You can’t judge when someone’s “fake nice” based on their words alone.
After all, they say almost the same things as what genuinely nice people would say (except that it comes with a teeny tiny bit of shade).
Allow me to help you spot the fake people in your life.
Here are 12 phrases that are often used by fake-nice people to come off as polite.
Just bear in mind that words are just one part of the equation. You should consider their body language, tone, the context, their personality, and your relationship, too.
Treat them as “clues” but nothing more.
1) “Well that’s interesting…”
Translation: “I think your idea/ work sucks but I can’t say it to your face, can I?”
“Interesting” comes off as a compliment if you’re dying to hear any positive feedback.
But if you examine it closer, it actually doesn’t mean much—in fact, it could even be an insult!
This is one of the favorite words of fake-nice people. They can use it as often as they like without feeling guilty for saying an outright lie.
And “interesting” is so versatile, too.
It can be said to describe most things— A dish you find too boring? Interesting. A point-of-view you don’t agree with? Interesting.
If it’s uttered by someone who you know is judgmental to everyone? Trust me—they mean it as an insult.
They might even laugh at you for being naive by thinking what they said is a compliment (when to them, it obviously isn’t).
2) “You’re truly one of a kind…”
Translation: “Honestly, I have nothing good to say. But I’ll just say something that can be said about everyone.”
Another overused polite compliment that means absolutely nothing is “you’re one of a kind”. Other variations of this phrase are: “you’re unique”, “you’re truly special”, and “I’ve never met anyone like you.”
I mean, hello. Everything and everyone is unique like a snowflake.
Fake nice people like to use this line if they want to flatter someone who they think likes to feel they’re unique—the artists, the philosophers, the inventors.
You can tell they’re just fake-nice when they don’t (because they can’t) elaborate why they think you’re unique.
Want to bust them? Ask them “Why do you think so?”. Trust me, they’d stutter.
3) “We should hang out sometime…”
Translation: “Uhmm…don’t take this invitation seriously, please. I’m just trying to be nice and friendly here for everyone to see.”
Fake nice people want to win the affection of others and they want to be SEEN as nice.
They’d make grand promises and plan dates even if you just met to show you and others they’re friendly and fun.
But of course, they won’t follow through. They might not even get your number before saying goodbye.
4) “Your apartment has character…”
Translation: “Hey, when something’s ugly, it has character, right?”
You would have preferred that they’d shut up instead of saying fluff and nonsense. But fake-nice people feel pressured to say something—anything! (well, as long as it’s nice).
So even if they actually don’t like something, they push themselves to come up with something nice to say about it.
They’ll also use this compliment to everything else they find not so appealing—”your shoes have character”, “your car has character”, etc.
Again, you can catch the fake-nice ones by forcing them to elaborate.
Ask them to explain why they think something has character. The truly fake ones would not be able to reply quickly.
5) “I like how your mind works…”
Translation: “I DON’T like how your mind works. In fact, I don’t understand you at all!”
Fake-nice people aren’t necessarily passive-aggressive (although a majority of them are because they tend to be repressed).
To those who aren’t PA, they simply just want to be polite.
And some of them say it simply to flatter you. It could be their way to make you feel like you’re smart because it benefits them for some reason (ask yourself how).
Perhaps you’re their client and they simply want you to feel good so you’ll be loyal to them. Or perhaps you’re their boyfriend’s best friend so they want you to like them.
Whatever the reason may be, “I like how your mind works” sounds fake because it’s so vague.
Want to bust them?
Ask them about their honest opinion about your thoughts. If they’re fake, they’d probably just give general statements like “Well…it’s brilliant.”
6) “OMG! You’re so brave for doing that…”
Translation: “You know what they say: it’s the effort that counts, right?”
This statement can come off as a backhanded compliment.
If deep down you know they hate your guts, then the message is clear—they think you’re a loser.
It means “wow, you actually had the guts to do it even if you’re _____ (insert a negative trait here).”
But then there are also some fake-nice people who just want to manipulate.
