

Kindness is an attitude; it’s a mindset. When you leave the house in the morning, you can choose to be kind by paying people a genuine compliment. You can choose to be kind by defending a colleague who isn’t being given a chance to speak in a meeting. You can choose to be kind by standing up for a cause in which you believe.

Kindness goes deeper than niceness. Niceness sits on the surface; whereas kindness requires some depth. To be kind to ourselves includes accepting our perceived imperfections, not trying to gloss over them or pretend they don’t exist.

Kindness is honest. It means being vulnerable with others when things aren’t feeling right instead of shutting down, checking out or pretending everything is OK.

Kindness takes some work, and it often looks a lot different than people think. It’s not passive or fake or weak – in fact, it’s the exact opposite – it’s active and real and strong.

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