7 Unsexy Habits That Demolish Your Likeability

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When people tell you that you shouldn’t care what people think of you, they’re wrong. The complexity of social dynamics cannot be resolved with such oversimplified advice.

Here’s what I think.

  • You should not pay too much attention to what a single person or people think of a single decision or action of yours.
  • However, you should care about the overall general opinion people have of you. Because if everyone thinks you’re an asshole, you most probably are.

Here are 7 unsexy habits that demolish your likeability:

1. Breaking micro-promises

In day-to-day life, we make a lot of micro-promises to each other.

  • “I’ll return your car by 7 PM.”
  • “I’ll meet you at the coffee house at noon.”

And people often break them thinking that it’s harmless. They’ll return stuff later than promised. They’re unpunctual.

But it’s anything but harmless. These broken micro-promises build up — and cumulatively, people respect you less because you don’t keep your word. And they grow a subconscious grudge against you because breaking promises feels deceitful to them.

A simple rule to follow is — don’t make promises you can’t keep. And for some reason, if you’re unable to keep the promise you made, inform and apologize.

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2. Not being able to take a joke

Post my breakup, two of my friends often joked about how I’m not getting any action. And I joked back, “Yeah, I think my virginity is growing back.” And we’d all have a good laugh.

Of course, I was able to take the joke because I knew that these people cared for me — and they joked because that’s our thing.

On the other hand, people are often not able to take a joke at their expense. They have thin skin. And they get offended easily whenever someone makes even mild fun of them. This makes such people less likable — as it shows that they’re less secure with themselves.

The solution is to develop a thicker skin and learn to steer into the skid. When someone makes fun of you, learn to join them and laugh at yourself. This shows people you’re secure — and makes you more likable.

3. Extravagant fault-finding

We’ve all met that person. The one who claims that everyone’s stupid. They’re like Sherlock when it comes to finding people’s flaws. And often, these people criticize others for having a flaw that they possess as well! It’s ironic.

I think it happens because of our egos. When we criticize others on something, we subconsciously tell ourselves, “I’m better than him in this area. I do not have this flaw” even if that's false. That’s why highly insecure people criticize everyone over everything. They think everyone else is flawed.

And the truth is — we all have a tendency to find flaws in others. I’ve learned a good way to counter this. First, I try not to point out people’s flaws. But let’s be honest, we all end up finding flaws no matter how hard we try not to. So, whenever I do point out someone’s flaw, I try to follow it up with the statement, “But that’s okay. We’re all very young right now. I shouldn’t expect people to be perfect.”

This reinforces in my mind that everyone has flaws — and they don’t need to be pointed out over and over again. This has rewired my mind to be less judgemental, and I point out people’s flaws less than ever.

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4. Overstepping your power

We’re all part of hierarchies. For instance, I’m an intern at a hospital. So I work under junior residents, senior residents, assistant professors, associate professors, and the HOD. So, all of these are in a position of power over me.

And they can exercise that power to some degree. They can ask me to do work in the hospital. However, at times, they ask me to complete their personal chores. And if they asked it as a favor — once in a while — that’d be okay. But they overstep their power by asking me to do stuff that isn’t part of my job description, and they do it often, knowing full well, that it’s difficult for me to say no.

It’s not nice. I don’t like it when it happens. I don’t like them when it happens.

If you’re in a position of power over someone, don’t overstep it. People will hate you for it.

5. Giving advice that wasn’t asked for

Giving advice is tricky.

If someone asks for it, then you’re good to go. However, when unasked, more often than not, advice is not taken in good faith for two reasons:

  • It’s taken as criticism even if your intention was to help.
  • Any advice is a proxy statement for, “I know better” and the person you’re giving advice to doesn't want to acknowledge or accept that you know better.

That’s why my rule is to not give advice unless the person asks for it. Only very rarely — when I know that the person will take my advice in good faith — do I give unasked advice.

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6. Whipping out your phone all the time

When they’re out meeting a friend, or a few friends, people often whip out their phones. They don’t realize that this is truly annoying to the person in front of them.

When you whip out your phone for any other reason except for a genuine need to, you subconsciously convey, “My phone is more interesting than you.” And that stings.

Hence, don’t keep your phone on the table — neither face up nor face down. Keep it in your pocket. Give due attention to the person in front of you.

7. Storytelling one-upmanship

We’re all storytellers. And we all have a competitive nature.

That’s why, when someone tells a story, we feel the urge to tell a better story. And it can take truly stupid forms as well. For instance, one might say, “Dude I saw an accident on 4th street. This and this happened.” And the other might say something along the lines of, “Bro! That’s nothing. I saw an even ‘bigger’ accident last week.”

The person who tells a story has the spotlight. When you tell a better story — you try to steal the spotlight. You steal attention from them. And we all like attention — so no one likes the person that steals it from us.

Therefore, if you have a better story, shut up. Save it for some time else. Let the fellow storyteller enjoy the spotlight.

Recap: 7 Social habits that make people dislike you:

  • Breaking micro-promises.
  • Getting over-offended when someone makes fun of you.
  • Finding flaws like it’s your day job.
  • Overstepping your power.
  • Giving unasked advice.
  • Taking out your phone during social gatherings.
  • Trying to tell a ‘better’ story and steal someone’s spotlight.

RELATED: 4 Bad Micro-Habits That Drain Your Cognitive Battery

Akshad Singi, M.D. has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, and more. 

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.