Ever bumped into someone always with a ‘Yes, Sir!’ attitude? Yeah, I’ve met my fair share. And let me let you in on a juicy, yet somewhat sad tale. Back in my days with one of those Fortune 500 behemoths, there was a guy we’ll call John. Now, this dude was the poster child for “niceness.” Imagine a human smiley sticker, just sticking on every request, every damn time. The kind of guy you knew would cover for your mistakes not because it was right, but because he couldn’t say no. We’d all laugh, sometimes calling him ‘the company’s golden retriever.’ But behind those chuckles, many of us secretly whispered, “Damn, I hope I never end up like that.”

Then, in the other corner, was Emily. Not the ever-nodding, all-approving yes-bot. No, Emily had this magical aura – she was the ‘real deal.’ She wouldn’t sugarcoat, wouldn’t pat your back if you messed up. But when Emily said something, boy, it carried weight. She didn’t just do things to be in everyone’s good books; she did things because they felt right. Authentic. Genuine.

Now, some of you might be thinking, “Isn’t that just semantics? Nice, kind, tomato, tomahto?” But, hell no! There’s a world of difference. And here’s the kicker – while John was drowning in his pool of perpetual niceness, it was Emily’s blend of kindness and genuine intent that made her float and, might I add, sail smoothly.

But why? Why did John’s ‘niceness’ feel more like a self-imposed prison, while Emily’s ‘kindness’ looked like the passport to professional freedom? And trust me, this isn’t just about the corporate world – it spills into our everyday lives, relationships, friendships, you name it.

I’ll spill the beans on the glaring contrasts between these two. And before you get too cozy with your ‘nice’ tag, you’ll get to see why maybe, just maybe, you’d want to toss that out and pick up the ‘kind’ badge instead. After all, why settle for being liked when you can be loved and respected?

Defining “Nice” vs. “Kind”

When you’re in the business world, especially for as long as I have been, you come to realize that the way we label people has profound impacts. Not just on how we perceive them, but on how they perceive themselves and interact within their environments. And two such labels I’ve seen thrown around, often interchangeably but wrongly so, are “nice” and “kind.”

So, let’s get one thing straight: being “nice” isn’t the same as being “kind.” Let me break it down.

You see, when someone is “nice,” they often operate out of a drive for external validation. They’re the folks that thrive on the little pats on the back, the nods of approval, the fleeting moments of being in everyone’s good graces. It’s almost like a fuel that keeps them running. But, here’s the thing – this fuel isn’t clean. It’s muddled with an underlying fear of rejection. The “nice” ones dread the idea of confrontation or, heaven forbid, disappointment. They maneuver their actions, words, even beliefs based on the potential reactions of others. They’re like chameleons, changing colors based on the external environment, always looking to blend in, never standing out.

On the flip side, when we talk about “kind” individuals, we’re talking about people who act out of internal motivation and a strong sense of self-respect. Their decisions aren’t anchored on the whims of others but on what feels right to them. They aren’t seeking applause or validation; their satisfaction comes from within. There’s a solidity, a core integrity to their actions. And the beauty of it? Their actions stem from a genuine desire to do the right thing. Not because they want to be seen doing the right thing, but because it IS the right thing.

And while this might sound like a slight nuance, trust me, the implications are massive. The “kind” folks are often the ones who sleep soundly at night, with a clear conscience, not plagued by the fear of ‘what will they think of me now?’ They’re the ones who can look themselves in the mirror every morning, knowing they haven’t traded their authenticity for temporary approval.

Now, I get it. We all want to be liked, be part of the tribe, feel included. That’s human nature. But there’s a price to pay when your entire persona is built on this shaky foundation of niceness. And often, that price is your own sense of self, your peace, and, paradoxically, genuine connections with others.

Dangers of Being Excessively Nice

In the bustling corridors of big corporations, amidst the relentless hustle of startups, there’s a hidden danger lurking. It’s not the late-night coffee runs, nor the deadlines that stretch into weekends. Nope. It’s something much more insidious: the peril of being too dang nice.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing inherently bad about being pleasant or amiable. We could all do with a little more civility in our lives. But, here’s the twist. When “niceness” is turned up to eleven, it goes from being a virtue to a vice.

One of the first casualties of this extreme niceness? Authenticity. When you’re hell-bent on being the ever-agreeable guy or gal, there’s a good chance you’re suppressing your true self. You’re editing your words, biting your tongue, and putting on a mask. Every. Single. Day. That’s exhausting, isn’t it? More than that, it’s tragic. The world misses out on the real you, and over time, you might just forget who that person was.

Next up, we’ve got another biggie. When you’re playing Mr. or Ms. Nice all the time, you’re often drifting away from your true needs, feelings, and opinions. You might end up saying “yes” to projects you have zero passion for, or nodding in agreement to views that you don’t truly resonate with. It’s like you’re floating in a river of everyone else’s expectations, getting further away from the shores of your own essence.

