Which is more important: being KIND or being NICE?

Being kind is often correlated with being nice, but is that true? What is the difference between the two?

Being nice is when you are polite to people and treat people well. Being kind is when you care about people and show you care. Sometimes you can be kind to someone even though you aren’t nice to them and you can certainly be nice to someone but also be unkind.

click to see full article: Owen Fitzpatrick

Being nice is often interchanged with being kind, yet there are some basic differences.

Being nice: is usually connected with how we have been socialized to behave, and not showing our real emotions is tied deeply to needing to “be nice” at all times. Being nice isn’t always about being our authentic selves, as it is about “not rocking the boat”.

Being kind: is more of a character trait of a caring, empathic person who finds an authentic way to help someone. This one is harder to do because it takes thoughtfulness and some time to put it into action.

Kindness and niceness are in conflict sometimes. Telling a flailing employee they’re flailing with the aim of helping them improve isn’t very nice. But it is kind. Calling out bias in a meeting isn’t nice, it’s awkward. It is also kind. Being chipper can even be actively unkind if your positivity is directed toward someone who is suffering and obliges the other party to hide their true feelings in the name of niceness (this is called toxic positivity). 

Which may be why positive psychology site Project Happiness comes down definitively in favor of kindness over niceness. “While niceness maintains a facade that our lives are together and assumes that same status quo for others, kindness gives permission for real success and failure. Kindness defaults to an understanding that life can be hard, but that emotional support helps,” the site argues

click to see full article: Jessica Stillman

Being too “nice” can affect our mental and physical health adversely, because the stress created by stuffing our authentic feelings and selves down in order to appear pleasant and pleasing takes a toll.

Symptoms of being too nice include but are not limited to:

  • Frustration and anger
  • Resentment
  • Eating/drinking/shopping all your feelings away
  • Crying into your pillow
  • Crying in the bathroom

Being overly accommodating is often a symptom of low self-confidence. When you don’t value yourself, you’ll turn to others for their validation.

But this is a vicious cycle – When you look for validation from others, you reinforce the idea that your own wants, needs, and desires aren’t important. You step out of your authentic self. And it’s easy to get confused about who you are.

You trade others liking you for you liking you. You find yourself chasing after the approval of others. You’re terrified of the idea that someone won’t like you or they’ll have negative thoughts about you.

Because all of your value is dependent on their thoughts and feelings. If someone doesn’t like you, it just reinforces all those negative beliefs you have about yourself.

click to see full article: Erica Hanlon Coaching

Our low self-esteem affects so many areas of our lives, doesn’t it? I was very surprised to learn this, and when I worked very hard on teaching myself to like myself, I was surprised by how many other things just shifted in my life.

How to stop being so nice

Here are some things to consider as you think about transitioning from always “making nice” to becoming kinder:

  • Stop looking for your worth outside of yourself. There is no job, relationship, or cute outfit that will make you believe you’re enough. Confidence comes from your thoughts. End of story.
  • Be aware of the thoughts leading to your people-pleasing. Do you believe taking care of yourself is selfish? Why? How is that not true? How is people-pleasing actually manipulating and hurting those around you?
  • Imagine yourself saying standing up for yourself. Let’s start with those imaginary conversations you have in the car, the shower, or in the mirror after the fact (you know you do it). How do you feel when you act those out? Now go do it.
  • Remember – You’re not responsible for others’ feelings. People’s feelings come from their thoughts, not your actions. Your actions are neutral. They will make of it what they will.
  • Take a risk. Start small. Tell the DirectTV guy at Costco “no thank you.” Walk down the Las Vegas strip and say “No thank you” to everyone who tries to give you a stripper flyer. Or be like me and stand up for yourself when a cashier is rude to you.

What are your thoughts about this? Did any bells ring inside your head when you read any of the points above?

Are you waiting for the cogs of the Universe to change so your life can change?

What would happen if you gave yourself a chance to build yourself up? Check out some of the articles below to learn how you can do this.

Know this: I believe in your ability to make the changes you want to make in your life!

…and lastly… being kind could actually save someone’s life! Think about when strangers intercede to help someone out who is in danger. A person who is set on being nice and not creating a scene most likely would sit passively while a terrible scene unfolded in front of them, while a kind person is more concerned about doing the right thing, regardless of whether or not people give them the side-eye for speaking up!

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29 thoughts on “Which is more important: being KIND or being NICE?

  1. This is very interesting, Tamara. I’ve never thought to delineate between niceness and kindness, but now that I’ve read this I can see that there is a difference. I’d much rather be kind than nice, and you’re right…being nice is something we’re socialized (especially women) to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! We’ve also become so accustomed to being told to “be nice” that we don’t see that many times it is used to control us, to set up guard-rails around our behavior! I too prefer kindness!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post Tamara. You described the differences very well. I used to be a people pleaser and felt that was the only way I could get attention. Now as I’m older, I realize that I can still do nice or kind things for people but I don’t have to do it to be liked. I believe that my self-esteem over the years has grown because I know who I am now and don’t need validation.


    1. Thanks Devang! I write about what speaks to me! Some posts get a lot more views than others, but I cannot guess prior to writing what people will be in the mood to read, so I just follow my gut!


    1. I agree with you, I was that way too when I was younger. I think little girls get socialized into thinking being nice is more important. We grow up thinking it would be a terrible thing not to be nice, yet it is emotionally stunting to constantly put on a fake smiling face and speak fake words, all in the name of being nice. I too prefer kindness. It allows me to be authentic.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Michele! I appreciate your feedback! It’s interesting to separate the two and to look at what compels us and inspires us when we do!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tamara, thanks for yet another insightful and thought-provoking post. I’ve learned over the years that it takes not only self-confidence but also courage to be my authentic self when relating with others. Not everyone is open and willing to consider or accept our authentic vision.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is so true! I like how you’re connecting being kind with having the self-confidence and courage to be our authentic selves! This is a very interesting and important point! 👏 🤩🤩

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this, Tamara. Thought-provoking. A Venn diagram might help people understand the overlap among various character traits you’ve touched on, including insecurity, confidence, self-assertion, kindness, timidity, and being nice, as well as the role of anxiety in social situations. A useful piece to get people to consider who they are and what motivates their behavior. Thank you, again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A Venn Diagram! I hadn’t thought of that! I’ll have to see how I could create that! You’ve brought up some great thoughts about how anxiety and timidity play in the whe picture, for it is never cut and dried is it? The combination of emotions varies from individual to individual, even in the situations that trigger one person while having little effect on another! They’re excellent things to ponder on and write about in the future!


  5. This is cracking me up because recently a friend asked me what I first noticed and liked about my now-husband. I told her he was really nice. She went, “Ugh. Nice?” So I said, “He was very kind.” That seemed to satisfy her more. Haha! Now I get the distinction!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Now that you are aware of a difference, does that make any difference for you, or does it deepen your existing feelings?


  6. Love this contrast that you paint and how you did under the covers. The definition of kindness really resonates with me, “Being kind: is more of a character trait of a caring, empathic person who finds an authentic way to help someone. This one is harder to do because it takes thoughtfulness and some time to put it into action.” I’m happy to be nice – but hopefully only if it’s in accordance with being kind! 🙂 Thank you, Tamara!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, being nice without kindness isn’t worth much. We’re conditioned to be nice, but often that is surface fluff, and has only to do with appearances. Kindness takes thought and purposefulness, which to me has more value.

      Liked by 1 person

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