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Science Says You Need To Be Wary Of Overly Polite People, Here’s Why

Science Says You Need To Be Wary Of Overly Polite People, Here’s Why

Just met someone at a party and they’re a little too nice to you already? Out at a concert or sporting event and someone is being overly polite? You can really get thrown off by someone who is kissing up to you out of the blue. Do they like you that much? Are they trying to tell you something you’re unaware of? Are they trying to get something from you? All of these questions and more can race through your head when you meet someone who is overly polite.

Research that was released in December 2015 shows you might be best taking these people’s behavior with a grain of salt at first. Social politeness and common courtesies are one thing, but if an individual is buttering you up out of nowhere, this could be an unwelcome sign.

The Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics in Beijing (AMACL) just released their findings that those who are “excessively polite” are considerably more likely to betray peers or comrades than those who are not effusively polite. The researchers at AMACL engaged in an in-depth study of Diplomacy, a strategy-oriented game in which players simulate pre-WWI Europe.

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Diving Into Diplomacy

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    Instead of having dice, decks of cards or other familiar formalities of gaming, the players rely solely on their communication and social manipulation skills. The game is aptly titled, therefore, as forming alliances diplomatically becomes the true essence of the game. The researchers then attempted to obtain clues of oncoming action based on the dialogues between players.

    As it turned out, there emerged rock-solid examples of betrayal that AMACL observed in their report. Perhaps most shockingly, the scientists discovered one of the most predictable signs of imminent backstabbing is sudden changes in conversational tone. Conversations would morph from average or uneventful to contain “patently evident positive sentiment, structured discourse and overt politeness”.

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    Overly Polite, Sinister Forces

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      In one particularly elucidating conversation, Germany and Austria were talking about how to combine forces to eliminate certain threats. Austria readily agreed to Germany’s suggestion to move armed forces east, but then Austria swiftly invaded Germany, throwing their entire conversation out the window and negating trust.

      In conjunction with this report, Science News commented that clearly, playing nice and being overly polite is a great war strategy. For those who are not in-the-know and generally unsuspecting, it becomes effective to put on a bright face for everyone and then strike where you desire when people least expect it.

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      As it turns out, even a computer used this information to accurately predict betrayal 57 percent of the time. This is a surprisingly high rate, especially considering that the only cues to be used are linguistic in nature.

      Applying This To The Real World

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        As telling and intriguing as this study is, there hasn’t been enough reliable data collected to see these concepts work in the real world. Being overly polite in a game of Diplomacy might only carry benefit as far as recreational, play-oriented boundaries extend. In order to manifest truly viable data to be used in real-life situations, there would have to be a deeper, closer look at regular humans going about their day.

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        According to Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, a computer scientist at Cornell University, while this study yields valuable information, it should not be used as a sole basis for making decisions about other people. His standpoint is that watching the overall balance of language and behavior in a relationship between two people is a stronger sign of future behavior. Judging if someone’s being overly polite does have its place in making rational judgments for yourself, but it should be taken within the context of the larger relationship.

        photo credit: Pinterest

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        Last Updated on August 16, 2018

        10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

        10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

        The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

        In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

        Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success:

        1. Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone

        What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

        Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

        2. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome

        Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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        How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

        Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks?

        Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

        3. Get comfortable with discomfort

        One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

        Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

        4. See failure as a teacher

        Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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        Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

        Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

        10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

        5. Take baby steps

        Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

        Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

        Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

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        The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

        6. Hang out with risk takers

        There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. (Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful).

        Almost inevitably, their influence will start have an effect on your behavior.

        7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses

        Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

        Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

        8. Identify how stepping out will benefit you

        What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

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        9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

        Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

        If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

        10. Focus on the fun

        Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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