And here comes the kicker. All this niceness, this bending over backward to be the agreeable one, creates an illusion of connections. Think about it. People might say, “Oh, that Jamie? Super nice!” But, in the very next breath, they might add, “But, do I really know them?” When you’re always the affable one, never rocking the boat, it’s hard for people to see the depths beneath the placid surface. They might like you, sure, but will they respect you? Will they trust you with the big projects, the game-changing decisions? That’s a question worth pondering.

Now, you might be wondering, “But Geoffrey, isn’t it good to avoid conflict, to make people happy?” And I’d say, “Of course! But at what cost?” If the price is your genuine self, your dreams, and potentially, deeper, meaningful relationships, then, my friend, it’s too steep a price.

It’s high time we recognize that there’s a difference between being a pushover and being cordial. Between seeking validation and seeking mutual respect. Between living on borrowed reflections and shining with your own genuine light.

I’ve been on both sides of this coin, and trust me, while the allure of being the ‘nice one’ is strong, the fulfillment and respect that come from being genuinely kind and authentic? That’s where the magic truly lies.

The Authenticity of Kindness

You ever notice how some folks have this aura around them? An unshakeable confidence, a magnetic pull? They’re not pushovers, but they’re not jerks either. They’re something else, something better. They’re kind. Authentic. Real. And that authenticity? It’s not just refreshing—it’s downright revolutionary, especially in a world where so many of us wear masks just to fit in.

Being genuinely kind means standing firm in confrontation. It’s not about being combative or looking for a fight, but rather about holding your ground, knowing your worth, and respecting the perspectives of others—even when they clash with your own. It’s about navigating difficult waters with grace, understanding, and, above all, authenticity.

Imagine being presented with a proposal at work. The numbers don’t add up, and you know it. The “nice” path? Nod along, maybe raise a soft objection or two, but ultimately let it slide. The “kind” approach? Calmly, confidently, and respectfully pointing out the flaws, offering alternatives, and seeking a solution that benefits everyone. It might be a tad uncomfortable in the moment, but the long-term respect you earn? Priceless.

This brings us to another beautiful facet of genuine kindness: welcoming feedback as a growth mechanism. Those who are authentically kind recognize that feedback—both praise and criticism—isn’t a threat. Instead, it’s a gift. It’s an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to become even better. When someone offers feedback, they’re sharing a piece of their perspective, their world. Embracing it with an open heart, even when it stings, showcases maturity, self-awareness, and a commitment to personal growth.

Now, let’s dive into an aspect of kindness that I’ve seen transform workplaces and personal relationships alike: the art of setting boundaries. If there’s one thing I’ve observed over my two-decades-long journey in the business realm, it’s that those who master the delicate dance of setting boundaries are the ones who truly thrive. It’s not about building walls, but rather defining spaces. It’s about communicating clearly what you’re okay with and what you’re not. And doing so in a way that’s rooted in respect—for yourself and for others. In a way, setting boundaries is like giving others a map to understand you better, to work harmoniously with you.

So, as we journey through life, it becomes imperative to ask ourselves: Are we merely aiming to be liked, or are we striving to be understood, respected, and genuinely valued? Because, trust me on this, the path of true kindness might have its challenges, but its rewards—in terms of deep connections, self-respect, and lasting impact—are unparalleled.

In the end, the authentic glow of kindness will always outshine the fleeting sparkle of niceness. So, dare to be genuine, dare to be kind, and watch as the world responds in kind.

Societal Perception: Nice vs. Kind

Ah, society. Our ever-judging, ever-changing audience. You see, over the years, I’ve rubbed shoulders with the best in the industry, attended swanky galas, launched startups, and sat on leather chairs in corporate boardrooms. And if there’s one truth I’ve picked up, it’s this: while society might smile at the nice, they secretly tip their hats to the kind.

Why? Because there’s something undeniably magnetic about someone who’s authentic. Someone who stands tall in their beliefs, who doesn’t bend over backward just to win a nod of approval. It’s that unspoken charisma that draws respect. The ‘nice’ folks? They’re likeable, sure, but there’s always this nagging feeling of uncertainty. Is this who they really are? Are their gestures genuine or just a pursuit of validation?

You’ve probably seen it too. The overly eager colleague who’s perpetually ready to take on tasks, even at the cost of their well-being, driven by the insatiable need to please. It might win them short-term points, but in the long haul? They’re risking burnout, and more crucially, the respect of their peers. Because always saying ‘yes’ without any discernment can quickly drift into the realm of unreliability. People start wondering: Do they have a standpoint on anything?

This eagerness to please can spiral into an ironic cycle. By seeking approval relentlessly, one often faces the opposite: rejection or, worse still, indifference. When you’re always the ‘yes man’ or ‘yes woman’, people might take your efforts for granted, not valuing the sacrifices you make. But when you’re kind, when you have that genuine intention backed by honest action, even a ‘no’ is met with understanding and respect.

It’s not that being nice is a cardinal sin. Far from it. But in a world that’s more connected than ever, authenticity has become a rare commodity. And in this landscape, the kind emerge as the torchbearers of genuine connections, leaders who inspire with actions, not just words.

