"Nice" put me in the happiness delivery business. Some of the people took their drink, said thank
you, and went back to their conversations. Some of them looked at me and grinned ear to ear, squealing, "Oh, you're so adorable! Thank you, sweetheart! Isn't she adorable???" I had platinum blonde hair and I did "nice" really well, so I guess I was, in fact, adorable.
I was also four years old.
"Nice", as I grew up, became a sketchier thing to be. How could I continue to be nice if someone was rude to me? What if someone was uncaring? How was I supposed to be both "nice" and self-protective?
About a year ago, I stumbled across a counter-concept to "nice": that one can instead be "kind". The difference seemed obvious to me, and I immediately opted for being kind. Kindness has a more expansive emotional impact than "niceness". It also seems more authentic.
Kindness includes respect and thoughtfulness, where niceness always seems to mean to put myself, often, at least second in a conversation, and to put myself, most often, dead last.
Nice means I stay in the happiness delivery business, feeling and acting responsible for goodwill. So, if I am teaching, the far end of nice would mean my having to spare my students' feelings by hiding corrective truths. What a tragedy! Students want to learn, and they need to learn from what they do wrong as well as what they do right!
Kindness, on the other hand, has a more expansive emotional impact than niceness. It gives the leeway to tell the truth, and to do it with respect and gentleness.
Is this a distinction without a difference?
Language shapes our perception, and through our perceptions we shape our language. For many women, in particular, being "nice" is a hamstringing concept that goes hand in hand with the idea of being a "good girl". "Good girls" don't make waves; they look for ways to serve, to soothe and to obey.
So, when approaching a situation, the concepts you carry will either empower or disempower you.
The next time you have to communicate - the next time you have to walk into a meeting - which will you choose: to be "nice" and hold back, or to communicate your full message, and do so with kindness?
Entrepreneur, Actor, Speaker and Rebellious Game-Changer - that's me. I coach women, helping them recognize, understand and break out of the social "shoulds" to become empowered, powerful and masterful communicators, on stage and off.