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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 June 13, 2019

        How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

        How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

        Think you have a boring life?

        The definition of boring is dull or not interesting. Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing and living the same life for too long, or maybe your daily routine is limiting your growth and happiness. Whatever your reason is, the following list of 20 things can definitely make any day more interesting. Some of them are silly, while some are more meaningful, so hopefully just reading the list makes your life less boring and sparks your creativity.

        Let’s dive in the list to quit your boring life and start living an interesting (and meaning) one!

        1. Channel Your 7-Year-Old Self

        What would he or she want to do right now? Color? Paint? Run around outside? Play dress up? Eat with your hands? Play that instrument hiding in the back of your closet that you haven’t touched in years?

        Just because you’re a grown up doesn’t mean any of this stuff will be less enjoyable than you remember it. Give yourself permission to play.

        2. Go Play with Kids

        Speaking of little kids, if you have your own or access to any (in a non-creepy way, like they’re your niece or your best friend’s kid, you get the idea) go play with them!

        They didn’t create an entire show called Kids Say The Darndest Things because kids aren’t hilarious. They also keep things so simple, and we can really stand to be reminded of this and stop allowing ourselves to get bogged down in boring details.

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        3. Order a Hot Dog

        While you’re eating it, Google: “What’s in a hot dog?” You decide whether or not you want to finish it.

        4. For the Ladies: Wear Your Sexiest Lingerie Under Your Work Clothes

        Your “little secret” will leave you feeling anything but boring all day!

        5. Play Cell Phone Roulette

        You’ll need at least one buddy for this. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, stop on a random one and call the person.

        You could spark an incredible catch up session or be incredibly awkward. Neither are boring.

        6. Fill out a Pack of Thank-You Cards

        Give them to random people who probably don’t get thanked too often for doing what they do ever day.

        Ideas: police officers, librarians, servers, baristas, cab drivers, sanitation workers, teachers, people behind any check out counter, receptionists, your friends, the guy at the falafel stand, etc.

        7. Sign up for a Class in Something You’ve “Always Wanted to Do”, or Something That Makes You Really Uncomfortable

        Ideas: pole dancing, salsa lessons, improv, pottery, cooking, knitting (yup, there are classes for this, too!), karate, boxing, something techy like the workshops they run in Apple stores, get Rosetta Stone and learn that language you’ve always wanted to speak, etc.

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        What’s good about joining an interest class is that you will also meet new people!

        8. Interview Your Grandparents About Their Lives

        You can bet they’ve had some crazy experiences you probably never knew about.

        9. Get up on Stage at an Open Mic Night

        Whether you’re funny or not, get up on stage and just talk funny. And if you’re not, memorize a few of your favorite jokes and tell those!

        10. Do Something for Someone Else That You Wish Someone Would Do for You

        We all have a few ideas on this list. I promise you will feel amazing after and anything but bored.

        11. Start a DIY Project in Your Home

        It doesn’t have to be super complicated. If you need ideas, there’re plenty on Pinterest. Or you can also check out these 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of.

        12. Plan a Weekend Trip or an All-Out Vacation

        This will give you something to look forward to.

        Even if you don’t have the time or money to go on a vacation, plan for a staycation, which is same fun and relaxing!

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        13. People Watch

        Find a bench in a crowded area (centers of transportation like airports, bus stops and train stations are great for this!) and just observe.

        People are infinitely interesting.

        14. Eat Something You’ve Never Eaten Before

        Bonus points if it’s a random fruit or veggie.

        15. Dance

        You can get your friends together for a night on the town or just pull up a video on YouTube and bust a move from your own living room.

        If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even dance in public and get other people involved.

        16. Go to YOUTUBE and Search “Funny Pets” or “Funny Babies”

        This is also a great quickie ab workout as you will be laughing hysterically.

        17. Pick up a Book and Start Reading

        Check out the NY Times Best Sellers lists and grab a new book you can get lost in.

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        18. Step Away from the Computer and Go Get Some Time with People You Care About in Real Life

        Facebook stalking doesn’t count as real social interaction. You can even share this post with your friends and vote on which one you’d like to do together!

        19. Check out a Museum You’ve Never Been to Before

        OK, depending on your interests, this one might actually be boring. If you love learning, art or different cultures though, this one is for you!

        20. Write a List of Things You Desire and Truly Want

        This is a great way to help you figure out the real reason why you’re feeling bored about your life. Maybe you haven’t really done things that you truly enjoy? Maybe what you’ve wanted to do all the time has been left behind?

        Think about the list of things you really want to do, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing these things (yet). Then start taking your first step to make what you want happen.

        Now go make your life interesting and live your dream life!

        More About Living a Fulfilling Life

        Featured photo credit: Kev Costello via unsplash.com

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