When it comes to qualities we respect in people, it's rare to find someone who won't include "being polite" on their list. That said, though, politeness can be a double-edged sword — and, indeed, some of the signs you're too polite might indicate that your polite behavior is actually doing you more harm than good. In general, being polite tends to help people in many situations: It's never a bad thing for your boss to think of you as polite, or for your friends to immediately know you as considerate. But for some people, being too polite can actually be a recipe for putting their personal needs behind the needs of others, and that can lead to burn-out and resentment.
So, how do you know if you're too polite? In all fairness, it might be different for everyone; everyone has a different baseline for what they consider "politeness" to be, for one — and beyond that, everyone has different obligations and commitments in their own lives that they have to contend with as well. What someone considers being "too polite" or "too nice" will likely look different for someone else, and that's OK! Figuring out where the line between polite and too polite is ultimately comes down to self-investigation and looking seriously at your behavior and patterns. Do you tend to regret agreeing to certain favors or commitments? Do you find yourself helping others out because you feel pressured to, not because you want to? Do you simply feel that you don't express your true views because you're worried about offending others?
No matter what the case is, if you feel that you're too polite, it's good to make sure you aren't letting it take a negative toll on your life and happiness. While not all-inclusive, check out the list below for some common signs:
1. Your Default Response Is "Sorry"
If you find yourself constantly saying that you're sorry and apologizing for things that aren't even in your control, it's a sign you might be too polite. For a lot of people who are people pleasers, it's tempting to "fix" or "solve" situations by cleaning them up as quickly as possible, but it's important to recognize when it's not actually your job to do so. Constantly apologizing can be exhausting, especially if you begin to internalize all of these issues as "your fault," even if they aren't.
2. You Have A Hard Time Asserting Yourself In Groups
If you find yourself wondering if you're too polite, a great hypothetical is to think about how you act in a group dynamic. Do you find yourself failing to network because you feel rude inserting yourself into a conversation? Do you end up barely getting a word into friendly conversations because you don't know how to redirect the talk back to yourself or your day? These are signs that your considerateness of others may be coming at the expense of silencing your own voice and hiding your personality.
3. You Feel Pressured To Do Others Favors
When someone puts pressure on you to do them a favor and you're not OK with doing it, it's always a tricky balance to get out of it without feeling like you're at risk of offending them. If you're prone to being overly polite, though, it's likely you never really get out of doing someone a favor — even when you don't want to or might not be able to — because, well, you always agree to them. Even if your polite response is positive in the moment, it has the potential to lead to loads of resentment and passive-aggressive feelings down the line. It's also a surefire way to drain your energy.
4. You Always Put Your Own Needs Last
Whether it's that you really need to catch up on sleep or that you simply want an afternoon to yourself, if you're too polite, you may experience feeling like it's impossible to say "no" to people. But putting your own needs last over and over can not just be bad for you emotionally, but also physically: Studies show that when people experience chronic stress and fatigue, they're more likely to sleep poorly, have less energy, and feel more irritable overall. This is no way to live your daily life, even if you're trying to do the "right" thing by being polite in the moment. Establishing boundaries doesn't make you rude or mean! It just lets others know where your lines are, and that's perfectly OK.
5. You Don't Tell People When They've Hurt You
In my personal experience, this is a big one. If you're too polite, you may have a hard time telling people when something they've said or done has hurt or upset you. Whether it's a family member who made an offensive comment at dinner or a friend who was a little too judgmental of your outfit, these things can really have a lasting effect on your mood and self-esteem. If you're prone to being too polite, however, it's likely you'll be tempted to brush these reactions under the rug and ignore them so you don't seem confrontational or rude. But it's important to remember that voicing your feelings is not wrong. It's OK to have an honest dialogue with those around you, especially if they've accidentally (or even intentionally) hurt you.
If you feel like you might be too polite, it's OK! There is absolutely nothing wrong with being polite and considerate of others. If you feel like your desire to be polite is pushing back your own needs and fulfillment, though, it's important to step back and reevaluate the situation. Setting boundaries and valuing your own needs and wants is essential, because you are absolutely worth it.
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