They love to exaggerate to make you feel good (because again, it benefits them one way or the other).
Either way, it’s dangerous to keep these kinds of people close to you. So when you hear someone say this phrase, pause and examine them closer.
7) “I appreciate your attempt…”
Translation: : “What can I say? Do you want me to THANK you for doing the bare minimum? You even mess things up!”
When you hear someone say this, they DON’T appreciate what you just did but they’re classy enough not to lash out.
It means you’ve gravely disappointed them but they have no choice but to be the “bigger person” by filtering what they say.
Let’s say you failed to submit a document on time. You reason out that you worked so hard to make sure you’ll only be DELAYED for a day (and not a week).
They’ll give you this line so you’ll get the message that no, they’re not happy…but they still remain classy in how they say it.
But if you can just read what’s on their mind, it’d say “Can’t you do one thing right, you incompetent slacker?”
For these situations, you should be glad that they’re “fake-nice”. Really.
8) “You know what they say, you do you…”
Translation: “I think you’re making a stupid decision but I won’t be the one to tell you that!”
Genuinely nice people won’t be able to shut their mouths when they think you’re doing something that’s bad for you. They’d tell you what they think in the nicest way possible.
But fake-nice people don’t want to go through that trouble!
What makes them NOT NICE is that they’d even fake a cheer to encourage you to make a stupid decision.
“You do you” can be a genuine phrase to support your freedom of choice, sure.
But it’s also a line some people say when they’ve given up on someone who’s stubborn and careless.
When you hear this phrase, pay close attention. If they’re saying it with a hint of indifference, they’re probably just saying it to be polite (because deep down, they don’t really give a damn).
9) “Now THAT’S something…”
Translation: “And that something is NOT GOOD.”
This phrase is synonymous to “that’s interesting”—they’re just words that appear like praise but they’re actually just fillers.
It’s something to say when you don’t want things to be awkward during a conversation.
They might say this when you tell them news about the project you’re working on (and they think it’s boring or bad).
They might also say this when you show them your artwork that you spent months working on (and again, they think it’s boring or bad).
The giveaway that they’re just being “nice” is that they would quickly change the topic or they’ll struggle to find the next thing to say.
10) “I can’t believe you’re still…”
Translation: “Yeah, I feel sorry for you but I actually feel good about it.”
Some fake-nice people in our lives are the way they are because they have resentment towards us.
And it will show in their “praises”.
When you still haven’t graduated from college, they’d gush and say “OMG, you’re so smart. So I really can’t believe you’re still in college after all this time.”
Or if you’re still not promoted at work, they’ll say “I can’t believe you’re still an assistant! You’re the best at what you do.”
It’s supposed to make you feel good, but it just leaves you feeling awful about yourself.
11) “I’m sure your parents are proud of you…”
Translation: “Or at least they should be…because no one else is.”
Before you say “aww, so sweet”, pause. Then go “hmmm” instead.
Again, depending on context, their personality, and your relationship with the speaker, this can actually be an insult.
If you know they’re mean and you had a bad history, I guarantee you that they’re saying this to belittle you.
But if you never had any beef, then they probably mean well, especially if they’re close to your family!
12) “You should be proud of yourself…”
Translation: “LOL, not really. But at least you had fun.”
This phrase is patronizing because they’re not really saying they’re proud of you. And neither are they saying they like what you do.
They’re just telling you this to sound nice, but it’s actually anything but.
It comes off as “What you did isn’t great but at least you did something.”
Of course, if it comes from someone who genuinely appreciates and supports you, you shouldn’t feel attacked.
They’re probably telling you that because they know you’re hard on yourself. And that they’re actually proud of you.
So, you see?
All of these lines can be uttered by someone who’s “fake nice”, a total asshole, and someone who genuinely supports you.
So yes, be alarmed when they say these phrases, but don’t accuse everyone for being “fake nice” just from these phrases alone!
You have to assess them as a whole—again, try to check their body language, their tone, as well as their overall personality.
That’s one way that YOU can be nice to people—by not judging them as “fake nice” right away.