15 Mini Things That Can Instantly Make You Less Likable

But many people still keep doing these.

John Roe
John Roe
Feb 11 · 8 min read
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Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

You applied for your dream job, everything went well in the interview, but you still got a rejection?

You went on a date with somebody, and you thought there was a great connection, but they still ghosted you?

You were in a social circle that you loved, but they have started not inviting you to future events out of the blue?

These all happened to me, and I found out that my likability was the reason. Often it was the things I was unintentionally doing that I could easily avoid. There is a ton of complicated wordy advice written for being more likable. But, this is not one of those stories.

We will go over 15 items I frequently see that people keep doing unintentionally. You can easily avoid these before social interactions, meetings, dates, conversations, and many others to be more likable and attractive.

Let’s jump in.

#1. Say Nothing When You Leave

I encounter these people mostly at work and sometimes in events. At the end of each day, they leave the office without saying “bye” or anything. In my experience, people take this behavior as rude and weird, and you risk being less likable.

It might be okay when you do this in a large event if you can’t find the person you were speaking with. Even in this case, at least you can try to find the host to say bye. If you are doing this frequently, people might stop inviting you to the events, and you can be less likable.

#2. Subtly Criticize People

We all very well know that nobody wants to interact with a person who keeps criticizing them. It might be okay when this is really needed, but people never like a person who takes this as a mission for themselves.

Similarly, if you subtly — and most often unintentionally criticize somebody, that would hurt your likability too. An example would be saying that “you can never do” something, but the person in front of you is doing that already.

#3. Fake Respond to Invitations

When you get invited to some event, respond or offer another option if you can’t make it. There is a lot of good advice for how to decline an invitation. But there are still some people who accept the invitation first, but then don’t show up or find some last-minute excuse.

What irritates me the most is getting a fake response like “something else” came up at the last minute without telling what it is. It is better to give a valid reason, or if you are not interested in that specific event, propose another idea.

#4. Fake Smile

Smiling instantly boosts your likability among its many other superpowers. If you don’t smile when having a personal interaction with somebody, they can perceive you as unlikeable.

But this doesn’t mean that you should be smiling all the time or force yourself to do it. People can easily detect fake or forced smiles. To avoid this, make sure to smile genuinely when interacting with people.

#5. Spell or Pronounce People’s Names Wrong

Remembering a person’s name is an excellent step to be more likable. Research states that a lack of interest might make us forget people’s names. And, the lack of interest could reciprocate and make people not like you in the long run.

You just met somebody and didn’t catch their name when you got first introduced? Instead of avoiding mentioning their names, you can just say: “I didn’t catch your name.” Also, learning the correct pronunciation and spelling of the person’s name boosts your likability — especially if it is hard to pronounce.

#6. Give One-Word Answer to Small Talks

Small talk is one of the most useful social skill that you can have. It is a great chance to get to know people and make friends. If you don’t respond or respond with one or two words when somebody tries to make small talk with you, you start with not a good impression. And this could lead to people not liking you.

Some days it is possible that you don’t have a good day, and you don’t feel like saying anything. If I am having one of those days, I make sure you respond to their comments, say my day is going super busy, and offer to chat another day.

#7. Ignore People in Group Interactions

Let’s say you are in a social conversation, and a new person stepped in. What would you do? What I see frequently is that sometimes people keep going with the conversation as if nobody joined. Yes, it might be that you are in the middle of a conversation, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore that person and keep talking to other people.

A better way to do this is to make sure they feel welcomed, introduce themselves, and then you can continue with your conversation and maybe include them by asking their opinion. If someone does this to me, no matter how important the conversation they are having, I instantly feel closer to them.

As Elie Wiesel wrote, “The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference.”

#8. Cut People Short when Speaking

Let people speak and finish their sentences. Nobody likes a person cutting their sentence in the middle of a conversation. Interrupting somebody while speaking not only hurts your likability but also disrupts the flow of the conversation, potentially cause the speaker to be defensive.

Yes, you might have a new idea that popped in your head, or you wanted to correct your comments while a person is speaking. In this case, you should wait until the person in front of you finishes their sentence before mentioning it. And, you would be less irritating and more likable.

#9. Offer Advice when not Asked

People miss this a lot, and I am sometimes guilty of this. You might have some experience in the problem that a person is having. Before telling that to somebody, you can ask if they want to hear your experience and advice. If they are not, skip offering any advice and potentially help them differently.

The reason that this could make you not likable is people can take unsolicited advice as criticism. If I think the listener would really benefit from it from my similar experience, I always ask to reduce the risk of being perceived wrong.

#10. Act Like You are Special

We all know some of those people. They don’t even talk to you as you didn’t graduate from the top tier school they went to, and they only speak to “cool people” who are “worthy of their time.”

In essence, everybody is special in their unique way and has their weaknesses. According to the research published in
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
, we are attracted to people who are similar to us. Therefore, acting like you are better than everybody else could definitely decrease your likability.

#11. Use Negative Words

Remove negative words from your vocabulary as much as you can. Research shows that when you use negative words, even when you say “no,” you and the listener release stress hormones, and you immediately irritate them. You drag the other person also down, making them more and more negative in time.

If I encounter those people, I slowly push them out of my life. I don’t have time for people who waste my time and make me more negative by constantly making negative statements. So, minimize negative words as much as possible.

#12. Ask Irrelevant Follow-Up Questions

Do you really listen to what people are saying? Do you respond to their comments and insights, or do you keep asking new questions and jump between topics? Research done at Harvard University shows that listening well and asking insightful follow-up questions in a conversation increases likability.

An easy trick you can use to check if you are doing this is by asking them if you really answered their question or if your question makes sense. If you didn’t, you might get a hint, and you can revisit your answer.

#13. Keep Looking at Other People while Speaking

How much do you look around when a person is speaking? Research shows it is best to use the 50/70 rule in a conversation. To avoid staring, you should aim for 50% eye contact while speaking and 70% while listening.

When I am in a conversation, if a person doesn’t maintain good eye contact with me and keep looking at other people around us, I start to lose focus. From my experience, if this continues frequently, people start to avoid that person.

#14. Play with your phone in a conversation

I know smartphones are entrenched in our lives. Without them, we feel lost and anxious. But, do you keep looking at your phone in a conversation? Doing this when a person is speaking could affect your likability and hurt your relationships.

If a person keeps looking at their phone when I speak to them, I start to think they are not interested and tend to cut the conversation short. If you keep doing this, and people might stop having conversations with you. It is best to keep your phone in your bag as long as possible.

#15. Be inconsistent

We are all inconsistent in some way, we all have ups and downs in life. But that doesn’t mean that we should reflect that swing in our actions. Having too much inconsistency and unpredictability could irritate people, and they can perceive you as less likable. Inconsistent behavior was also shown to decrease the likelihood of creating good first impressions.

Some examples from my experience are as follows: people being kind one day and mean another; when someone offers help and then disappears at the last minute; people being interested in something one day, not the next day. If people are inconsistent like this, I immediately get irritated and avoid that person as much as possible.

Conclusion

These are the 15 mini things from my experience that make people less likable. This is not an exhaustive list of achieving likability, but there are definitely many people unintentionally doing these and could easily avoid them to be more likable and attractive.

You might be doing none of these or doing them unintentionally. In either way, it could be useful to have a list similar to this one to periodically visit before social interactions — work meetings, socials events, dates — so that we don’t forget and unintentionally do any of them.

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