I have stopped being nice. Instead I’m learning how to be kind.
I’ve been training since birth to be nice: be polite, sit up straight, smile, keep your elbows off the table. If a friend is coming into town, it’s proper to invite them to stay at your house. If an acquaintance says let’s get together for a coffee, niceties dictate yes is the only answer. Even if you are busy or would rather not. Declining polite offers is always rude. My training in niceness taught me that no is rude and yes is correct.
Kindness is different. It is not a list of Do’s and Don’ts. It is not simply saying yes to appease. In fact, sometimes kindness is not “nice” at all.
Friend: “Hey Leah, let’s go for coffee soon”
Nice Leah: “Sure! Anytime!” (and then never get back to that person because I am really not that keen on going out anywhere right now.)
Kind Leah: “Thanks for the offer, but right now I am feeling overwhelmed with work and COVID and am just not up for going out for coffee.”
Kindness respects the person suggesting the coffee, and with honesty and some vulnerability, says no.
Kindness is a conversation, an opportunity to discuss. Kindness is connection. Kindness is still offering your seat to an elderly or pregnant person on the bus, but by saying “Would you like my seat?” Not forcing them to sit or insisting them out of their no.
Being kind means being honest with yourself and with others and letting others be honest with you.