12 common social quirks that make you less likeable

Jonah superbadSuperbad/Columbia PicturesIt might be time to nix your less favourable habits.

Being more likeable is within your grasp.

All it takes is nixing some of your less-than-desirable social quirks.

With the help of some Quora users and social psychology research, we were able to identify 12 social behaviours that could make you less likeable.

You’d be well-advised to avoid these:

Avoiding eye contact

Picture: Getty Images

The very first thing people will try to decide about you when they meet you is if they can trust you -- and it's fairly hard to like someone if you don't trust them.

As Heidi Grant Halvorson explains in her book 'No One Understands You And What To Do About It,' this decision is made almost entirely unconsciously, and it usually comes down to how well you can balance conveying two things: warmth and competence.

'People need to feel that they have been heard, even when you can't give them what they are asking for or can't be of particular help,' Halvorson writes. One simple way to show you're paying attention is to make eye contact and hold it.

Halvorson says that making eye contact is also an effective way to convey competence, and studies have shown that those who do so are consistently judged as more intelligent.

Avoiding eye contact, on the other hand, can convey deceit and untrustworthiness.

Resting stone face

Picture: YouTube/FSB

Nodding and smiling are other key ways to convey warmth and competence, Halvorson says.

If you want people to think you're cold, or even angry at them, then doing the opposite and not reacting to what they're saying is certainly a good way to go about that.

Being contrary

Picture: Getty Images

Showing empathy is an effective way to get people to like and trust you, Halvorson says.

It requires you to put yourself in the other person's shoes and try to relate to them by finding common interests, dislikes, and experiences.

If all you can do is contradict whatever someone says, you're not connecting with them, and you're very likely making them mad.

Ignoring an invitation to commiserate

Misery really does love company.

One effective but often overlooked method of showing empathy and connecting with someone is simply by saying 'I'm sorry,' Halvorson says.

You're not saying this as a way to accept blame for the circumstances but, instead, to express your regret that something bad has happened to the person you're talking to.

Researchers at Harvard Business School and Wharton found that people were far more likely to lend someone their cell phone when they first said, 'I'm so sorry about the rain!'

Expressing you understand someone's experience and hope the best for them produces tangible increases in trust. But if all you do is stand there when someone confesses their woes, you're not coming off as very likeable.

A weak handshake

Picture: Getty Images

Research shows that people decide whether or not they like you within seconds of meeting you. A weak handshake can contribute largely and negatively to that first impression.

Being cocky

People often confuse competence with confidence, Halvorson says. While you can never have too much competence, there is a healthy -- and unhealthy -- dose of confidence to be aware of.

The dangers of overconfidence include being underprepared, setting unrealistic goals, biting off more than you can chew, and generally making bad choices, Halvorson explains. And all this leads to being the least-popular guy in the room.

Instead, convey a realistic sense of confidence that shows modesty. You'll be less likely to threaten people's self esteem, and your mistakes won't elicit nearly as many cheers when you make them.


Sitting up straight has been found to lead to greater perceptions of competence, Halvorson says, whereas slouching can cause others to consider you less confident, low energy, and disinterested in what they have to say.

Crossing your arms or legs

Not accepting a compliment

Accepting a compliment can be tricky because you don't want to seem egotistical.

But you also don't want to mumble a, 'Thanks, you too,' because that makes you seem self-conscious and socially inept.

So instead of giving phrases like, 'You look 10 times better than me' or 'It was all thanks to you,' Quora user Julian Reisinger suggests accepting the compliment with confidence by using phrases like 'Thanks! Hearing that feels really good' or 'Thank you! What an amazing experience.'

Not listening

This one might just be the most infuriating social behaviour yet.

Listen more than you speak, says Quora user Mark Bridgeman: 'You have two ears, only one mouth. That's the ratio you should use them with.'

But simply hearing words doesn't cut it. Likeable people show that they're listening to the person they're talking to.

Active listening requires four steps, writes Chiasson: hearing, interpreting, evaluating, and responding.

Step one requires dropping what you're doing and paying attention. Next, 'paraphrase what you've heard and ask clarifying questions,' he suggests. Evaluating means steering clear of quick judgment and jumping to conclusions: 'Make sure you have all the pertinent information before forming or expressing an opinion.' Finally, 'give feedback to let the speaker know that you heard them,' he writes.

Constantly complaining

Being around negative people is draining.

That's why Quora user Milena Rangelov calls them 'energetic vampires' -- 'because they suck your energy.'

Being a 'Negative Nancy' is an instant turnoff. If you notice yourself complaining while everyone else starts to look distracted, do yourself a favour and pick a new topic.


Getty Images / Christopher Polk

As Andrew Thomas writes for Inc., likeable people avoid the fastest conversation killer, interrupting.

He contends that interrupting makes people defensive, disrupts the flow of the conversation, creates an unsafe environment, and makes people interrupt you in return.

'Patient listening establishes an unspoken bond of trust between you and the other person -- and you'll both benefit from a good conversation,' Thomas writes.

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