Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but human nature is universal. What I mean by this is that we all tend to react to certain behaviors others exhibit in more or less the same way.
Some automatically trigger negative reactions in us, causing us to want to flee the person and the conversation at the earliest opportunity. Others pull us deeper into the conversation and create a strong liking for and connection with the other person.
I’ve found that recognizing these facts is pivotal to not only learning to understand people better, but also to adjusting our behavior so that it has the most influential and positive impact on other people.
And what’s more important in life than learning to understand, get along with, and connect with others?
I would argue nothing, for out of this single ability comes the capacity to form better relationships that set the foundation for personal or material gain as benefits.
And isn’t that what we ultimately want out of life? Aside from improved health, better relationships or friendships and more money that can be translated into the lifestyle we desire?
So with that said, let me ask you this…
How important would it be to you to learn the behaviors we act out that naturally turns other off?
After all, this would empower you to avoid acting them out if you’re currently unaware of them, and thus form closer connections with the people in your life as a result.
Because if you don’t know what turns people off — though they’ll likely never tell you — you’re going to unintentionally turn others off without even being aware of it, presumably for the remainder of your life.
That was the case with me, until I made a change…
In my mid-twenties, I never considered the things I talked about, my unconscious reasons for bringing those topics up, and perhaps most important of all… how others were reacting internally to what I was saying.
It wasn’t until I started paying attention to how I reacted to the things others said and did that I realized, when I spoke in similar terms as them, that I was probably having the same impact on others without even realizing it.
What was worse was that most times these effects were negative. Or in other words, they were things that either bored, annoyed, or sometimes even angered others.
Did they ever tell me what these things were?
Of course not.
The same probably applies to you. If you behave in ways that bore or annoy others, they probably won’t tell you what they are. But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re still not boring or annoying them.
That’s why I want to share some of the common things I used to say that had these negative affects on others. And since I discovered what these things are, I’ve noticed that the majority of people are guilty of them too.
So I encourage you to check yourself to see if you’re guilty of them. And if you are, I recommend working at weeding these toxic behaviors out of your interactions with others.
First, and probably the most common toxic behavior, is complaining.
If you find yourself complaining about your health problems, money problems, or relationships problems with others, even though people may nod their heads and “uh huh” their way through your complaints, you should know that, in all likelihood, they don’t give a damn.
Think about the last time someone dumped their complaints on you. Did you care? Were you sincerely interested in hearing about that person’s problems and frustrations?
I’m willing to bet the answer was “No.”
And if you get bored and annoyed with other peoples complaints, why should they care about yours?
Eliminate complaining from your interactions. You’ll stop people from thinking, “When is this person going to shut-up already?”
Second, and though not so common, is bragging or boasting.
If you find yourself bragging about yourself, your achievements, your goals, or your possessions, you should probably know that not only were you irritating people, you were causing them to lose respect for you.
I mean, have you ever met someone who went on and on about how great they were; the things they’ve done or the toys they have?
Pretty annoying, isn’t it?
You just want to roll your eyes, don’t you?
So don’t inflict it on others. You’ll just lose respect and credibility in their eyes.
Third, and another very common toxic behavior, especially amongst men, is that of expounding on opinions.
If you’re over-opinionated — that is, you ramble on and on about your perspective and views on the world, what’s wrong with it and how it should be, or whatever — especially when no one asked for your opinion, you should probably know that you’re boring people and probably also annoying them if it’s a long-winded exposition where they can’t get a word in edgewise.
Sure, they may nod and agree here and there. But they don’t really care. They’re just being polite.
Think about yourself…
I’m willing to bet you’ve met someone who wouldn’t shut-up about their views and opinions. They essentially rammed them down your throat, and you felt trapped and caged in a one-sided conversation.
Pretty exhausting, isn’t it? It feels like you’re suffocating.
Well, others respond the same way.
Unless someone asks you pointblank, keep your opinions to yourself. Don’t bombard them on others.
I’ve found that these three toxic behaviors are the major things people voluntarily talk about in their conversations with others.
It’s their entire approach to having conversations with others: talk, talk, talk.
They don’t listen.
The result this has is that they turn others off. If it’s short, people get bored fast and their brains shut off. And if it’s longwinded, people start to feel trapped, anxious and irritated.
Holding other people’s attention and interest is the key to great interactions, which leads to great relationships. A part of holding peoples’ attention and interest is to not say or do things that bore and annoy them.
So if you want to create better interactions, discipline yourself to stop yourself from complaining, bragging and rambling on about your opinions.
This will make room in your interactions for the positive, connection building approaches and topics I discuss in some of my other articles.
BIO: Keenan Patram writes at KeenanPatram.com, where he shares insights into understanding people, and how you can use that knowledge to improve your communication skills to create powerful connections with others and get what you want out of life.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.