There is a difference between being kind and being nice. Hang in there for me. Hear me out. Kindness is Karma. Nice sucks.
I once knew a friend who did everything right in the eyes of society. She was an intelligent woman with a sharp mind, wit, and tongue. She doled out compliments easily and pointed out everything great about you. Only in knowing her a little better, you’ll find shadow judgments hidden behind those nice words. I was one of the lucky few she dispensed such information to.
I don’t give out compliments as easily but when I do, I mean every single word of it. And I am not afraid to show my pure admiration and willingness to promote the hell out of this person, whether he or she asks for it.
This is the true essence of kindness.
Niceness, on the other hand, can be practiced, rehearsed, and then perfected.
Two decades of meeting people from all walks of life in their offices discussing projects, work, company direction, content management, web development, social media, work culture, and yes, life, I’ve learned how to differentiate niceness from kindness.
Kindness is raw.
It’s like the energy you feel because a person genuinely is out there for you. There was only one instance that I fell for the niceties and it ended with me discovering the awful truth behind it and feeling hurt about it for more than a month.
I berated myself for not seeing through her facade even when I was surprised by how quickly she lashed out at people who were criticizing her. She complimented me when I was defending myself against her counterpart in the office, and she used me as a shield.
She sweated it out with other colleagues and I remember coming into office the very first day and she said she was glad that she knew for sure that I was on her side.
My mind went blank.
What is this, Avengers?
What I noticed was, however, how tense she was all the time. She was always fighting something, either with herself or others around her. Generally speaking, I err on the side of being too chill.
Conflict, confusion, challenges, and erosion of trust are bound to happen in any environment, be it at home or at work. What this person was doing was to protect herself consistently (whether she was being attacked or not) and take out her opponents when they are not looking.
And she was always so anxious about stuff…just about everything, in fact. I just didn’t get it. She was being nice to me so that I could bolster her confidence or back-up?
And that’s the thing: Nice people are often some of the most resentful and indignant on the planet because what they do is proffer a smile to the outside world while internally, they seethe. Like a bandage on a gunshot wound, the projected image is not a reflection of what’s really going on.
Alia Rahman — Medium, Human Parts
I get tired of being nice and for the last year and a half, I’ve had my face shoved into the sand for being ‘nice’. So, clearly, being nice sucks.
Being nice really sucks.
It felt like I go to sleep the real person that I am, wake up pumped to be a person I am not, and then spend the entire day trying my best to be the most authoritarian, bossiest person I can be.
There’s a difference between being firm and an asshole, as it turns out. Some people just don’t know the difference.
So, here’s my conclusion…and it doesn’t have to be yours. Your world is very different from mine. But if you’re facing the same dilemma, here’s what I want you to understand.
I urge you to be kind, anyway, despite the uphill struggle, emotional turmoil, mocking, belittlement, and unkind words you get. There is a nice way to stand your ground or say ‘no’.
Today, I wake up still striving to be sincere, thoughtful, truthful, and brave about what I encounter. I wake up trying my best to decipher what lies behind people’s thoughts and actions, their emotions because I want to meet them where they are so that we can align our thoughts.
I do that not because I have to. It’s because I WANT to. Like this guy in the YouTube video. He has in spades how to be kind to the most unsuspecting people in his neighborhood and it made me smile.
I don’t dish out compliments easily but there are moments in the day where I felt that someone did an exceptional job and deserves to know what I think…and I dole it out quickly and genuinely. But most importantly, even when people are not handing them out to you, make it a habit to compliment yourself too.
No, this is not narcissism. It’s self-preservation and an emotional boost. You see, you’ve got to be genuine about that too. It’s like giving yourself the mental muscle to move forward in the face of something extremely difficult.
Some people forget that they’re not perfect, you see. Or they hide it really well.
Remember that we are all works-in-progress. We can’t go it alone despite how much experience we’ve had and how good we think we are. We’re all struggling with something that possibly no one else knows about.
Human beings are exceptionally good at deceiving themselves and I am no stranger to that. I’ve known people (and myself) who pretend that everything is perfectly fine when the bricks around our perfect cul-de-sac homes are on fire.
I know of people who power through their days like they’re Thanos.
Even amid a crisis, they convince others and themselves that they’ve got it. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you don’t have everything together, in my personal opinion. This author details how she dealt with the death of her mother and how it changed her life. I found it absolutely riveting.
We hide anger, frustrations, agitation, disgruntled feelings, envy, annoyance…all those negative feelings a lot more than we would like to admit.
I now love myself enough to realize that being nice is full of shit. It’s hiding my flaws without making amends. There is a better way to get things across instead of swallowing all the garbage thrown my way without taking every single freaking person on a magic carpet ride.
Aladdin is friggin’ fiction.
Being nice also doesn’t change anything. It is a kind of failure. Admitting flaws, mistakes, and exhibiting the willingness to change is not the greatest show of perfectionism but it is a kind of humility. I’ve long accepted the fact that I can’t change people. The job description The Universe handed me did not include ‘change everyone around you’; it simply said ‘change and improve yourself and the people you can’.
In my culture, respect for elders and bosses is expected; sometimes demanded. Respect, I opine, has more to do with being honest, sincere, and authentic without pissing people off. By not putting on a show, you’re giving the person the respect you think they deserve.
You may lose jobs, friends, and maybe even a family or two, though.
But I believe in Karma. Karma, to me, is the biggest force in the Universe. I would do things for people without expectations and others would, like, look at me saying, ‘Why you do something so damn stupid?’
Kindness is one of the greatest and most influential actions in the human race. Think of all those people who are willing to jump in to help you when you’re in trouble? Think of all those firefighters who rush into a catastrophe while everyone’s clamoring out.
They don’t go in because they want to be heroes. They do it because it’s an inherent reaction to be kind. People who win in the game of life don’t always do things because they have something to gain from it. They do it because there’s something they can’t otherwise gain from doing something money-driven.
I know a lot of people who will disagree with me, judge me, and think of me no smarter than a blunt butter knife. But that’s what I stand by.
Instead of being nice, which could be labeled as fake, being kind is something I won’t bend on.
Have a great weekend, everyone! And don’t forget to write on,