18 Polite Habits Most People Don’t Even Like

There are many things that we go out of our way to do each day just to be polite. But many of these habits are disliked or even loathed by most people. You’ll find 18 examples of these in this article.


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According to Inc.com, “the BBC reports British people say [sorry] at least eight times a day, and some say it as often as 20 times a day.” But over-apologizing is a habit that is quite irritating. When you overuse the word sorry, it loses its meaning, and your apologies don’t sound sincere.


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WAYZ says that “the average American says ‘thank you’ more than 2,200 times each year. That’s SIX times per day, at least.” But overusing the words “thank you” gets on people’s nerves. When you over-thank, your politeness can sound sarcastic or make it sound like you’re trying too hard.

Slow Speech

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“Speech is generally slower in formal language, allowing for correct and clear pronunciation, and the tone of the voice is more serious,” says The London School of English. Although speaking slower is more polite, it can frustrate some people who would prefer for you to just quickly get to the point.

May I

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Starting a request with “may I” is common in polite speech. But the requests that usually follow these words, such as “go to the restroom” or “have a drink of water,” are things that you don’t need to ask permission for. “May I” is polite but seems nonsensical.

At Your Earliest Convenience

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Many people say “‘at your earliest convenience’ instead of ‘as soon as possible’ in professional emails,” says Busuu. But these words, although polite, are often seen as passive-aggressive. It’s like the polite way of saying “do it now,” and because many people know that, they hate the phrase.

Apologetic Interruptions

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The words “sorry to interrupt” followed by an interruption are polite, but still annoying. The NY Times explains that interruptions, even when apologetic, are frustrating because, “for many of us, [interruptions] can feel diminishing and condescending.” We should avoid cutting people off when they are talking.

Formal Addressing

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When you meet someone you don’t know in a formal setting, it is common to address them using a title. However, addressing people by their title creates distance between you and them and does not set the stage for open communication. Many find this way of addressing others antiquated.

Constant Smiling

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The figures from Henry Ford Health show that “children smile an average of 400 times per day, compared to the average happy adult who smiles 40–50 times per day.” Why don’t we smile constantly as adults? While smiling is polite, it can seem insincere or even creepy if you smile too much.


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Most formal letters and emails are signed off using the word “sincerely,” followed by the person’s name. Although the word “sincerely” is used religiously in this context, its use doesn’t actually help to convey any more credibility or add weight to the person’s words. Some letters signed “sincerely” may not sound sincere at all.


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Some formal letters are addressed to “dear,” followed by the person’s name or title. Although the word “dear” is a term of endearment, its use in this context doesn’t make the letter sound any sweeter. The use of this word makes the letter sound overly informal and builds a wall between the writer and the reader.

Complex Sentences

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When writing a letter, it is normal for people to make sentences longer and more complex than they need to be to get their message across. (Like saying “we regret to inform you” instead of “sorry.”) But overcomplicating sentences and not getting to the point, although it looks more polite, can frustrate the reader.

Unsolicited Help

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Some people will try to help you with something even though you haven’t asked. This can often be a good thing, but other times, it’s not. When you are dealing with a personal matter, unsolicited help, even from family and friends, may seem intrusive and invasive.

Insisting on Paying

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To be polite, a person might insist on paying for someone else’s meal at a restaurant. Although this might seem like a kind gesture, it can create an uncomfortable atmosphere when a big scene is made at the table in front of a lot of guests.


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Phrases such as “you choose” or “you decide” are polite ways of letting the other person get what they want. But over-agreeing can also make it seem like you don’t have an opinion or don’t want to face the responsibility if the action turns out wrong.

Holding Doors

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Holding the door open for others is a polite act that is becoming less and less common in modern society. But holding doors open can sometimes make the person feel rushed. This act seems unnecessary, as we are all capable of holding doors open ourselves.

Third Person

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As a formality, some people will address you in the third person when asking questions. Although this speech is polite, it is often offputting and confusing, as it may take you a minute to figure out who the person is talking about before you respond.


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While being submissive to what other people say and do can seem polite, it can also show a character weakness. Being overly-submissive might show that you are lacking self-confidence or self-respect. People like it with others are submissive at times but assertive when they need to be.

Apologizing for Others

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Apologizing for the actions of others is something that we have all done. But an apology like this cannot be sincere, as it is not coming from the right person. Most of us would prefer to hear an apology from the right person than sit through someone else apologizing and making excuses for others.

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