Life is short, so we might as well get along with one another.
Unfortunately, sometimes we unknowingly do things that alienate others.
If you’ve noticed people distancing themselves from you, then it might be time to start looking inward.
I’m here to help.
In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the behaviors that can potentially alienate other people without us realizing it.
Sometimes, all it takes for improvement is an objective party to provide you with clarity. Let’s dive in!
1) Constant negativity
Debt, illness, pandemics, fake news, high interest–the world isn’t perfect.
I think by now the majority of us are aware of that fact.
Most people are simply trying to get by, so having to put up with a persistently negative presence can be draining. And unnecessary.
When I was in college, I used to think it was edgy and cool to be negative.
Being happy? In my book, that was for losers, sheep, and conformists.
So I went about my days whining and being critical about everything, as if I were some vastly superior superhuman-like figure.
I’d sneer, I’d mock, I’d criticize–I loved the fleeting satisfaction of one-upping people.
If people universally liked a certain movie or TV show say, Forrest Gump or Game of Thrones, I’d scoff at how low-brow they were.
Yep, I was that guy. I cringe just thinking about it.
In my senior year, I started dating a girl I really liked. Things went well in the beginning.
After a few dates, I noticed her sullenly glaring at her untouched plate of chicken Alfredo. She professed, “I can’t see you anymore, you’re just too negative!”
Hearing this was a bit of a shock to the system, yet one that was sorely needed at the time.
From then on, I knew I had to change, and actively began cultivating positivity.
Needless to say, my love life improved considerably.
2) Dominating conversations
Relationships are about give and take.
When you’re egotistically dominating conversations, expect to alienate a few people.
If you’re doing things like constantly bringing the conversation back to you, cutting the other person off, or instinctively turning to your phone when they speak, you’re basically being disrespectful.
Be interesting by being interested.
People like to be heard. Listen actively–offer thoughtful feedback and questions not just monosyllabic, generic replies.
I was at the bar the other day and began conversing with the guy beside me.
After the initial small talk, he went on an hour-long, virtually uninterrupted monologue about his work and life dramas.
When I felt it was my turn to contribute, he would briefly feign interest and then continue talking about himself.
What was supposed to be simple bar chatter had morphed into a one-act play, one he had been rehearsing for years.
At that point, I felt like an unpaid shrink.
So I closed my tab, politely excused myself, and went on my way.
Moral of the story?
If you want to become an effective communicator, not an alienating one, value the exchange of ideas, not just your own.
If you regularly talk about your “friends” behind their backs to other people, then this isn’t the best look.
Nobody likes a gossip king or queen.
Sure, partaking in the occasional bit of gossip is human, but when it becomes a habit, don’t be surprised if you alienate a few folks in your circle.
Remember, small minds talk about people. Great minds discuss ideas.
The next time you get the urge to blab about others in a detrimental manner, hold your tongue and switch topics.
You’ll notice a difference in your interactions in no time.
Listen, you can be the nicest, most polite person in town, but if you’re always late, or tend to cancel last minute, you can fully anticipate making some adversaries.
You can have all the excuses in the world, from traffic to relationship drama to having to take your cat to the ER, but at the end of the day, if your flaky behavior becomes a pattern, people will certainly catch on.
So if you’re late or have to cancel once or twice, then don’t sweat it.
But when you exceed your quota, you will likely start driving people away.
Have you ever unfriended people on social media because they were a bit too close-minded, perhaps even borderline bigoted?
Well, that’s kind of what happens in real life when you’re stubborn with your views.
Being unwilling to consider other perspectives can say a lot about your core personality traits.
And if they’re a bit too inflexible, people get turned off.
This is especially true if the views or opinions you harbor are detrimental to others, particularly already marginalized groups of people.
It’s 2023–having an open mind is the way to go. History will remember you kindly.
I personally admire realness.
People who are unapologetically themselves, people who don’t take anyone’s crap, people who strive for individuality rather than being like everyone else. Very cool.
I think we all want to be authentic to an extent, even though some of us might be hesitant to take the leap.
On the flip side, the inauthentic person can get really tiring to be around.
They’re constantly trying to put up a front. They’re overly concerned about society’s perception of them. They prefer material things or money rather than genuine connections.
They’re also professional chameleons, only kind when it benefits them.
Perhaps they’ll pretend to be your friend, but when they don’t see any use for you, they’ll ghost you like a bad date.
You might be able to get away with this type of behavior with certain people, but those who count won’t stand for it for very long.
In a world built for conformity, it may take an extra push to discover your true authenticity – but once you get there, you’ll never look back.
This reminds me of the iconic Judy Garland, who once remarked: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.”
If some of these behaviors sound familiar, don’t be too hard on yourself. The fact is nobody is perfect.
There’s always something to improve on.
What matters is that you’re trying.
The fact that you’re reading this now means that you have taken the first step. Good on you.
Once you unlearn detrimental behaviors, you’re opening the door to authentic and lasting interactions.
Don’t let up… your days of alienating people are numbered.