Being nice does not make you kind

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The word “kind” is the sole focus of the text, signifying it is the main idea of the story. Photo by Yoali Rodriguez.

Yoali Rodriguez, Guest Columnist

Ever wondered about the haunting feeling that someone leaves after having a conversation where hollow compliments and judgemental eyes became part of the narrative? Leaving you to wonder, “was that person nice, or were they too nice for that matter?” 

Becoming the victim of silent judgment is more common than it may seem. Whether it comes from a family member or even from those you call friends. I think we all need to learn that being a nice person does not automatically make you kind.  

Spotting the characteristics of someone who is nice and kind is necessary to create personal boundaries and figure out whether an individual may have foul intentions towards others or yourself.  

Finding the line between what makes someone nice or kind lies not only in the words, but in the intention behind a person’s behavior. A study titled “Being Nice vs. Being Kind” by Kelly Shi explains how coming down to ethical matters can be seen as interchangeable, what makes the difference and the motivation behind it.  

In my opinion, doing a simple action such as paying for a stranger’s Starbucks order without expecting anything back can translate to kindness. Being nice can also be simplified as a hollow compliment from someone that expects it back and becomes slightly offended after you just say, “thank you.”  

Having the motivation of acting upon benevolence or not speaks volumes about a person’s character. According to dictionary.com, other words for “nice” are agreeable or delightful, while for the word “kind,” synonyms include being gentle and compassionate. Which raises the question: where can we draw the line between each? 

Drawing out the people that are nice and kind becomes easy once we relate it to a selfish perspective. Rooting on whether a person cares about how society deems their “nice” actions vs. someone that acts based on instinct without needing societal credit, is an example of how to spot the difference.  

A blog post written by Kevin Ellerton titled  “Nice vs. Kind – What is the Difference Between Niceness & Kindness?” describes how nice behavior is rooted in fear found in individuals that eventually act to obtain something in return from a person of power. In a way, being nice is superficial and often used as a slight manipulation tactic to make others mirror your behavior instantly. This is why charm went a long way for some famous serial killers, such as Ted Bundy. 

Kindness goes much deeper than the surface. The act of being kind comes from a place of empathy and simplicity. In his blog, Ellerton mentioned how kindness comes in a three-step process: empathy, compassion, and eventually kindness.  

Someone that is kind does not limit themselves to empty words or actions towards others but is also a person who is loving towards their own and their nature. Being comfortable enough to act on good morals and spreading them without selling it to others defines kindness. 

Finding the difference between nice and kind does not only rely on behavioral aspects, but also on the motivation behind each action. I think it is crucial to understand the characteristics of each so we can understand behavioral patterns that may be dishonest from others, or even ourselves.  

Something to ask yourself is, do you want to be perceived as “just nice” or are you willing to learn the value of being kind? 

Yoali Rodriguez is a guest contributor and may be reached at [email protected]