“Kindness emerges from someone who’s confident, compassionate and comfortable with themselves. A kind person is loving and giving out of the goodness of their heart. At the root of extreme niceness, however, are feelings of inadequacy and the need to get approval and validation from others.”
- Marcha Sirota
In an age of allyship, understanding and acting on the basis of kindness, not niceness, is critical. Allyship is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people.
All marginalized people benefit from having an ally. And all humans benefit from being an ally.
But checking in with an ally’s motivations is worth doing because if the motivation is to be nice rather than to be kind, the allyship may fall short. Worse, it could actually be a disservice to both the ally and the allied.
Kindness vs Niceness
Let’s look at these two places of allyship motivation
- Act from expectations
- Seek to please others
- Have poor boundaries
- Censor themselves to spare others’ feelings
- Are enabling
- Act from genuine feelings
- Treat others and themselves well
- Have healthy boundaries
- Are true to themselves
- Are helping.
Next time you are in a situation where you are standing up for a marginalized person or group, be aware of the difference between Nice and Kind. Choose to approach the situation from a place of kindness and you will be a more trusted, consistent and accountable ally.
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