There is a distinct difference between being nice and being kind. A nice person isn’t necessarily a kind person or a person you want to be friends with. But a kind person, a person who displays kindness, is a person I’ll always want to be friends with. Dictionary.com defines “nice” as:
nice adjective, nic·er, nic·est.
1. pleasing; agreeable; delightful: a nice visit.
2. amiably pleasant; kind: They are always nice to strangers.
3. characterized by, showing, or requiring great accuracy, precision, skill, tact, care, or delicacy: nice workmanship; a nice shot; a nice handling of a crisis.
4. showing or indicating very small differences; minutely accurate, as instruments: a job that requires nice measurements.
5. minute, fine, or subtle: a nice distinction.
Yes, the word “kind” is included in the second line of the definition. But that’s not true for the definition of “kind” which reads:
adjective, -er, -est.
1. of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person: a kind and loving person.
2. having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence: kind words.
3. indulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane (often followed by to ): to be kind to animals.
4. mild; gentle; clement: kind weather.
5. British Dialect . loving; affectionate.
Lately, I’ve realized that people who I thought were nice, really aren’t. And since they’re not that nice what they’ve really showed me that they aren’t kind people. I don’t think I’m splitting hairs here. It’s sort of like nice is another way to be fake. A friend and I talked about this and she said “nice is not enough,” people need to be thoughtful too. I know what she means; I come from that lucky place where my greatest, closest friends (and my incredible sister) are the kindest people I know. They are always willing to help or listen and have my best interests at heart…always. These are the people I want to spend my time with; because they’re worth spending time with.
What kills me and truly disappoints me are those people who think they are kind and thoughtful, but aren’t. Just because someone told you were nice once doesn’t mean that adjective sticks forever. If you’ve changed or are acting differently, then guess what that word nice doesn’t apply to you anymore.
I knew someone once who everyone called “the nicest person,” myself included. Boy was I wrong. She moved to town and needed a job. I went into the depths of my friends, friends of friends, contacts, colleagues, etc. to see if anyone could help her get a job. I shopped here resume to everyone I could. Then I even let her stay with me in my 1 bedroom apartment for almost a month. Not once did she offer to clean, put her dishes in the dishwasher, buy dinner, but groceries, or help with any chores. In fact, every time I came home she’d be on the phone or her laptop and wouldn’t even look up when she said hello to me. And did I mention she had the nerve to ask to sleep in my bed with me so she wouldn’t have to sleep on the couch? I introduced her husband to my guy friends, with whom he is still friends with today. I took her to every event I could and introduced her to my friends. What did I get in return? “Your friends never call me to make plans.” “Umm, maybe you should reach out to them,” I offered. (That’s what I did when I moved to Dallas and didn’t know a soul. I reached out to people). At the end of this incredible (being sarcastic here) time together, when she no longer needed a place to stay, she and her husband gave me a gift. It was a nice gift. But it didn’t make up for the lack of thank yous or lack of offers to help around my apartment. She wasn’t nice. And then when the tables were turned a year or two later and I needed her help, as in it's-an-emergency-I-need-help, she didn’t act. She made excuses. It was as if she was frozen or incapable of remembering everything I’d done and continued to do for her. That behavior was not nice and beyond unkind. And that’s the story of how the so-called nicest person I knew became one of the most unkind people I’ve ever met.
Kind people don’t try to make themselves feel better by making you feel bad or ashamed about something. Kind people don’t continually act selfishly. (I know we all act selfishly at times and sometimes we have to put ourselves first, but doing this relentlessly and without any regard to another’s feelings is not kind.) Kind people are helpful—they possesses a generosity of spirit. Kind people apologize and mean it.