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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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        Brad Johnson

        Top 5 Kindle Author | Author of 10 Books

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        Last Updated on July 18, 2019

        What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

        What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

        Some people just seem to float through life with a relentless sense of happiness – through the toughest of times, they’re unfazed and aloof, stopping to smell the roses and drinking out of a glass half full.

        They may not have much to be happy about, but the simplicity behind that fact itself may make them happy.

        It’s all a matter of perspective, conscious effort and self-awareness. Listed below are a number of reasons why some people are always happy.

        1. They Manage Their Expectations

        They’re not crushed when they don’t get what they want – or misled into expecting to get the most out of every situation. They approach every situation pragmatically, hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst.

        2. They Don’t Set Unrealistic Standards

        Similar to the last point, they don’t live their lives in a constant pursuit towards impossible visions of perfection, only to always find themselves falling short of what they want.

        3. They Don’t Take Anything for Granted

        Happiness rests with feeling fulfilled – those who fail to stop and appreciate what they have every now and again will never experience true fulfillment.

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        4. They’re Not Materialistic

        There are arguing viewpoints on whether or not money can really buy happiness; if it can, then we know from experience that we can never be satisfied because there will always be something newer or better that we want. Who has ever had enough money?

        5. They Don’t Dwell

        They don’t sweat the small things or waste time worrying about things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. They don’t let negative thoughts latch onto them and drain them or distract them. Life’s too short to worry.

        6. They Care About Themselves First

        They’re independent, care for themselves and understand that they must put their needs first in order to accommodate the needs of others.

        They indulge, aim to get what they want, make time for themselves and are extremely self-reliant.

        7. They Enjoy the Little Things

        They stop to smell the roses. They’re accustomed to find serenity when it’s available, to welcome entertainment or a stimulating discussion with a stranger when it crosses their path. They don’t overlook the small things in life that can be just as important.

        8. They Can Adapt

        They’re not afraid of change and they work to make the most out of new circumstances, good or bad. They thrive under pressure, are not overwhelmed easily and always embrace a change of pace.

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        9. They Experiment

        They try new things, experience new flavors and never shy away from something they have yet to experience. They never order twice from the same menu.

        10. They Take Their Time

        They don’t unnecessarily rush through life. They work on their own schedule to the extent that they can and maneuver through life at their own relaxing pace.

        11. They Employ Different Perspectives

        They’re not stuck in one perspective; a loss can result in a new opportunity, hitting rock bottom can mean that there’s no where to go but up.

        12. They Seek to Learn

        Their constant pursuit of knowledge keeps them inspired and interested in life. They cherish information and are on a life-long quest to learn as much as they can.

        13. They Always Have a Plan

        They don’t find themselves drifting without purpose. When something doesn’t go as planned, they have a plan for every letter in the alphabet to fall back on.

        14. They Give Respect to Get It

        They are respectful and, in turn, are seen as respectable; the respect they exude earns them the respect they deserve.

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        15. They Consider Every Opportunity

        They always have their eyes open for a new road, a new avenue worth exploring. They know how to recognize opportune moments and pounce on them to make the most of every situation. Success is inevitable for them.

        16. They Always Seek to Improve

        Perpetual self-improvement is the key towards their ongoing thirst for success. Whatever it is they do, they take pride in getting better and better, from social interactions to mundane tasks. Their pursuit at being the best eventually materializes.

        17. They Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

        They’re not ones to get offended easily over-analyze or complicate matters. They laugh at their own faults and misfortunes.

        18. They Live in the Moment

        They don’t live for tomorrow or dwell on what may have happened yesterday. Every day is a new opportunity, a new chapter. They live in the now, and in doing so, get the most out of every moment.

        You can learn how to do so too: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

        19. They Say Yes

        Much more often than they say no. They don’t have to be badgered to go out, don’t shy away from new opportunities or anything that may seem inconvenient.

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        20. They’re Self-Aware

        Most important, they’re wholly aware of themselves. They self-reflect and are conscious of their states of mind. If somethings bothering them, they fix it.

        We’re all susceptible to feeling down every now and again, but we are all equipped with the necessary solutions that just have to be discovered.

        Lack of confidence, inability to feel fulfilled, and susceptibility to stress are all matters that can be controlled through the way we handle our lives and perceive our circumstances.

        Learn about How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life.

        Final Thoughts

        The main philosophy employed by the happiest includes the idea that life’s simply too short: life’s too short to let things get you down, to take things for granted, to pursue absolute and unrealistic perfection.

        For some, employing these characteristics is a second nature – they do it without knowing. For others, a conscious effort must be put forth every now and again. Self-Awareness is key.

        More About Happiness

        Featured photo credit: Charles Postiaux via unsplash.com

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