Have you ever met anyone that you didn’t like, but didn’t really know why?
Or perhaps you have realized that you’ve made a bad first impression and you want to know how to be more likable?
Most of these things come down to communication habits, and can be easily changed!
Read on to find out the worst habits for being disliked, and the best habits to cultivate to be liked while remaining authentic.
1) Talking about yourself too much
Sometimes when we feel nervous, we may find ourselves talking to fill the spaces in conversations, or trying to impress people with stories about things we’ve done…
I’ve been there! Did I tell you about that time here when I wrestled a lion and then I….Wait. Am I… talking about myself too much again?
If that’s you, don’t worry, you can share your interesting stories, but it’s important to establish rhythm and flow to the conversation, and take an interest in your companion.
So what should you do?
- Ask questions about the other person and their life experiences,
- Listen actively – nodding and using other non verbal cues to show you are paying attention.
- Ask relevant follow up questions to show that you are interested.
- Respond with a topic that flows from what they said.
- Be aware of body language – if they start to look away or drift off, it might be time to ask them a question instead, or say something like “What’s your opinion on this?’
With the tips above, you can foster healthy conversation where both people feel included! And that leads on to the next point:
2) Interrupting people when they’re speaking
Another conversational faux pas is when you interrupt someone frequently. Sometimes that can look like finishing people’s sentences in an effort to be helpful (but they may feel frustrated instead).
Or it might be as simple as interrupting so that you can speak instead. Either way it’s something that can make people dislike you.
Here’s what to do instead:
- Let people speak, even if they talk slowly or need to take a moment to finish their sentences or thoughts.
- If you struggle with ADHD or other things that affect your working memory, and you’re worried you’ll lose your thought, explain that to your friend and jot it down
- Alternatively, let the point go and stay in the present moment, you’ll find that you have something more relevant to say when it’s your turn to speak.
On the other hand, if someone is rambling on endlessly and you really want to say something, you can apologize for interrupting them first.
As a person with ADHD I actually appreciate it when I’ve been talking for too long and someone politely interrupts me.
3) Always being on your phone
So while we are on the topic of good conversational skills and politeness…
Put down that phone!
Well, not right now, but when you are having a conversation! “Phubbing” or “phone snubbing” is rude and in the words of Bupa Senior Advisor and Psychologist, Chanel Nesci:
“It can have a negative effect on our relationships as well as our self-esteem, due to feeling unheard or unimportant to the person we are trying to connect with.”
If that’s something you find yourself doing, know that you aren’t alone, but know that by making the effort to be fully present in your conversations you will be better liked, and enjoy yourself more as well!
4) Being overly negative or pessimistic
I had a friend who wondered why all of her friends eventually drifted away.
The truth is that she was very negative and that talking to her became draining.
She wasn’t a bad person and was dealing with various stresses, and all of the conversations we had became about her and how bad things were.
Even when I tried to change the subject and focus on things that were neutral or good, like a nice event or a pretty flower, somehow the conversation would turn to her struggles and sadness.
It’s ok to share your troubles with your friends, but as with all things balance is needed.
What to do instead:
- Try to practice gratitude for the good things in your life, no matter how small, and share them with your friends
- Set a time limit for venting, then try the tactics above, from active listening to asking others about what is important or interesting for them
- Consider journaling or talking into your phone recorder to release negative thoughts.
- Be positive and encouraging when people present their thoughts and ideas to you
Note: If you are suffering from depression (this can be a cause of extreme negativity) seek help from a professional.
5) Being late all the time
This is another great way to annoy people and make them feel negatively about you.
Timing can be a cultural thing (my Italian friends will arrive at least 30 minutes later than the agreed time, and to them, being early is considered rude. While my German friends will assume that something serious has happened if someone is more than 15 minutes late).
For most people though, being late shows a lack of respect for other people’s time.
If you, like me, struggle with time management, here are some tips to be better:
- Tell yourself that the meeting or appointment is earlier than it really is.
- Try walking out of the door to see if you really have everything prepared.
- Plan routes in advance, check traffic or public transport for delays.
- If you are running late, send a text or an email to the person to let them know!
6) Trying to ‘win’ a conversation
Having an exciting debate can be fun, but trying to win all the time is just annoying for others.
Keep these tips in mind when having a conversation about a controversial subject
- Explain your thoughts and reasoning, and then really listen to others and try to understand their point of view.
- Be lively but don’t get angry or defensive when people have different ideas than you.
- Agree to disagree – I’ve had people literally refuse to do this with me, which means that either a conversation will never end(!) or people walk away frustrated.
7) Boasting while pretending to be modest
Sharing your accomplishments with interested friends is wonderful, and it’s important to share your skills and achievements in an interview or other appropriate setting. But frequently showing off is a big turn off.
One of the most disliked forms of this habit, according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is humblebragging.
Humblebragging is the art of making it seem like you are being modest or even negative about yourself, while actually using it as a chance to self promote.
Sometimes you might make this mistake as you are genuinely insecure or troubled about something, but here’s some examples that can make people dislike you:
“I feel so ugly in this dress but everyone keeps telling me I look great”
“I’m so busy with volunteering and helping people that I have no time for myself”
In an interview situation, people are often told to reveal a bad trait they have and the most common answer is “Perfectionism.”
(Avoid this! It’s super corny and makes interviewers cringe).
If you get asked about your worst quality in an interview, try to be honest but also find something that doesn’t relate to the core skills of the job. Alternatively, tell the interviewer how you have been working on improving it. Remember, every strength is a weakness and vice versa!
DON’T: Use negative talk to frame what you want to say.
DO: Share good things with friends, family, loved ones and colleagues when appropriate.
Changing these habits will make you more likable
Look: All of us have bad habits and no-one is perfect or likable all the time, and nor should you try to be!
However, the way we communicate has a big impact on how others see us. These seven habits can make people dislike us, but fortunately, they can be easily changed.
Make an effort to notice if you frequently display any of these bad habits.
If so, follow the tips to become more likable and charismatic, while remaining true to yourself, and then enjoy a more fulfilling social life!