Remember that dinner party where one person, maybe not the loudest, held the room’s attention? The one whose stories weren’t just fluff, but had depth, wisdom, and a sprinkle of humor? Chances are, you were in the presence of someone kind, someone who had journeyed inward, discovered their authentic self, and weren’t afraid to share it with the world.

Being nice is a start, but being kind? That’s the real game-changer. In life, in business, in relationships – authenticity reigns supreme. The challenge? To move beyond the superficial, beyond the need for constant validation, and tap into that wellspring of genuine kindness that resides in all of us. So, next time you’re faced with a choice, remember: it’s not about trying to fit in; it’s about standing out in the best possible way.

Transitioning from Nice to Kind

There’s a pivotal moment in everyone’s life—a juncture where you look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Who am I? And more importantly, who do I want to be?” For our dear friend John, it was a bitter cold winter evening when he realized he was worn out from the incessant nodding, the relentless agreeing, the tiresome act of being the ‘nice guy’. He decided it was high time he embraced his inner Emily. And oh boy, did the transformation pack a punch.

Starting with the basics: what does it mean to transition from nice to kind? Well, it’s about trading in the facade for authenticity, swapping out that external validation for self-worth that’s rooted deep within.

Taking responsibility for one’s self-worth is no easy feat. It requires introspection, brutal honesty, and a willingness to challenge long-held beliefs. Think about it. How often have we sought validation from our peers, our bosses, or even strangers on social media? How often have we molded our personalities, bit our tongues, or curtailed our desires to fit into a preconceived mold? The truth is, we’ve all been there. But the beauty of self-worth is that once you discover it, it’s like finding a treasure trove within yourself. It illuminates your path, providing clarity and direction.

Now, for the skeptics among us, I get it. Letting go of external validation sounds all rosy in theory, but how does one actually achieve it? To begin with, it’s about understanding and accepting that your worth is not contingent on someone else’s opinion or approval. It’s inherent, unchangeable, and independent. By internalizing this, you not only bolster your self-esteem but also foster genuine connections based on mutual respect rather than superficial niceties.

Furthermore, transitioning to kindness means developing self-regard. It’s not narcissism or conceit. Instead, it’s a profound understanding of your value as an individual. It’s recognizing your strengths, acknowledging your weaknesses, and embracing your quirks. By cultivating this self-regard, you inadvertently radiate a confidence that’s grounded in reality, not in appeasement.

Then comes the pièce de résistance: embracing the positive spiral. Imagine a world where respect is a given, not an exception. A world where disagreements are seen as opportunities for growth, not personal affronts. A world where, instead of simmering in suppressed anger, you’re basking in the warm glow of mutual understanding. This is the realm of the kind. It’s a domain where every interaction is genuine, every smile is heartfelt, and every word carries weight.

In essence, the journey from nice to kind is a transformative one, a metamorphosis of sorts. It’s about shedding the weight of societal expectations and emerging as a more authentic, self-assured version of oneself. And trust me, once you embark on this voyage, there’s no turning back. Because, at the end of the day, wouldn’t we all want to be remembered for our kindness rather than our niceness?


Picture this: a room filled with two distinct groups of individuals. On one side, there’s a cluster of people constantly nodding, bending backward to appease, and essentially walking on eggshells lest they ruffle any feathers. These are our ‘nice’ folks. On the other side, we have individuals engaged in vibrant conversations, sometimes challenging, often enlightening, but always authentic. These, my friends, are the ‘kind’ ones.

To be ‘nice’ is a choice, just as to be ‘kind’ is. But the ramifications of these choices are profound and far-reaching. While niceness may provide momentary comfort, a temporary refuge from confrontation, it often comes at a cost—be it bottled-up emotions, suppressed desires, or even a stunted personal growth. Kindness, on the other hand, while it may seem challenging initially, paves the way for genuine connections, mutual respect, and a true understanding of oneself and others.

Our buddy John learned this the hard way. He trudged through the corporate jungle, wearing his ‘nice’ badge with a mix of pride and resignation. But the day he decided to take a leaf out of Emily’s book, to embrace that authenticity, to prioritize kindness over superficial niceness, his world underwent a seismic shift. No longer did he feel the weight of others’ expectations. Instead, he reveled in the newfound freedom that came with being his true self.

To the young, spirited creatives and budding entrepreneurs reading this: as you embark on your journey, be it in the realm of arts, business, or any other endeavor, remember that the world doesn’t need more ‘yes-men’ or ‘yes-women’. The world is craving authenticity, yearning for individuals who stand their ground, voice their opinions, and do so with respect and kindness.

In the grand tapestry of life, it’s the genuine threads of kindness that make the most vibrant patterns, while the muted hues of niceness fade into the background. It’s not about rejecting the idea of being agreeable or amicable. But there’s a stark difference between being agreeable for the sake of appeasement and being kind because it’s the right thing to do.

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.