There’s a time and place for being polite.
We’d all prefer that to someone being rude to our face, after all!
But there are actually a number of extremely polite phrases that are really rude.
Here’s a look…
1) “Bless your heart”
This is a very popular phrase especially in the southern United States.
It sounds pretty great, right?
But “bless your heart” is often used with sarcastic intent to mean that somebody is a clueless idiot.
2) “Thanks for telling me your concerns”
This is the kind of corporate speak we all hate with a passion.
It’s very polite, but it’s so inherently passive-aggressive.
Why would somebody be “thankful” for hearing about our frustration over something?
3) “Like I said previously…”
When you hear this it’s the equivalent of being told to shut up.
Somebody is telling you that they are tired of repeating themselves or believe you are thick or deliberately ignoring them.
If so, why not just say it? Fake politeness is the worst.
4) “We’ll get right on that”
The last time somebody told me “we’ll get right on that” they were www.booking.com and they did not get right on that.
In fact they took a week to “get on that” and they directly lied about what they would do to recompense me for a booking they got wrong.
When somebody tells you this kind of polite nonsense you can safely assume they don’t mean a word they’re saying.
5) “I’m so sorry to hear about your experience”
My booking friend also told me this as well.
I’m sure he was genuinely very sorry. I’m sure he lost sleep over it and cried into his pillow.
Come on. This is the type of polite nonsense that nobody actually believes.
If they do believe it then they should find a less pretentious way of saying it.
6) “I’m sorry you feel that way”
This is on a related note of the same thing.
When somebody says they are “sorry” you feel a certain way they generally mean that they think you are not behaving reasonably.
Being sorry that somebody feels a certain way is kind of passive-aggressive.
How they feel is up to them.
If you’re responsible for them feeling bad then be sorry about what you did not how they feel.
7) “Well, that’s certainly one way to look at it…”
This is what’s said many times to tell somebody they are full of shit.
But instead of saying that you use this highly polite and highly disingenuous phrase.
Try delivering the lines above without any hint of sarcasm or derision in your voice. You can’t.
8) “By any chance could you…”
When making a request, it’s usually best to check if somebody is available.
But using the above statement is often quite passive-aggressive.
It indicates a level of real urgency while still pretending to give an option to the person being asked.
In other words it puts a lot of pressure on somebody and makes them feel like a tool if they say no.
9) “Is there any way you could…”
This is another version of the “any chance” charade.
You’re getting up from watching a TV show to go to the bathroom and your husband asks you “is there any way you could wash the dishes while you’re up? My back is killing me.”
I mean, yeah, there’s obviously a way for that to happen.
But why should it be you, and why now?
10) “I took the liberty of…”
When you hear this being said it usually means something that shouldn’t have been done has been done.
“Hi, Jim, I took the liberty of signing you up for the cross-cultural fingerpainting classes at the remedial education center.”
Don’t take the liberty! Please!
11) “Thanks for your contribution”
This is a very polite thing to say.
But the connotation is usually that somebody is being rejected or dismissed in some way.
This may mean their application to a project or job is being turned down, or it can even be a way to fire somebody.
“Thanks for all your time at the company, Jim, and thanks for your contribution. All the best in the future.”
12) “That’s cultural appropriation”
Cultural appropriation is definitely a real thing, but it could also be considered cultural sharing.
All cultures mix and styles and customs change.
When somebody notes that something is cultural appropriation they are generally trying to feel morally superior or shame somebody.
They can stuff it.
13) “Would you like me to tell you more about my religious beliefs and how they can save you?”
This is a very polite question, but it has a lot of pressure behind it.
If somebody claims only their beliefs can save you in some way, you sound like an idiot or ungrateful for turning it down.
Door to door missionaries are the typical proponents of this kind of phrase, but it’s also delivered often by the ultra woke and political people in different versions as well.
“Oh don’t you know about the X movement for justice and how it changed everything? You need to educate yourself.”
14) “It sounds like you are very lost in life right now”
This is one of those phrases that’s very polite and considerate on the surface.
But it’s also very loaded.
It creates a black and white paradigm in which you are the lost one and whoever is speaking to you is, by definition at least less lost than you.
The result? Disempowerment, guilt, reinforcement of the idea that it’s you who has some unique problem or disadvantage to everyone else.
Maybe you really are lost in life right now!
But when people deliver this kind of line in a kindly voice it tends to create resistance for the very reason of how condescending it sounds.
15) “I was once where you are”
This is in the same vein as 14. It’s all about signaling superiority, even if unintentionally.
It indicates that whoever’s speaking is no longer where you are and that they are somewhere better or more preferable to where you are.
Sure it sounds compassionate.
But at the same time there are some majorly judgmental vibes going on with this kind of a statement.
16) “You get what you give”
People who believe in the Law of Attraction and other similar philosophies may drop this kind of statement now and then.
It sounds deep and kind of wise, but if you look below the surface it’s judgmental, shallow horseshit.
You most certainly do not get what you give, at least not in any literal sense.
Pretending this is not the case is both ignorant and judgmental.
When somebody says a thought-terminating cliche like this they are making it clear that they don’t give a hoot about what’s true.
17) “How do you feel about that?”
Asking somebody how they feel is a very polite thing to do.
All too often, sadly, it can be very rude.
Psychologists ask this all the time and it can become almost a cliche.
“My best friend died and I lost my job. I’m not sure what to do next.”
“OK, how do you feel about that?”
Uh, how about the fact that you literally said you don’t know what to do next, rather than focusing on how you feel?
18) “With all due respect”
Whenever this line is delivered it is annoying.
First of all what respect is ever “due?”
Respect is given, not owed.
Secondly, we all know that people say this when they disagree with you and don’t respect you.
So why say what you don’t mean? Garbage.
19) “I like you as a friend”
This is your standard friendzone line, often delivered by women to men but also sometimes the other way around.
Its variant is “can we stay friends?” or “can we just be friends?”
There’s nothing wrong with being friends, don’t get me wrong.
But pretending that offering friendship to somebody who’s in love with you is a fair trade is incredibly hurtful and tone deaf.
How would someone not see friendship as a consolation prize if they want more?
So polite, yet so despicable.
20) “I’m sorry”
If somebody is really sorry then it’s great that they would apologize!
But people, generally speaking, apologize way, way too much.
Especially Canadians (I’m Canadian, so I’m allowed to say that).
Here’s the point:
Saying sorry too much may be very polite but it’s also annoying as hell.
Being too polite can be extremely rude
Here’s the bottom line:
Being too polite can be extremely rude.
I don’t think I’ve ever been as ticked off by an open insult or rudeness as I have by somebody being too polite to an absurd degree.
There’s a time and a place to be very polite, and treating others with respect is always a good idea.
Everyone deserves respect and to be treated well, but being too polite can cross the line into being low-key aggressive and offensive.