8 bad habits to break if you want to be more likeable

Who doesn’t want to be more liked? 

Okay, maybe the Grinch… but otherwise, we all crave affection and admiration from other people.

And I’m sure you’re an amazing person who others would love to have in their lives.

But sometimes things we do that we’re not even aware of can set us back. For example, these 8 bad habits that are actually very common.

If you recognize any of them in yourself, break them, and you’ll be sure to be a much more likeable person.

1) Contradicting or arguing with what someone said

This first bad habit is something that we’ve all surely experienced and is ridiculously simple, yet sadly few people take notice of it. 

Basically, it’s the power of two simple words in conversation: “yes and”

You don’t actually have to use these exact words — rather, it’s about the principle. When someone says something, you should accept and build on it rather than saying something contradictory.

For example, let’s say someone complains about feeling constantly tired. A “yes and” response would be “I can see you’ve been very busy lately. No wonder you’re feeling drained.”

On the other hand, compare that to a response like “Come on, it’s not that bad. I have even more work, and I’m not complaining.” 

If you do the second kind of response enough, you’ll put significant emotional distance between yourself and the other person, because they’ll feel like you’re constantly disagreeing with them. 

So whenever you can, try to see if you can find common ground with what the person said, and build on it.

2) Continuously changing the topic to yourself

I have a close friend who has a very varied range of hobbies, and I love listening to him talk about them.

But at one point, I realized that I barely ever talk about my own life with him. And then the next time I hung out with him, I realized why.

Every time I started to tell him about something, he would somehow turn the topic back to himself.

I was worrying about a problem at work — damn, that sucks! And off he went about what happened to him last week with his boss. 

I had a strange dream — whoa, so did he! And then he launched into his theory of what dreams mean.

I was actually amazed at how he managed to always find a segue. I mean, he had plenty of cool experiences, and I did love to hear about them — but I would have also loved to share my own.

He definitely doesn’t do this on purpose, as he’s a very kind person and caring friend. 

But unfortunately, this bad habit can easily put some people off. When he fixes it, he can easily become even more likeable

3) Being constantly negative

Do you have any friends who are constantly negative? I’m guessing not too many, because we tend to gravitate towards positive people who bring joy into our lives. 

If someone constantly complains and criticizes others around them, it won’t be long before you stop wanting to hang out with them.

I know someone who’s an incredibly kind person in their heart, but unfortunately developed a habit of complaining about practically everything and everyone. 

He doesn’t do it with any ill intention — in fact, I’m pretty sure he thinks it’s funny. And over time, he just got used to it.

But even though I care deeply about this person, I realized the other day that I don’t think that often about spending time with him anymore. 

It’s not even a conscious decision I made — it’s a subconscious distancing from negativity. 

If he doesn’t break this bad habit soon, it will take its toll on all his relationships. 

4) Always wanting to be right

Another bad habit you’ll want to break to be more likeable is the need to always be right. 

Some people acquire this habit if they were criticized a lot by other people, or their boundaries weren’t respected for a long time.

I know someone who unfortunately spent several years in a relationship where her partner didn’t respect her boundaries, and she learned to be very defensive and protective of her needs as a coping mechanism.

While this is understandable if you understand her situation, most people don’t know the background. And to them this behavior is simply off-putting.

Thankfully, with the help of a therapist, she was able to overcome her defensive tendencies, and approach her healthy friendships with more flexibility and compassion. 

Once she made this switch, she immediately felt more comfortable and less insecure in her relationships. 

Her friends started seeking her out more, which is clear proof that she has become more likeable in their eyes.

5) Bragging too much about yourself or your accomplishments

This one’s tricky — because as we said above, being positive is a good thing.

You should always take the time to celebrate your little wins and achievements — and I would hope that you have a supportive community around you that can celebrate with you.

However, if you take this too far, it can make you less likeable.

We’ve all got problems that we’re dealing with. So if someone seems to have the perfect life, and makes sure that you know it, you won’t be able to relate to them so well. 

Researchers explain it’s because it alienates other people, who feel left out as they don’t have much in common with your perfect or extraordinary life. 

So while nobody wants to be around a Debbie Downer, it does help if you show people you are a real human being with both successes and setbacks.

6) Running late to every appointment

It’s pretty clear how this is a bad habit — at least, if you live in a culture where punctuality is expected.

I do, and I see this in a few people around me. There’s one friend in particular I can think of who’s so late, I once joked that we should tell him to come 2 hours earlier than the party actually starts.

(I was kidding, but it honestly would have been helpful — because that’s how late he can be).

Naturally, things can get in the way from time to time, but if you do it as a habit, the real problem is your planning and organizational skills.

And this is both disrespectful and makes you less likeable, because it shows you don’t value people’s time. 

7) Gossiping about others behind their back

Many people don’t think they gossip, because they’re not the one starting it. But as long as you participate in the conversation, you have this bad habit too.

(It doesn’t matter who started the fire, if you help keep it going!)

I’m sure you don’t do this with any bad intentions. One of the biggest gossipers I know is also one of the most caring friends I have. 

He just loves to talk, and since he hangs out with a lot of people he ends up talking about them.

But unfortunately, this bad habit still makes you less likeable. People begin to trust you less because they’re not sure if you’ll be able to respect their privacy.

Although I love talking to my friend, I am careful what I tell him because I’m never sure whose ears it will end up reaching. 

8) Checking your phone all the time

You know those funny memes where a bunch of friends are hanging out, but they’re all just staring at their own phones?

Sadly, this is a pretty accurate reflection of some people. And if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of it, you’ll know why it makes you less likeable.

If you’re hanging out with someone but they’re more interested in texting someone else, or scrolling through Instagram, then you’d wonder why they wanted to hang out with me in the first place.

Friendships are extremely valuable, so we should show the minimum respect of giving our full attention to the person we’re with. 

Most people pick up their phone to check notifications without even realizing it, but it’s important to break this bad habit if you want to be more likeable

A good strategy may be to turn your phone completely off while you’re spending quality time with someone.

Final thoughts

It’s great that you’re working on being more likeable — all your friendships and relationships will benefit from it.

And now, you know 8 bad habits to break in order to help you achieve this goal. 

Even the best people can recognize at least one of these bad habits in themselves at some point in their lives. There’s no shame in realizing that — what’s most important is what you choose to do about it next. 

Silvia Adamyova

Silvia Adamyova

Born in Slovakia, raised in Canada, with a translation degree from University of Ottawa and an editing certificate from Simon Fraser University. Now based back in Slovakia (if you’re wondering why - have you seen Canadian winters?). Full-time freelance English teacher, translator, editor, and copywriter. Part-time avid reader, self-development junkie, and cake addict. I hope my writing inspires you in some way — if it does, find me on LinkedIn or Instagram and let me know!

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