Lesson 5: On Kindness

My sincere hope is that you have reached this stage of the journey looking forward to this final lesson, on being kind.

Let’s do something a little different to begin this final class… let’s get your journal ready and take a kindness boomerang together. View the video below.


Now, take 5 minutes and write in your journal about 3 or more times you have forwarded a kindness done for you onto someone else.

Was this difficult for you, easy, or somewhere in between?

I would like to begin by offering my own perspective on kindness.

This may be the most controversial thing I say in this course.

 I do not like it when people are nice!

Before you cancel this class and ask for your money back, hear me out. To be nice is to be pleasing and agreeable (Merriam-Webster). The acts of being pleasing (to act as you think the other would wish you to act so that they are pleased; to give pleasure) and agreeable (to act as you think the other would act so as to be in agreement; to consent) are both actions of interpretation about what the other person wants. This sounds good on the surface but what if the person wants to eat too much sugar, or gamble their paycheck away, or something else that is not good for them. In career services, what if they want to deny the fact that they are not being paid properly for their work?

Kindness is often defined as being generous and considerate. I see this very differently than being nice. Here is an example:

I speak a lot in public, probably more than 100 times per year. If I had a salad for lunch right before a speech and had gotten a big piece of lettuce stuck in my teeth (as we all have at some point) – and you were the last person (having just met me) to see me 2 minutes before going on stage… what would you do? I have observed these occurrences many times (another common example is a zipper being unzipped in line at a check-out counter).

Many people will be nice. They would not tell me about the lettuce, thinking about how terrible it would be for me to be told this right before going on in front of so many people. In reality, they are thinking about how awkward they feel about telling me.

Now, the kind thing to do would be to tell me so that any embarrassment I might feel would be in front of one person instead of 1000. Being nice is most often about how we feel about a situation, not about the feelings of the other. Kindness is acting with great care for the other.

Dr. Vicki Whiting, a leadership scholar, identifies Kindness as a Competitive Advantage in the TEDx Talk below by talking about career phenomena and business factors. View her video below. Length 17:12.


Dr. Whiting identifies kindness as the integrating factor across many variables for workplace happiness including gratitude, humility, empathy, and compassion. Now Dr. Whiting doesn’t get to dig into all of the variables that would recommend kindness therefore read this article that digs a bit deeper into the science.  

My hope is that you are feeling awash in kindness as you prepare for the final dialogue video in this course. View the video below.


Now that you have finished with Class 5, you are finished with the course! Answer questions 13-15 on your worksheet, mark this section complete and move on to the last section, Congratulations and Conclusion.