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In life, it seems we have two choices. We can be nice or nasty. While we’re not necessarily nice all the time, we can choose whether we want to be nicer or nastier. Being self-aware and prosocial is what helps make life pleasant and positive for those whose paths we cross.
My first experience with a truly nice person was one of my teachers at school. He was different to other teachers in that he was always friendly, caring, and just made you feel inspired. Best of all, it just came naturally to him.
Years later, I find myself acting in ways that I must have picked up from him, and I guess I learned more than just geography from him—and what a vital lesson niceness is!
So how can you learn how to be nicer to others? Understanding niceness and applying it to your life daily will guide you on a much brighter road to personal happiness. It’s time to take the first step, and here’s how.
Why Is It Important to Be a Nicer Person to Others?
Let’s do a little experiment. When you’re waiting at the traffic light for the light to change, turn and look at the person in the car next to you. Now, flash them your nicest smile and check their reaction.
Chances are pretty good that they will smile back. It may be an awkward smile, and it may be followed by a little frown as they wonder why you are smiling at them. But the instant you see that smile, you may also notice that there’s a moment where your heart glows.
You feel good about yourself, and for those precious seconds, the world is a better place because you smiled and caused a smile.
The same applies to other acts of niceness. When you become a nicer person, you are not only spreading happiness and positivity in the world, but you are also looking after your own mental well-being and developing a sense of community.
Put simply, it takes a lot less energy to be nice than it does to be upset and angry with everyone, generally being a nasty person. Being nice gives you energy, lightens your worries, and brings a greater awareness of our higher aspirations.
When you are nice to others, you balance the scales, sending out goodness and receiving energy in equal measure. Being nice means you work on your own peace.
Benefits of Kindness to the Giver and Receiver
So, aside from the exchange of positive energy thanks to a moment of being nice to someone, what are the other benefits of being kind to people?
When you are nice, you:
What about people receiving kindness? What are the benefits for them? When someone treats you with kindness, you:
Why Do Some People Find It Difficult to Be a Nicer Person?
Now, not all people are kind all the time, and for some, being kind seems to be a real challenge. Sadly, the main reason why someone isn’t kind to others is that they lack empathy. When you can’t see others, you won’t bother being nice to them.
Those who have never received genuine kindness also find it hard to show it to others. Being honest, helpful, polite, and thoughtful is not something that comes naturally to you.
If you are a selfish person who can only focus on yourself, you won’t see the value in being kind and considerate of others.
The downside of not being a nicer person is that you won’t have the support of others, nor will you enjoy any of the health and mental wellness benefits that a kind and generous person does.
41 Ways to Be a Nicer Person to Others
Kindness and a generous spirit is about more than just smiling at people at a traffic light. However, in small ways you can become a nicer person daily.
Being kind and compassionate is a choice. So here are some ways of how to be nicer to people and develop your innate kindness:
1. Turn criticism to positivity and encouragement. It’s so easy to judge people, but being tolerant and holding space for all people makes you a much nicer person.
2. Act respectfully to all people, no matter their standing. Making respect your habit will ensure you behave nicer to all people.
3. Talk less and listen more. People appreciate being seen and heard. When someone takes the time to listen to them, they feel valued, and this shows your compassion.
4. Laugh at your flaws. Being totally serious all the time is exhausting, while being able to laugh at your own mishaps makes you a more approachable person who is more pleasant to be around.
5. Make honesty your path to truthfulness. When you avoid bragging or exaggerated conversations, you show people you are authentic and real.
6. Encourage others, no matter what they are doing. Even a barista appreciates being told what a fabulous job they’re doing.
7. Accept you aren’t the fountain of wisdom, so stop giving people advice (which is a show of being opinionated) and rather wait for them to ask for your take on things.
8. Work on being present in the moment. People really love being with someone who is invested in them at that moment, so focus on being mindful and present with the person next to you.
9. Treat yourself with kindness. When you are nice to yourself, you are better able to show kindness and care for others.
10. Accept that change happens, and stop fighting the inevitable. When people have to think quickly because of a sudden change, they appreciate someone who is positive and ready to forge in a new direction. Be positive when things change.
11. Never try to be nice without feeling some connection or authentic need to be kind. If you fake it, people (and you) will know.
12. You are doing your best, so stop self-criticizing and lambasting yourself over little things. Compassion and kindness starts with you.
13. Give your time to others. Time is a powerful gift, and when you are willing to help others by giving your time, you are showering them with a blessing and real dedication from you to them.
14. Accept failures and stop thinking, “I told you so.” Whether it’s your failure or that of someone else, don’t dwell on it. Forgiving and forgetting are forms of kindness too.
15. Walk in their shoes by trying out elements from someone else’s life. Try taking the bus if your employee is often late, before you accuse them of doing so on purpose. Build empathy.
16. Lead with an attitude of gratitude. Show people around you that you live a life of gratitude. This gratitude extends to including the people in your life.
17. Build tolerance by learning about new people, cultures, and cuisine. When you know more about someone, you can act kindly to that person since you have a better understanding of them.
