What’s the difference between being courteous and being kind?
For the sake of simplicity, I define being courteous as a social custom we’re taught. It comes with an expectation of being treated with courtesy. Same with using good manners and doing what is expected of us.
For my purposes, kindness is something else. Over the years I’ve worked to refine my own definition of kindness and currently have settled on this one:
Kindness is the mindful awareness of self and others that compels one to act thoughtfully.
Practically, kindness is a self-contained act in which the action or thought involved brings its own reward. There is no expectation for reciprocity; in fact, sometimes we worry that receiving something in response to a kind act diminishes our kindness.
For this reason, many of us prefer to complete our kind acts anonymously.
I encourage you to take some time to think about this. Write or talk to someone about a time when you behaved with courtesy and another time when you behaved with kindness.
- What was the same?
- What was different?
- How did you feel in both cases?