Kindness vs. Compassion

Difference between Kindness and Compassion

Due to the fact that both of them refer to being nice, kindness and compassion are often confused with each other and assumed to be similar in meaning. This, however, is not true. The two words are very much different despite some similarities.

What is Kindness?

Kindness is all about gentle nature. It is always accompanied by affection and entails being friendly and generous to all living things. A person that is kind shows concern, affection, and consideration to others. This person, who has the nature of a kind disposition, is called a kind-hearted person.

What is Compassion?

Compassion generally means ‘sympathy’ or ‘pity’. It is always accompanied by mercy, which is the quality that is responsible for inclining people to help those in need. Being merciful arises from the natural pity that a person feels when he or she sees someone in need. This means that a compassionate person also shows mercy towards the weak.

The difference between the two can better be explained by an example. Judges reduce the punishment of an accused on compassionate grounds rather than on kind grounds. Kindness entails being affectionate while compassion entails being merciful. We can therefore say that judges reduce punishment because they feel mercy for the accused, not because they are feeling affectionate.

A brief summary

  • Kindness is all about gentle nature while comp:assion is all about sympathy or pity
  • Kindness is always accompanied by affection while compassion is always accompanied by mercy
  • Kindness is extended to all living things while compassion is not


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  • James

    I don’t think I agree that Compassion has an element of pity. I have always thought of pity as it am up here looking down and feeling bad for the other person. I would rather consider an attribute of Compassion to be empathy – putting myself in the shoes of the other person to think and feel as they do.

  • jaun

    james i agree with you i did a study on this and Compassion is a cohort of empathy