18. Don’t be smug. When people mess up, don’t be smug and tell them you had warned them about it. We all make mistakes. Instead, ask how you can help.
19. Don’t be nice for the sake of gain. We live in a culture of transactional friendships, but your kindness should be free. If you only act kindly to people who can “reward” you, it’s not kindness at all.
20. Kindness (like charity) starts at home. Be kinder to yourself by embracing who you are and forgiving your own sins. Love yourself. When you have kindness for yourself, you will be nicer to others.
21. Show interest in what other people care about. When someone is passionate about something you don’t know anything about, try that hobby or activity to show you care and support them.
22. Eat humble pie every day. Being humble is a virtue that’s really attractive. Check yourself: Are you bragging or lording your life over others? Stop. Cut yourself to size and practice humility.
23. Find beauty in everything around you. When you look at people with an eye for seeing the beauty in them, you will be kinder and more caring.
24. Make “thank you” more than just a quick phrase. Start really showing gratitude and appreciation for what others do. Write “thank you” emails, leave positive customer reviews, and help promote someone’s business with favorable feedback.
25. Call people by their names. It’s difficult to remember everyone’s name, but if you often see the same cashier at the bank, make a point of remembering their name and using it. It makes people feel valued.
26. Invite people into your personal space as a show of comfort. This means shaking hands, giving someone a hug to comfort them, or even a kind shoulder bump when someone needs that personal touch.
27. Share what you have. Being someone who gives freely of their time, money, skills, and assets is an endearing quality. It shows real kindness to be willing to share with others, especially if you don’t expect anything in return.
28. Apologize from the heart. When you’ve wronged someone, don’t let your own ego keep you from giving them a genuine apology. It takes a bigger man to apologize than to shout.
29. Stop teasing others. While a little good humor goes a long way, nobody likes being the butt of a joke. Stop making fun at others’ expense.
30. Be free with your compliments. When people receive a compliment, even if it’s small and seemingly insignificant, they feel so much better about their day and about themselves.
31. When you feel impatient, take a deep breath. We often get unpleasant when we are impatient, so practice patience by breathing.
32. Show you are human. We react positively to the vulnerability of others. People will instantly appreciate that you show your human side as they know you’ll appreciate their humanity and vulnerability.
33. Look for ways to help people for the joy of helping. A genuinely nice person is also a helpful person.
Far from being a people pleaser, a helpful person reacts with small acts of kindness by helping where and when they can.
34. Amputate your anger and replace it with happiness. Our own anger can consume us, and if we don’t cut it out when it serves no purpose, it spills into the rest of our lives, which makes us unpleasant people.
Let go of anger and feel happiness replace it, making you a much more agreeable person.
35. Practice good manners by not being empty-handed. When you visit someone, always take a small token of affection and respect.
A bouquet of flowers, or some homemade soup for someone who’s ill, or a freshly baked loaf and some cheese if you are invited for a meal go a long way toward kindness.
36. Learn before you express an opinion. Rudeness and being poorly informed about something can break hearts.
When you don’t know about something, ask the person you’re speaking with if they could share what they know, or read up on the topic before expressing an opinion.
37. Plan cheer-up surprises. In a world where we are under pressure and often overwhelmed, it’s such a wonderful feeling when someone surprises us with a genuinely nice act.
Take flowers to cheer up the front office secretary or work a colleague’s shift so they can go home to enjoy their new baby.
38. Talk to strangers about their lives and show compassion. When you’re in a situation where strangers gather, such as in an elevator, on the bus, or while waiting in-line at the bank, use the opportunity to make friendly conversation.
You don’t have to ask personal questions, but show you care and are interested in their lives. It’s nice to be seen.
39. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while and do a quick “I care” check-in with them. It need not be a long conversation, but ask how they are, tell them you value them, and share a little compassion—you never know when people need it.
40. Spread some unexpected joy by paying for the person behind you at the shop’s groceries. We can all use a little free-bee, and having a stranger suddenly pay for your groceries can be a huge act of kindness.
41. Practice caring-kindness with your neighbor. You can make a difference in someone’s life. Just look, see, and notice when they need something, and quietly (without a fuss) make it happen.
Try mowing your neighbor’s lawn, fix a creaking door for your apartment neighbor, or offer to watch the kids for your neighbors so they can have a much-needed date night.
Other Random Acts of Kindness that Make You a Nicer Person
The list of ideas on how to be nicer to people is endless, and here are a few more random ideas to consider.
Final Thoughts on How to Be a Nicer Person
You can make a huge difference in the world around you with a little more kindness. People treat kindness and being nicer as something that’s hard to do – it isn’t.
Simply make being kind part of your life outlook, and open your eyes to opportunities to practice generosity and compassion. You can learn how to be nicer, all it takes is the will to give.
For more on teaching kids to be kind, read our guide on 15 kindness activities for kids. After all, preaching kindness early will likely result in raising kind adults.
And if you're looking for more articles about personal growth, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 9 Simple Ways to Practice Stoicism in Your Life
- 15 Simple Ways to Feel More Empowered in Life
- 8 Intentional Living Strategies to Follow Your Values