9 signs someone’s kindness is genuine, according to psychology

Are they kind or are they buttering you up?

Sometimes, we can’t be sure of other people’s intentions toward us. Manipulators or fakers can fool us into thinking they have our best interests at heart when really they don’t.

If we want to weed out those with ulterior motives, it’s important to pay attention to the signs.

Luckily, when you dig deeper into the psychology behind true kindness, there are ways to spot it.

1) They are consistent and kind on repeat

When it comes to sniffing out genuinely kind folk from the fakes, it can take time.

That’s because genuine kindness comes from a place of authenticity. The truth is that people’s true colors have a habit of shining through eventually.

This is why it’s sensible to take our time to get to know others rather than rush in.

Genuinely kind people behave in compassionate ways on repeat. That’s how you can tell they are not putting on an act or trying to manipulate others.

Their considerate actions are consistent and can be relied upon.

That also means that their words align with their behavior. It’s one thing to talk in a kind manner, but acting with kindness demands a lot more effort.

You may need to observe someone in various situations and settings to see whether their kindness is genuine.

2) They show empathy

Whenever there is an absence of kindness, it’s usually for this reason:

Someone is blinded by either their self-interest or their own viewpoint.

They cannot put themselves in others’ shoes.

That’s why the greater your empathy, the more capacity for kindness you often have.

As pointed out by Michigan State University, the two are intertwined:

“When we are kind, we are engaging in that “tuning in phase” where we can pay attention and try to understand someone else’s experience or emotions. When we notice and understand, we are compelled to act, and that act often takes the form of kindness.”

The bottom line is, that a genuinely kind person is empathetic towards others.

They are able to understand and share people’s feelings, which helps to make them more sensitive towards them.

3) They bestow kindness to everyone equally, no matter who they are

I think this is one of the easiest ways to spot whether someone is actually kind:

Are they kind to everyone, or only certain people?

If they are lacking in empathy perhaps they’re only nice to people who they feel are similar to them, deemed as “equal” to them, or when it serves a purpose.

Someone may be kind to their boss or their best friend, but how do they treat their server at a restaurant or a homeless person they pass on the street?

Many people like to think of themselves as kind but then go on to treat certain sections of society as less than human.

Kindness researcher Daniel Fessler reminds us that kindness shouldn’t be selective:

“Each of us is kind to someone, and therefore has the potential to be kind to everyone — even those with whom we differ.”

If you can muster up kindness in the most difficult of scenarios, even when you’ve been wronged, it’s a true testament of character.

As we’ll see next.

4) They can let bygones be bygone

Forgiveness is an act of kindness towards others, but also yourself.

According to psychotherapist Ilene Strauss Cohen, both compassion and empathy are really important elements when we are trying to let go of other people’s indiscretions against us.

It’s this that helps us see past someone’s actions to view the bigger picture:

“Let me be clear when I say compassion; it doesn’t mean that what was done to you was OK or that you must let that person back in your life with open arms. It is important to look at your offender more humanely and in their context to practice forgiveness.

“Most likely, the person who hurt you was also profoundly injured at some point in their life. People who are happy and haven’t been deeply hurt themselves aren’t usually going around harming others. Looking closely enough at someone’s story, you can understand them in their context. There is an untold story behind every act of anger, rage, assault, betrayal, and attack.

“Compassion doesn’t allow destructive behaviors; it allows you to understand better why people behave the way they do, and with that understanding, you can take the actions of others less personally and be more forgiving.”

5) They’re not completely ruled by ego

Let’s be honest:

We all have an ego.

It serves a psychological function.

We cannot kill it, we can only become conscious of it. That way it’s easier to transcend it when it tries to call the shots.

It’s very difficult to be genuinely kind when you are overcome by ego.

Our egos force us into a cognitive bias that always wants to make us right and serve our interests above all others.

That’s why a dose of humility and self-awareness are important ingredients when it comes to cultivating greater kindness.

These keep us grounded so that we don’t think we’re more important or deserving than anyone else.

When we can quash our ego, we don’t kid ourselves that we are special. Instead, we can be motivated by a genuine desire to help others.

6) They want to contribute and help

20 signs youre evolving into a caring and kind hearted person 01 9 signs someone’s kindness is genuine, according to psychology

We’re essentially referring to altruism.

It’s the willingness to pitch in and help out.

As human beings, altruism is a psychologically interesting concept.

Because on the one hand, we have a vested interest in putting ourselves first and taking an “every man fo himself” approach.

Yet on the other hand, our species’ very survival has always relied on cooperation, which is probably why this seems to be a hardwired trait within us.

Either way, altruism is the practice of kindness. It is a prosocial behavior that makes someone willing to assist, without any real gains for them.

It may be anything from helping your pal move apartments to volunteering at the local soup kitchen on Christmas day.

People who behave in the most altruistic ways are usually motivated by caring about the well-being of others.

That means they do so without expecting anything in return. Let’s take a look at the next sign on our list to see why this is such an important factor when it comes to genuine kindness.

7) They give without expectation

If I loan you my car today because I need to borrow your lawnmower next week, is that an act of kindness?

Realistically, it’s just a trade.

You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

Yet inadvertent expectations are rife when it comes to acts of kindness and favors.

Even when it’s not explicitly spoken, many people give under the assumption that this should be returned at a later date.

The kindest of people give for the sake of giving. Nothing else. They do not seek recognition, praise or recompense. They don’t keep score and bring it up to hold against you in the future.

They don’t complain about how they feel taken advantage of because their kindness doesn’t come with strings attached.

(FYI, this is never a kindness problem, it’s an issue with boundaries).

People who were faking their kind act will often show signs of resentment or victimhood when they don’t feel like they’re getting enough back from it.

8) They do the right thing even when it’s hard

We may think of kindness as being an entirely soft and fluffy trait.

Perhaps that’s why it’s sometimes mistakenly seen as a weakness rather than the strength it truly is.

But we need to flip this falsehood on it’s head.

Kindness doesn’t mean always sitting on the fence. It doesn’t mean staying out of things so that you don’t upset anyone.

In short:

Kindness can (and should) still be principled.

In fact, kindness rests upon this very foundation of doing the right thing by others.

If when the going gets tough, so does someone’s kindness, then maybe it was never really there to begin with.

Having said that, it certainly doesn’t mean you have to be perfect or always get things right, as our next sign highlights.

9) They don’t pretend to be a saint

Here’s the thing:

Being kind doesn’t mean never making mistakes.

Neither does it mean you don’t ever lose your temper or exhibit perfectly normal human flaws.

You’ve probably heard the expression “butter wouldn’t melt” to describe overly demure types.

Well, whenever I meet someone like this I can’t help but wonder if they’re holding back.

Because being kind isn’t about being perfect.

Similarly, you can be kind and still speak honest truths to people.

We shouldn’t confuse kindness with destructive habits like people-pleasing or not having healthy boundaries.

If you always put everyone else in front of you no matter what and are afraid to stick up for yourself — that’s a weakness, not a kindness.  

Kindness really is its own reward as it creates greater happiness and health

It’s easy to think of kindness as being something that is bestowed on others.

There’s no denying that an act of kindness has some wonderful knock-on effects on society.

But we should also remember that being kind does so much for you too.

Research has shown that it increases self-esteem. Not only that, but it improves our connectivity with others. This helps to improve low mood and tackle loneliness.

It’s clear that for everyone concerned, kindness is a precious trait.

Picture of Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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