8 signs someone is a genuinely kind person (and not just ‘nice’)

You meet tons of nice people in your daily life. Everyone from your neighbor to your dentist to the bus driver just seems so nice.

But do you ever wonder who’s genuine and who’s faking it?

A lot of people just put on a fake front, but deep down they’re not as great as they seem.

Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way. But over time, I realized that there are 8 signs that someone is a genuinely kind person and not just “nice”.

Watching out for these signs now helps me determine who I can trust and befriend.

Let’s see what they are, so you can do the same. 

1) They listen actively

It’s one thing to learn “nice” things to say like “I hope you’re doing well” or “I wish you all the best”. 

It practically doesn’t take any effort at all. Anyone can do it, even if they’re just trying to be nice. 

But you know what only really kind people do?

Active listening. This is something that now takes real time, effort, and energy. You have to actually put your own priorities aside and focus your entire attention on another person for a while.

It’s not just being quiet and nodding your head absent-mindedly. It’s taking an interest in the other person’s feelings, mirroring back to them what you hear, and making them feel heard.

And that’s one thing that people who fake being nice aren’t usually willing to do. 

2) They express heartfelt gratitude

Does the nice person you know just give superficial compliments like “Great job!” or “Nice outfit!”

Or, do they take the time to express deep gratitude to you for something specific?

If it’s the second one, it’s a sign they’re a genuinely kind person

That’s the kind of comment that a person can only make when they have taken the time to really think about what you have done and the impact it has on them. 

They took the time to notice what exactly you did, the effort it took, and how precisely it helped them.

A colleague of mine is especially great at doing this. He doesn’t just tell people “Nice presentation” or “Thanks for your help!”

He says something truly thoughtful like “I really appreciated how much detail you gave in your presentation, and how clearly you explained it all. It made it so easy to understand, and I appreciate all the time you took to do that.”

3) They forgive mistakes

Another hallmark of a genuinely kind person is an exceptional ability to forgive.

These people understand that everyone makes mistakes and that holding grudges does more harm than good. 

And so, they are quick to accept sincere apologies and move past the incident without resentment.

For example, I remember an occasion when I accidentally spilled coffee on a friend’s brand new shirt. I was mortified and instantly apologetic, expecting an outburst or at least visible annoyance. 

But she simply smiled, shrugged it off, and said, “Don’t worry, accidents happen. It’s just a shirt.” Her reaction surprised me, and it was then I realized her kindness was deeply genuine.

This attitude of genuine forgiveness is a rare quality, and a true gem. It makes relationships stronger and life more peaceful. 

If you know a person like this, make sure to treat them well, because they’ll be an amazing addition to your life!

4) They never gossip

Kind people aren’t just defined by the habits they practice. It’s also the things they avoid — and gossip is definitely one of them. 

These individuals prefer to focus on positive, uplifting discussions, and personal growth rather than spreading unkind words about someone who isn’t even present to defend themselves.

And unfortunately, I had a bitter experience that taught me this firsthand. 

I had a childhood friend who I was close with for over two decades. She had a knack for sharing “interesting news” about others.

Looking back, that should have been a warning sign in and of itself, but I had such a longstanding relationship with her that I never doubted her, and believed that she would always stand by my side too.

Until one day, I heard a secret I had told her in confidence whispered back to me from a different source. 

I can’t even describe the betrayal and pain I felt. And it opened my eyes up to the type of person this friend really was.

Unfortunately, it’s not a genuinely kind one

5) They don’t offer to help, they just do it

There are things people often say for the sake of looking nice, but they don’t really mean it.

“Do you need some help?” is more often than not one of them.

The other day, I was walking through a grocery parking lot and a woman’s paper bags broke, spilling the contents on the ground. 

Someone saw and came up to her asking, “Would you like some help?” Of course, the woman did what most people do and politely declined with a “I’m fine, thank you.”

A few seconds later, another gentleman came up, pulled a plastic bag out of his pocket, and started picking up the food items and putting them into the bag for the woman.

He didn’t ask her if she needed help, because the answer was obvious — and his purpose wasn’t to look helpful, but to actually be helpful. So he didn’t give her the chance to politely say no. 

I could see the genuine appreciation in the woman’s eyes, and also the genuine joy the young man had from helping another human. 

6) They are consistent

Genuine kindness isn’t a sporadic act. True kindness is shown consistently – it’s not just an on-and-off switch that gets activated for some and deactivated for others. 

It’s about being kind in every interaction, every day, no matter who’s on the receiving end. Or even when nobody’s watching.

Think about that barista at your local café, who always greets everyone with a warm smile, even when she’s having a bad day. She treats every human with respect, and sees there’s no point in taking out her anger on them when they have nothing to do with it.

Or think about a businessman who’s nice to everyone at his job, from the top CEO to the janitor. 

These people aren’t kind only when they stand to benefit from it. Kindness is just a part of their character

Spotting this sign can take time, but it’s worth paying attention to. Because in the end, genuine kindness isn’t just an act, it’s a way of life.

7) They are honest, even when it hurts

A truly kind person values honesty and transparency. They will tell you what you need to hear, even if it might hurt a little. 

This is because they understand that real kindness means wanting the best for others, and sometimes that includes offering a dose of reality, wrapped up in tact and compassion.

My friend Brian’s experience at his previous job comes to mind here. He was going for a promotion that he was sure he deserved, and a colleague he was on great terms with was on the panel making the decision.

When he didn’t get the promotion, he was crushed. 

Instead of just consoling him with comforting words, his colleague sat him down and gave him a candid evaluation of his skills. He pointed out where Brian excelled, but also where he lacked.

Initially, those words stung and Brian felt pretty betrayed. But in the following months, I watched him transform as he took the feedback to heart and worked hard on his weak spots.

The following year, he not only got the promotion, but he was actually ready to do a great job at it. 

His colleague’s feedback might seem unkind at first, but what he did was allow Brian to really grow professionally and get genuine success. That’s a surefire sign that he truly cared about Brian’s growth and well-being — and there’s few things that are kinder than that. 

8) They celebrate other people’s successes

Finally, a genuinely kind person finds joy in the success of others

This trait surpasses the mere practice of saying “congratulations”. It involves sincerely appreciating and celebrating the achievements of others without a shred of jealousy or bitterness.

Imagine a co-worker who not only celebrates your promotion but also uses their own resources to organize a surprise party in your honor. 

Or a friend who, instead of comparing their relationship to yours, is genuinely happy for you that you found happiness.

The reality is, celebrating the success of others can sometimes be difficult, particularly when we feel left behind.

But genuine kindness pushes through these feelings, encouraging us to lift others up and revel in their accomplishments.

Surround yourself with kind people

Now you know the 8 signs that set apart genuinely kind people from those who are just “nice”, or try to act like it.

With these signs, you’ll be able to more easily tell who is worth spending your time on, and maybe doesn’t belong in your life.

And of course, you can use this as inspiration on your own personal development journey, to become an even kinder individual yourself.

After all, we are the sum of the people we surround ourselves with!

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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