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  • Writer's pictureSedruola Maruska

Beyond Niceness: The Profound Power of True Kindness in Business and Life


Beyond Niceness: The Profound Power of True Kindness in Business and Life by Sedie Maruska for SOULACY Magazine


I was sitting at my desk contemplating niceness vs. kindness in my work when my pastor’s text message came through “Please send a title and blurb for your talk on April 24th”


The first thing that came to me was “Don’t be nice” so I sent it to him with a quick blurb “We live in a world where we've been taught to be nice. However, nice is not how we connect with each other, because nice is mostly superficial. Let's be kind.”


To be honest, I had no idea how I was going to back that up. That phrase goes completely against what we’ve been taught, what we’ve learned and what we teach our children.


Nice is our default mode, especially as parents.

  • “that’s not nice.”

  • “be nice”

  • “Play nice.”


But what does it mean? 


Somewhere in the waaaaaaaaaay back of our minds we know, we’ve just never verbalized it. Think about that time when your friend said they wanted to introduce you to someone.


When you asked, “what are they like?” If your friend said “they’re nice.” You thought “they’re ugly.”


If your friend said “they’re really nice!” then what you heard was “they’re really ugly.” Right? Be honest.


Why?


Let’s leave nice and move on to kind. . . it’s the thing I most want to be, and it’s the thing I love to encounter in other people.

Because nice is ambiguous. Nice doesn’t give us any information that we can latch on to. It’s just… nice.


And in the back of our minds, we know nice can mean unpleasant things.

So, let’s learn about “nice” and why “kindness” is way better. Because, no, they’re not the same thing.

I could say it just depends on the tone we use, but it goes a lot deeper than that.

According to Merriam-Webster, my favorite online dictionary, nice has several meanings.

As you read the words the dictionary uses to define nice, count how many resonate with you as synonyms for nice:

  • Polite

  • Kind

  • Pleasing

  • Agreeable

  • Appropriate

  • Fitting

  • Socially acceptable

  • Virtuous

  • Respectable


We all know when we’re being “niced” I don’t think that’s a word, but you know what I mean. . . Sometimes to the point of exhaustion.

We all know what it feels like when someone is going through the motions with no heart in the process.

Traditionally, in our culture we use “nice” as a filler word because it’s acceptable.

It’s tolerance.

Let’s leave nice and move on to kind. . . it’s the thing I most want to be, and it’s the thing I love to encounter in other people. It’s not being nice. Although there is an element of nice in kindness, being kind goes deeper, beyond the surface.

Let’s go back to when you were being set up.

If, when you asked your friend about the person they were setting you up with they responded “they’re kind.” I don’t know about you, but I’d pause.

“They’re really kind.” I’d perk up.

We understand kindness intuitively. Just like we understand nice.

Kindness is how we connect with people with whom we don’t share the same language. It’s not niceness, it’s kindness.

As you read the words associate with kindness, consider how they resonate with you:

  • Sympathetic

  • Helpful

  • Gentle

  • Affectionate

  • Loving

  • Attentive

  • Considerate

  • Thoughtful


Consider this: although “nice” uses kind in it’s definition, kind does not use nice.

When we look at the list of words for each of these definitions, it becomes clear why I say, don’t be nice.

At least I hope so.

Now, of course there’s a time and place for everything and there are times when nice is the order of the day.

However, when it comes to truly relating to people; to truly connecting with people; to truly engaging with people, don’t be nice, be kind.

Be sympathetic, helpful, gentle, affectionate, loving, attentive, considerate, and thoughtful.

Don’t be nice. 

We know and feel the difference between niceness and kindness.


Niceness is “you dropped something.”

Kindness is “Here, you dropped this.”


Niceness is “Would you like to sit down?”

Kindness is “Here, take my seat.”


Niceness is leading with your head. Kindness is leading with your heart.

In the work I do I encounter a lot of “nice” people who make up nice companies.

People and places that are 

  • Polite

  • Pleasing

  • Agreeable

  • Appropriate

  • Fitting

  • Socially acceptable

  • Virtuous

  • Respectable

People and places, I feel that lack heart.

Only self-examination can tell you if you’re being nice or kind.

What’s important is taking the time to examine and determine if what you’re projecting is truly what you want to project in the moment, at that time, to those individuals.

As we work to foster more relationships with our communities or within our businesses, let’s remember to lead with heart, kindness. 

It feels better to do it. And it feels better to receive it.



 


TLDR: In "Beyond Niceness: The Profound Power of True Kindness in Business and Life," Sedruola Maruska challenges the conventional preference for being 'nice' and explores how genuine kindness can create deeper, more meaningful connections. The article distinguishes between superficial niceness and the impactful nature of kindness, urging readers to cultivate a heartfelt, considerate approach in personal and professional interactions.

 

Sedruola Maruska is a social justice, equity, inclusion and diversity consultant and coach. Her passion is helping business leaders cultivate cultures of equity and inclusion, to attract the diverse partnerships they desire and mitigating their risk of seeming out of touch.

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