Is kindness or honesty more important?


Both kindness and honesty are idealistic traits. Most people consider themselves as possessing either one or both.  The question is: is one a more significant trait than the other?  I’ve heard this question asked several times, so I thought I would share my personal thoughts on the matter.

There is a fine line between what being kind and being honest is.  Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate towards others.  Honesty, on the other hand, is the quality of simply being truthful.  I see the two as so close to the line that many are blinded by the fact that they aren’t being kind, or aren’t being honest, when they believe they are. 

I put this into perspective by imagining how I would want my friends to speak to me.  Would I like it if my friends blatantly stated that my hair looked terrible that day? At least they’re being honest.  Would I like it if they praised me for the project I did, saying it was they’re favorite out of all the rest, then overhear them saying the same thing to another student? At least they were kind.  It is certainly possible to be kind without being honest, and to be honest without being kind. Of course, being honest does not necessarily mean being rude. And being kind doesn’t necessarily mean being fake.  These are only scenarios to identify the difference.

I asked a few peers of mine what their thoughts were.  About ⅔ said they thought being kind was more important, and roughly ⅓ said they thought being honest was.  Personally, however, I think having both qualities, together, is the best option. As I’m sure most of our parents said at least once to us: “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  I would also like to phrase it as “if you can’t say anything honest, don’t say anything at all.” I truly think this phrase is applicable to everyday life, and we should practice this.  I think if we don’t have anything kind to say to someone, that isn’t honest, then we shouldn’t respond with how we would like to. 

I do believe that being kind and being honest, separately, are good qualities of character.  However, I do think that we should strive to have both in our lives.  I know many people, my faulted self included, at times, prioritize one over the other, when I don’t think we should.  I think we should strive to better ourselves by being kind and honest, rather than just one or the other.