BEING KIND vs BEING NICE
It is pretty easy being nice. Being kind can be a little bit harder though. After reading Shaunti Feldhan’s book, The Kindness Challenge, I learned that being kind is NOT the same thing as being nice! Being nice simply entails keeping the peace and not rocking the boat. It is a good thing to be polite and treat people well. Matter of fact, it can make for a much more pleasant environment for everybody involved!
But being KIND on the other hand is when you genuinely care about others and show them you care, EVEN IF it is difficult. When you can address issues that need attention, you might not FEEL nice, but you are actually extending kindness to that person.
There is nothing wrong with being nice, but it is important to understand that it is more shallow than being kind! This really got me… because I realized that I am better at being NICE than I am at being KIND.
Shaunti explains that kindness cares about the interest of others and it doesn’t shy away from challenges. Niceness on the other hand, may or may not be motivated by caring about the other person at a deep level. For example, I am not a big fan of confrontation and so I default to being NICE. I can easily avoid conflict because my priority is keeping it upbeat and fun, rather than addressing issues that might cause conflict or tension.
I have been thinking about this a great deal lately and the way I view it is the EXTERNAL versus the INTERNAL. When I am being nice to someone, I tend to be more concerned with external appearances and getting others to like me. Social skills like smiling and being polite and looking people in the eye can make me “look nice”.
But when I am being KIND to someone, it goes much deeper than external appearances. Kindness cannot be taught. It comes from our true character deep within our core. And sometimes being kind requires speaking our truth or having hard conversations and sitting in uncomfortable situations. We might not appear to be nice every time we are being kind.
So I think it boils down to this: While it is nice to be nice, it is more important to be kind. If I want to be more focused on my character on the inside than what I appear to “look like” on the outside, I cannot stay in the shallows anymore.
I hope you’ll join me in the deep end….