In today’s world, being “nice” and likable is perhaps the most valuable currency. Everyone wants to look like a good person and be on your good side.
But unfortunately, some people are just doing it to get something that they want.
How can you tell these people apart?
Sadly, I know more about this topic than most. Some of my relationships, both personal and professional, were pretty manipulative.
But the silver lining is that over time, I noticed a pattern of “nice comments” they all used. I started looking out for them and without fail, they always let me uncover a manipulator before I let them into my life.
And now, thanks to that, I can also help you do the same. Here are the 6 most common fake nice comments you should look out for.
1) “You’re too good for this.”
When someone tells you, “You’re too good for this,” it might sound like a compliment at first.
After all, they seem to be highly praising your capabilities.
But sometimes, this comment is more manipulative than flattering. How so?
It subtly plants seeds of doubt and dissatisfaction in your mind, making you question your current situation, your achievements, and even your future goals.
Let’s consider a hypothetical example. Imagine you’re considering a new project at work, something you’re excited about and truly believe could propel your career forward.
However, a colleague keeps telling you, “You’re too good for this.”
The comment could make you second guess your decision, holding you back from taking an opportunity you’re truly interested in.
The manipulator might benefit from this, maybe because they’re eyeing the same project, or they simply don’t want you to progress.
So next time you hear “You’re too good for this,” step back and think. Is the person genuinely concerned about you, or are they trying to sway your decision for their own benefit?
This reflection could save you from falling into a manipulative trap.
2) “I’m just being honest.”
We all love honesty — right? So no wonder the phrase “I’m just being honest” is thrown around like confetti at carnival.
And I’m sure in some instances it really is warranted, or said with genuine intentions.
But sadly, it’s often used as a cover for delivering hurtful, unnecessary criticism or sharing unsolicited negative opinions.
A person using this phrase can hide behind the veil of honesty, while their actual intent could be to undermine your confidence or to plant seeds of doubt in your mind.
Suppose you are excited about a new hobby you’ve taken up, like painting. You’ve been spending weekends dabbling with colors and you find the experience incredibly fulfilling.
One day, you show one of your pieces to a friend, and they respond, “I’m just being honest, but you’re wasting your time. You should focus your energy on your day job and your family.”
You might be stunned and suddenly feel ashamed of yourself — how dare you do something for yourself and have fun?
But you have to remember that some people may feel threatened when they see you stride forward in life. They could be dissatisfied with their own stressful life and the fact that they never allow themselves to have fun, or don’t feel creative enough to paint.
So they lash out at you. It’s the classic example of “if I can’t have it, nobody can.”
So, next time you encounter “I’m just being honest,” analyze whether or not the feedback is actually valuable and makes sense to you. You’re not obligated to internalize it just because someone says they’re “honest”.
3) “I knew you wouldn’t mind.”
Moving on to number three, “I knew you wouldn’t mind.”
This is a fascinating one because it has a seemingly affectionate and considerate ring to it. Who doesn’t want to be seen as someone easy-going, flexible, and cooperative?
This phrase, however, can often be a manipulative tactic cloaked in flattery.
The problem with “I knew you wouldn’t mind” is that it subtly bypasses your consent or input in a decision that may affect you.
By stating that they knew you wouldn’t mind, the speaker makes an assumption about your feelings or preferences. They may then act upon that assumption without seeking your approval.
Therefore, this phrase can often be used to justify actions taken without your agreement, or to guilt-trip you into accepting something you’re uncomfortable with.
It places you in a corner, where objecting could potentially make you seem difficult or unreasonable.
The key to dealing with this comment is to not allow assumptions to replace open and clear communication. If someone says, “I knew you wouldn’t mind,” take a moment to assess if you truly don’t mind.
Remember, it’s perfectly okay to express your discomfort or disagreement. Your feelings and preferences are important and deserve respect.
4) “I hate to be the one to tell you this, but…”
Here’s a statement often presented under the guise of concern: “I hate to be the one to tell you this, but…”
It’s a phrase people use when they’re about to deliver news or information that’s likely to upset or disturb you. And hey, I’m sure some people really mean it.
But for others, this phrase is just a smoke screen. It’s an easy way to look like they’re reluctantly telling you something for your own good, taking the spotlight off their intentions and placing it on the information they’re about to share.
Imagine, for instance, you’ve been trying to set up a small business, and someone comes up to you saying, “I hate to be the one to tell you this, but people in this neighborhood just aren’t interested in what you’re selling.” It feels like a bucket of cold water, right?
But take a step back. Is their concern genuine, or could they have ulterior motives? Perhaps they don’t want to see you succeed, or they themselves feel insecure about their own accomplishments.
So keep your guard up whenever you hear someone start a sentence in this way.
5) “Sorry to bother you.”
Number five on the list is, “Sorry to bother you.” This phrase seems polite, maybe even considerate, right? It acknowledges that the speaker might be interrupting you. But underneath the politeness, there can be a manipulative twist.
What this does is basically imply that you’re a person who is “bothered”. In other words, you’re not open to listening to or helping others.
So of course, you would want to prove to them that this isn’t true, and spend more of your energy doing whatever it is they want you to do.
An old friend I used to have did this all the time. Whenever she was in a bad mood, she would use phrases like this in her texts to make people feel like they’re being rude to her.
And by doing this, she would get them to start paying more attention to her and “repair” this bad impression she made them feel they left on her.
I was really put off when I understood what she was doing — and even more when I recognized that she was doing it to me too.
Of course, this alone doesn’t define who she was, and she had many other great qualities. But ultimately, our values didn’t align anymore, including this tendency to manipulate, and we went our separate paths.
6) “I would do it, but I just don’t have the time.”
We’ve all heard this before: “I would do it, but I just don’t have the time.” I remember hearing it from one particular manager at my previous job, whenever he was delegating a task that wasn’t so pleasant.
And it might seem innocent enough. After all, everyone gets busy.
But here’s how it can be manipulative.
Basically, they someone says, this, they are communicating two things.
One, they themselves would be willing to do it. As a result, you feel guilty for not being willing to do it yourself — you want to prove to this person that you’re as willing as they are.
And two, they are extremely busy. Therefore, if you’re a helpful person, you will lend a hand and take this off their plate.
And this is how people might use this phrase to pass off their responsibilities to you. They may not want to admit that they’re just not interested in the task or simply being lazy.
Next time someone tells you that they would do something but don’t have the time, consider if it’s really your responsibility to fill in. Are they genuinely tied up, or are they just shirking their responsibilities onto you?
Stand firm, be considerate of your own time and well-being, and don’t feel obligated to take on extra work that isn’t rightfully yours.
Stop being manipulated by fake nice people
Now you know 6 fake nice comments that people can casually use to manipulate you.
Unfortunately, these phrases are pretty common — and we do have to admit that some genuinely honest and kind people use them too.
So don’t leap to conclusions as soon as you hear one.
Make sure to treat each person, and each situation, as unique, and consider the context of what you’re dealing with.
How well do you know the person? What other information do you have? And most importantly, what does your gut tell you?
Over time, you’ll develop your ability to filter out fake nice people, and you’ll make sure they can’t manipulate you with phrases like these.