“Nice” versus “kind” – what’s the difference?
- pleasant, agreeable, satisfactory
- in a pleasing way
- wanton, dissolute
- coy, reticent
- having or showing a friendly, generous or considerate nature
- a group united by common traits or interests
- fundamental nature or quality; ESSENCE
I don’t remember when I first heard or realized the distinction, but there is one. Nice suggests sweetness and being amiable – but does this come at the expense of personal preference or relinquishing one’s point-of-view? Or self-care, truth and personal integrity? Being kind suggests being direct and honest, sharing one’s essence – one’s core, irrefutable, unabashed being – in a gentle, knowing, and considerate way, not hindered by fear, but supported by one’s truth.
If I’m being nice, I might agree to do something I don’t have time for or don’t really want to do. But I’m afraid to say “no” for fear of disappointing someone, including myself (a/k/a people-pleasing); I don’t want to feel guilty; I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or be misunderstood and therefore don’t say what I really think or feel (a/k/a fear judgment or rejection); or don’t want to feel or be seen as incompetent, a failure for not being able to “do it all” (a/k/a not good enough). I may have been or felt taken advantage of, being the “yes-person,” biting off more than I can chew, and committing to something I truly do not have time, energy, or desire to do. This leads to resentment and unfinished tasks or half-hearted efforts, feeding in to the “not good enough” and “guilty” stories being recyled and reinforced. I can hear Dr. P’s words ringing: How’s that working for you?
If I’m being kind, I am being honest about what I think and feel, even if it’s not what the other person wants to hear (or what I think they want to hear or “can handle” – who am I to judge?). My intention is not to hurt feelings, but to be real and authentic about what I believe and what something means to me. I risk being vulnerable, even judged, for the sake of saying or doing what I mean – in a direct, easy, neutral way that suggests I care and allows me to own what I really want, what I really think, how I really feel.
Why would I do this? Isn’t it easier to simply say “yes” and be cooperative and, well, nice? The benefits to being direct, honest, gentle and considerate are many. I’m not bottling up or pushing down what’s coming up for me – it will come up (via explosion) or fester and manifest (via discomfort or dis-ease) and rear its ugly head at some point. Plus, I have an opportunity to share real feedback, wisdom and truth with someone. And, I get to model courageous wisdom and truth-sharing for others, when such sharing can be hard to do.
We know by now that while we have similarities (we are all human! among many things), we are each unique and, in so many ways, different – we may have different reactions and thus have different things to say (cue picture below). So, even if it would be easier to say nothing (which is always an option) or sugar-coat what we think with a half-truth – how important is it to fully own what we think or admit how something impacts us? How can we stay true to our differences, where we’re coming from, how something hits us, how we really feel…? By being honest, direct, considerate and, well, kind.
As I go through my day, which would I rather be: nice? or kind?
Which is more authentic? Honest? Fair to oneself? True?
…………………with a firm, gentle delivery; sharing experience, wisdom and truth.
(Definitions provided by Yahoo! and Merrium-Webster’s Dictionary.)