10 phrases only fake nice people use, according to psychology

There’s a stark contrast between being genuinely nice and merely pretending to be.

This distinction often boils down to sincerity. Fake niceness is all about appearing kind and considerate, while hiding true feelings or intentions.

Truly nice people, however, are authentic in their actions, intentions, and words.

But fear not, psychology gives us some insight into the telltale phrases often used by those just putting on a show.

Let’s dive in. 

1) “I’m just being honest…”

In the realm of social interaction, sincerity is highly valued. Yet, there are those who use the guise of honesty as a mask for rudeness or manipulation.

According to psychology, a common trait amongst individuals who feign niceness is their tendency to preface harsh or critical comments with phrases like “I’m just being honest” or “Just telling it like it is”.

While it’s important to be truthful in our interactions, there’s a fine line between honesty and tactlessness that fake nice people often cross under the pretext of candor.

In essence, this phrase becomes a convenient shield, protecting them from the backlash of their negative comments.

When you hear “I’m just being honest”, watch out. It could be a sign that you’re dealing with someone who’s not as nice as they appear to be. But remember, context and tone matter too.

2) “No offense, but…”

We’ve all come across this phrase, haven’t we? In my own experience, it’s often been a red flag indicating that an offensive comment is about to be served up, neatly wrapped in a faux-polite package.

I remember a former colleague who had mastered the art of using this phrase. She’d say things like, “No offense, but I think your ideas in the meeting were too idealistic,” or “No offense, but you really should change your dressing style.”

Each time she used this phrase, it felt like a slap with a velvet glove. The “no offense” preface was her way of sugarcoating criticism or unkind comments, making them appear as friendly advice or constructive feedback.

In reality, this phrase is often used by fake nice people as an excuse to say something hurtful or offensive without facing the consequences. It’s their way of maintaining the illusion of niceness while subtly undermining others. So beware of those who frequently use this phrase. They might not be as friendly as they want you to believe.

3) “I hate drama…”

Here’s a paradoxical phrase often used by people who are not as nice as they pretend to be: “I hate drama”. Ironically, studies have shown that those who loudly proclaim their dislike for drama are often the ones creating it.

This phrase is a classic tool used by manipulative individuals to position themselves as innocent bystanders in conflicts, even when they may be the source. By declaring their aversion to drama, they successfully divert attention away from their role in instigating it.

It’s almost a preemptive strike, a way of deflecting blame before anyone even thinks to point a finger at them.

If you frequently hear someone say “I hate drama,” you may want to examine their actions closely before taking their words at face value.

4) “I’m not one to gossip, but…”

When it comes to social interactions, this phrase is a telltale sign of individuals who are not genuinely nice.

People who use “I’m not one to gossip, but…” often follow it up with a juicy piece of rumor or unverified information. By declaring their supposed aversion to gossip first, they create an illusion of themselves as upstanding individuals reluctantly sharing information for the greater good.

However, this is usually far from the truth. In many cases, these individuals are the ones most likely to spread rumors and engage in damaging talk about others. This phrase acts as a disclaimer, absolving them from the guilt associated with gossiping.

When you hear someone say, “I’m not one to gossip, but…”, it might be a wise move to question their sincerity.

5) “Just kidding!”

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a hurtful comment, only for the person to quickly follow up with a “Just kidding!”? It’s a classic move used by people who aren’t as nice as they appear to be.

These individuals use humor as a cover for their mean-spirited or critical comments. If the joke doesn’t land or if the person on the receiving end seems hurt, they quickly backtrack with a “Just kidding!” to avoid any responsibility for their words.

This tactic allows them to express their true feelings under the guise of humor, all while maintaining their friendly facade.

If someone frequently hurts your feelings and then tries to laugh it off, they might not be as nice as they initially seem.

6) “Bless your heart…”

This phrase, particularly common in southern states of the United States, has a reputation of being a veiled insult. At face value, it seems like a kind expression of sympathy or endearment. However, its meaning can drastically change depending on the context and tone.

For instance, when someone says “Bless your heart” after a person shares a struggle or difficulty, it could genuinely mean “I sympathize with you.” However, when used sarcastically or dismissively, it’s often a sugarcoated way to express disbelief or disdain.

It’s another classic example of how fake nice people use seemingly kind words to camouflage their less-than-kind intentions. 

When you hear “Bless your heart”, pause for a moment and consider the context before you accept it as a compliment.

7) “I was just trying to help…”

This phrase often surfaces in situations where unsolicited advice or unwelcome actions have caused discomfort or inconvenience. I’ve dealt with this myself when someone close to me would offer advice or intervene in personal matters without being asked.

When I expressed my discomfort about their interference, it was met with a defensive “I was just trying to help”. This phrase can be a way for fake nice people to avoid accountability for overstepping boundaries. It portrays them as well-intentioned helpers, alleviating any blame while shifting the focus onto the person who rejected their ‘help’.

While it’s true that sometimes people may misjudge a situation and unintentionally cause distress, frequent use of this phrase can be a sign that someone is not as nice as they claim to be.

8) “I don’t want to sound rude, but…”

Here’s a phrase that, ironically, usually precedes a rude comment. People who often use “I don’t want to sound rude, but…” are typically about to say something that they know is impolite or offensive.

This declaration serves as a sort of disclaimer, a way to soften the blow of whatever unkind thing they’re about to say. They hope that by acknowledging the potential rudeness upfront, they can somehow make their comment more acceptable.

However, the truth is that pointing out their rudeness doesn’t negate the impact of their words. In fact, it often makes the person on the receiving end brace for something unpleasant. So if someone frequently uses this phrase, it might be a sign that their niceness is not all it appears to be.

9) “But that’s just my opinion…”

This is another phrase that fake nice people use to frame their potentially hurtful or controversial comments as harmless personal views. By adding “But that’s just my opinion…” at the end of a statement, they attempt to make their remarks seem less authoritative and open to debate.

In reality, however, it’s often a way to express criticism or judgement without having to take full responsibility for the impact of their words. It gives them an easy escape route if their comment is challenged or met with disapproval.

Remember, just because someone frames something as their opinion, it doesn’t make it any less hurtful or offensive. So if you notice someone frequently using this phrase to mask their unkind comments, question whether their niceness is genuine.

10) “Don’t take this personally…”

This phrase is perhaps the most telling sign of a person pretending to be nice. It’s often used as a precursor to a personal attack or harsh criticism.

People who use “Don’t take this personally…” are usually about to say something that is, indeed, personal. The phrase attempts to create a safe distance between them and the potential fallout of their forthcoming comment.

However, it’s important to remember that telling someone not to take something personally doesn’t make the comment less personal or hurtful. It’s just another way for fake nice people to avoid responsibility for their words and actions. So when you hear “Don’t take this personally…”, brace yourself. It’s likely a sign that you’re dealing with a person who isn’t as nice as they want you to believe.

Unmasking the facade

Navigating the complexities of human interaction can often feel like walking through a maze. Recognizing genuine niceness from a well-crafted facade is not always straightforward. It’s a delicate dance, requiring keen observation and understanding.

The phrases we’ve discussed here offer some insight into how people mask their true intentions under the veil of niceness. But remember, language is just one piece of the puzzle. Body language, tone of voice, and actions all play a pivotal role in revealing one’s true character.

So, as you interact with others, pay attention to these subtle cues. They might just help you see beyond the polite smiles and kind words to the person underneath.

After all, as Maya Angelou wisely said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” This holds true even when what they show contradicts their seemingly nice words.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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