8 Ways You're Making a Bad Impression and Don't Even Know It

Use these tips to ensure you're putting your best foot forward and finding solid ground in a relationship.

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By Jennifer Cohen • Sep 15, 2016


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There's a reason they say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Through sheer unawareness, we can put others off. It can happen to anyone, but it doesn't have to happen to you. Follow these tips, and your good intentions will pave a road over any social pitfall and give your new relationships better ground to stand on.

1. Checking your phone mid-conversation.

A recent study from Deloitte revealed that Americans collectively check their phones eight billion times a day. That means, on average, you look at your phone 46 times per day. And there's a good chance that at least a few of those times, you should've kept it in your pocket -- especially when you're with others. Whether they're a VIP or your waiter, the person in front of you deserves your attention much more than someone you can't see. There will always be an exception for emergencies, of course, but chances are that the alert you just got can wait. If you really think it needs your attention, step away to the hallway or a restroom. Remember: don't text when you should be talking.

Related: Good Manners Are a Career and Business Necessity

2. Interrupting and never asking about other people.

When you're trying to impress, the impulse to talk about yourself can be tempting, but try to resist. You don't want to dominate the conversation. And if you find that your words have cast a cloud over the discussion, take a step back and ask yourself why that might be. Pay attention, react to what others are saying, and let them have their chance to speak. Men, especially, listen up. A recent study posted at Language Log showed that men are almost three times as likely to interrupt as women. With just a little self-control, soon everyone will be talking about what a great conversationalist you are.

3. You're not looking people in the eye.

It's important to maintain eye contact when meeting someone and addressing them. It shows you want to be engaged and are interested in what they have to say. And yet, there can be too much of a good thing. A Science Daily study revealed that eye contact may make people resistant to persuasion and we've all experienced the nervousness that comes from another person holding eye contact for just a moment too long. Extended, continuous eye contact can make others nervous, so mix it up. Show just enough to demonstrate your interest, but back off regularly to avoid looking like a serial killer.

4. Ending texts with periods.

Weird, right? Well, there is such a thing as digital etiquette, and a little of it goes a long way. In the same way that WRITING LIKE THIS MAKES IT SOUND LIKE I'M YELLING AT YOU, a period can change the entire vibe of what you're saying. Keeping your sentences grammatically correct is always good, but ending a short text with a period implies you're being short with the person. Some examples are "I'm fine." or "got it thank you." Researchers lead by Binghamton University's Celia Klin found that when that when a reply is followed by a period, subjects found the response to be less sincere than when no punctuation was used. Just be aware.

Related: If You Want That Customer, Mind Your Manners

5. Be wary of body language.

A report at Science Mag revealed that body language, not facial expression, reveals more of how someone is feeling. Take stock of what your body tells others: are you staying at arm's length? Are your arms crossed and pulled away, or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, are you using too much touching, making the person uncomfortable? Like checking your rear view mirror every now and then whilst driving, consider how you're holding yourself, and how others hold themselves around you.

6. Forgetting names.

"A person's name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language," writes Dale Carnegie in his classic book "How to Win Friends and Influence People", and those words couldn't be truer. Not remembering someone's name may not be a deal breaker, but it shows a lack of interest in that person. Taking the time to know who they are, and even how to spell and pronounce it correctly, is a very quick way to get someone on your side and keep them there. It builds familiarity and camaraderie because it's an easy way to demonstrate that you took the time to think about them.

Related: Brush Up on Your Manners and Learn How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life With These Books

7. You're a jerk to restaurant servers.

If you've never heard of the "Waiter Rule," it's time you learned it. As Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Dave Barry paraphrased William H Swanson's "33 Unwritten Rules of Management": "If someone is nice to you but rude to the waiter, they are not a nice person." Remember that how you treat the person you're not addressing is as important as who you are addressing.

8. Showing photos that don't include others.

Come on. Unless that dog is super cute, no one cares.

Jennifer Cohen

Jennifer is the CEO and founder of No Gym Required, a company that helps individuals and organizations create simple strategies to increase their productivity and success through health and wellness. She is also the author of both best-selling books, No Gym Required and Strong is the New Skinny and was recently named in the Top 100 most influential people in Health and Fitness.

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