To me, there is a big difference between being ‘nice’ and being ‘kind.’
Being nice means saying ‘nice’ things to keep rules and avoid confrontations and just be polite. They don’t have to be true (and often aren’t) or helpful. Being nice just gets you through the interaction with the least possibility of friction. It leans towards selfishness.
Being kind often says nice things, too, but not because it’s what you are supposed to say. It’s because you mean them. It also means that you say things that may not seem so ‘nice,’ though you make a great effort to consider the recipient’s feelings and make corrections and comments in the kindest way possible. It is honest, because kind honesty is better for the person than nice lies. You are looking out for the person’s entire well-being, not just avoiding confrontation, bending over backwards to make them feel comfortable for the moment even if their current path, if left unchecked, will lead to a great deal of pain. Kindness also DOES a lot. When you are kind, you listen, you do, you assist in ways that truly help, instead of just fitting a mold or looking nice. Kindness by nature is selfless.
For a practical example: Kindness notices someone’s passion for music, helps them find instructors, encourages practice, praises hard work, praises them, supports them as they improve themselves to their full, wonderful potential.
Niceness, on the other hand, tells them they are amazing even when they are very not, tells them to never listen to the ‘haters’ (aka anyone who might not fill them with empty praise about their singing) and ‘never let go of their dreams’ until the recipient has such a false sense of accomplishment that they end up embarrassing themselves in front of millions of people on something like American Idol, then they feel like a victim of a cruel system rather than finding the joy and satisfaction of learning what is really good, being helped and supported to improve, and becoming truly great.
As my friend Andrea says, “I’m not a nice person, but I am kind.”
I try to be, anyway.