This came to mind today as my jiu jitsu coach said “I’m not a nice person” (yes I have coaches too). Yet he didn't hurt anybody. The difference between nice and kind is doing what is right in the big picture for others. It would've been nice to take it easy on us today at jiu jitsu practice but that would not help us to be better. Instead he was hard on us when we made mistakes. In fact when I messed up he put me into a choke hold. As a result I won’t be making that mistake again.
It may be nice to refrain from telling someone you notice them doing or saying things that cause others to turn away, but is it certainly not kind. You spare their feelings and your own in the short term but allow them to continue to falter. This robs them of the opportunity to improve their social skills which could positively impact their career and lives. This isn’t always easy and sometimes it takes a strong will to say what’s right knowing their may be brushback.
Take the example of a baseball player who admits he's tagged when no one else saw it. This takes integrity. One might argue that this is not helpful, but hurtful to his team who is trying to win the game. However, this integrity is helpful to the game as a whole and providing this example helps everyone on the field to become better people.
Kindness does not always mean hurting other people’s feelings. There are tactful ways to say the things that need be said. Communicating that it’s coming from a place of caring and helping is a good way to accomplish this. In fact leading with that will increase the odds that the other person will be open to listening.
We all know people who seem too nice. Being nice is worrying what others think about you. It's being afraid. Those people who are so nice are often not respected by those for whom they work so hard to earn affection.
Being kind is not always the nice thing to do.
Scott Bitterman MSPE, CSCS
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