Is It More Important to Be Nice or Kind?


In college, a group of us living in the same apartment developed a shorthand to describe anything without meaning: so cute, so nice. It grew out of an anonymous compliment, holding no merit outside of a passing impression.

Our “so cute, so nice” phrase kept me thinking. Would someone who truly knows me say that I’m nice? And if that’s a characteristic that I possess, I’d much rather read as kind.

Niceness can be passive, unremarkable. Surface level. It can be an afterthought. It spills out of our mouths with good intentions in order to fill a void. The neighbor is nice. The weather is nice. Taking a stroll around the city is nice. When paired with fleeting positions, the nice label can keep things at a distance.

Think about the things we hold most dear – would they be labeled with such timid language? What is the magical thing that takes us over the “nice” threshold and into “kind” territory?


Kindness is an action. And it takes courage. Kindness is making a decision to place others above ourselves, if even for a moment. It is the difference between acting and reacting. It’s as big as giving up our own needs and as small as sending an encouraging text. There is no room for sitting back or passing the baton here. There’s passion in kindness in its quietest form.

Kindness is an action. And it takes courage.

Striving for kindness is important and has some wonderful side effects. It’s life giving. Even small gestures can chip away at the steeliest exterior – of another or even our own. With kindness, we move with purpose and in such a way that lifts others up alongside us. In a cultural climate where we’re too quick to put up boundaries and draw lines, kindness can be a powerful tool to soften hearts when we need it the most.

Kindness isn’t something we inherently are or aren’t. We build it up. We shape our intentions and therefore our actions. So, lets seek to push for a little bit more in our everyday, and spread kindness with intention.

How do you see the difference between being nice and kind?

Image via Sara Forrest

Avery lives in Des Moines, Iowa – the best-kept secret in the Midwest. She writes full-time for a nonprofit while also working on two blogs of her own. She’s always looking for perfect chapstick, warm socks, great people and good words.

  • Erin September 3, 2016

    I really loved this article and the concept of kindness as being niceness in action. I can’t say I ever thought about the difference between “nice” and “kind” before. Great read!

  • Ashley August 3, 2016

    I definitely agree that kindness is in our actions 🙂

  • OB2 August 1, 2016

    Be both! For one to be nice, exhibiting the delicate consideration or treatment of another, the individual will possess the quality/characteristic of kindness; the simple act of showing up with the trait of sympathy or compassion. In short, show up with love, for love is the answer. Love encompasses all. The person being nice if not for a lifetime holds for a second the quality and act of being kind. To be nice and to be kind does intertwine, for it takes kindness to help us see what is nice and the act of being nice to bring life to the quality of kindness. Using words in proper context. Thank you for the article and website.

  • Mia Goros July 31, 2016

    Interesting! I definitely think we all can be quick to call someone or something nice, but not so much as kind. I think the word kindness has more power to it! It’s about taking the time and effort to care and love..

  • Alyssa J Freitas July 31, 2016

    I so agree that kindness is action oriented. I have written on the topic of kindness before and it is the number one trait I most value in others and myself. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it!