Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Nice or Kind?

     I had an interesting phone call today that reminded me of the difference between being "nice" and being "kind".  Let me tell you what happened first, and then explain why this difference is important.
     I was invited by a friend to attend an event she was hosting last night, and I readily agreed.  As it turned out, the evening ended up being more of a marketing event that I had expected.  For a variety of reasons, it made me very uncomfortable and I thought there were many ways it could have been handled much better.  Though I didn't think it was the time and place to express my feelings, I let my friend know that if she wanted some candid feedback I'd be happy to talk more the next day (today). 
     My friend and I have enough respect for each other that I could be quite candid without fear of hurting her feelings or damaging our relationship.  And I was.  In a constructive way, I was honest about how I was feeling during the meeting and offered many suggestions for how it could be improved in the future.  My friend was able to hear my comments in the spirit in which they were intended and was quite appreciative of my candor, as it seems many of my thoughts mirrored her own.  Our conversation was productive and useful.
     I certainly could have been "nice", like most people often are, and either not said anything or told her that it was a great meeting.  But would that be kind?  I don't think so.  While we don't always think of it this way, being kind is very demanding.  It requires us to really look out for the interests of another.  Sometimes that means having difficult or awkward conversations, not simply to get something off our chest, but rather to be helpful to another person.  Being kind to our children might mean expecting more of them than they're currently showing, or holding them accountable for being the best they can be.  This may not look like we're being "nice", but it's infinitely more kind.
     I was glad that I cared enough to be kind to my friend and respected her enough to be honest.  I think she was glad as well.

1 comment:

  1. In Toastmasters, we strive to give positive, motivational, yet specific feedback to help the speaker improve without whitewashing or being overly critical. That kind of evaluation, as it's called, is not only useful in Toastmasters, but is essential in life. It's very much like what you've described. And, yes, it's very kind. :)

    Congrats again on a year doing something that is really valuable. I hope to hear more stories of kindness from you in 2013!