Would you say that you are a nice person? What about being a kind person? Let’s talk about these two similar characteristics and compare nice vs. kind. Is there really a difference between the two?

It’s so common to say things like, “Oh, she is so nice.” However, this statement may not mean what you want it to mean.

Let’s just say you’re trying to pay a compliment about the good things a person does, and how warm she seems to be. Well, there is a better word for that. Maybe saying, “She’s so kind”, would be better.

But why?

Nice vs. Kind: What Are the Differences Between the Two?

I bet your mind is churning now, that is unless you already understand the difference between nice and kind. If you know, that’s wonderful, but if you don’t, no worries. I shall break down the reasons why nice doesn’t mean the same thing as kindness. We can practice putting these differences in use as well.

1. Pleasing vs. benevolence

The first difference between nice and kind is how the word ‘pleasing’ comes into play. Most people use the word nice when trying to please someone or make them happy, but usually, it is for something in return. For instance, it’s nice to buy someone lunch, but a nice person can also be a selfish individual.

Benevolence is associated more with being kind. When you are a kind person, you genuinely want to help someone or do something for them. As for buying lunch, a kind person does this with no intention of being repaid. It’s considered a gesture of love.

2. Deception vs. truth

Believe it or not, being nice can go hand in hand with being deceptive. When you need to break negative news to a loved one, if you’re just being nice, you might choose to hide the truths.

Maybe you feel like they won’t like you if you tell them. It could even be that you don’t wish to cause pain or trouble, and so you lie. Nice can seem so flimsy at times.

The truth, on the other hand, is told by kind people who understand the possible repercussions from the news. Even though bad news may cause pain and anger, a kind person will always try to find ways to tell the whole story, but as gently as possible.

Being nice is appearing to be kind and shirking responsibilities of truths. Being kind is doing the right thing no matter what.

3. Politeness vs. Caring

Anyone can be nice. They just might not be able to do it for long periods of time. You can open doors for people, pull out chairs, and even let those in line go before you. You are being nice, and thus, you appear as a polite person. Hey, you may be, but…

Being kind means caring, all the time. If you are a kind person, you can still open doors for people and such, but it’s a mindset for you, not a way to make people like you. Even if someone doesn’t like you, when you’re a kind person, you may still do these things for them.

To truly care about someone takes guts, so with saying that, being kind is truly a strong character trait.

4. Avoidance vs. Tough love

Here’s another way to look at nice vs. kind: avoiding serious situations and showing true love. A nice person, when dealing with a problem, will avoid confrontation to fix things. They want to be seen as a good person, always looked upon as kind.

But it’s not kindness that’s present in this case. It’s simply ignoring things in favor of your image.

Kindness shows a rare true love. I don’t mean love in the romantic sense, I mean unconditional love, and love that never falters in hard times. In some circumstances, someone you care about will need tough love. They will need the truth and a push to better themselves. You might hear a kind person say,

“It’s time you get yourself together and stop fooling around”.

This is not an insult. This comes from a person who truly cares and sees potential past a troubled person’s own perceptions of themselves.

5. Compliments vs. constructive criticism

The word nice is best used when giving a compliment on a pair of shoes. For example,

“That’s a nice pair of sneakers you’re wearing, man.”

You see, now how much sense would it make if you replaced nice with kind in that statement? Not to give a lesson in grammar or anything, but nice is okay for complimentary situations like this. However…

While you wouldn’t use kind to give a compliment, you would use kind words when giving out criticisms. If you try to be nice, you might not tell a friend if a color isn’t her best. If you’re kind, you will tell them.

Now, while this might come over as unnecessary, would you want to wear an uncomplimentary color if you knew? I wouldn’t. So, while being nice says nothing, a kind person can say something like this,

“That color is okay, but I think blue looks better on you, to be honest”.

See how that works?

Is it really that important?

So what’s the deal about nice vs. kind? Is it really necessary to point out the differences between the two? Isn’t it just as good to be a nice person as a kind person? I mean, what are we losing? Well, while being nice is better than being mean, it’s not quite genuine.

It’s a thin version of kindness that’s sometimes wasted protecting one’s insecurities. Being kind can actually open you up to exploring those insecurities, and help you learn to build your self-esteem.

Yes, kindness isn’t always easy, but it’s that tough part that makes us better, stronger, and even more kind in the long run. I suggest kindness over being nice any day. How about you?


  1. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca
  2. https://www.scu.edu

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