9 subtle signs you’re giving off an unfriendly vibe (without realizing it)

We all want to be seen as friendly and approachable, but sometimes our actions can send the opposite message.

It’s easy to misinterpret your own behavior, thinking you’re just being reserved or realistic, while others might perceive you as cold or standoffish.

The tricky part is that these signals are often subtle and unintentional – and that’s what makes them so easy to overlook.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through 9 quiet signs that you might be giving off an unfriendly vibe without even realizing it. Let’s dive in.

1) You’re not making eye contact

The eyes are the window to the soul. If you avoid making eye contact, how do people connect with you?

Maintaining eye contact during a conversation is an important part of appearing approachable and friendly. The next time you’re chatting with someone, make a conscious effort to meet their gaze.

However, if direct gaze is not your cup of tea, here’s something you can do.

Look at the person’s eyebrows or the bridge of their nose instead of their eyes. It gives the appearance of engagement without the direct intensity associated with eye contact.

It’s a small change, but it can make a big difference in how people perceive you.

2) Your body language is closed off

Body language can speak volumes about our mood and intentions, often without us even realizing it.

Take me, for example. I used to have a habit of crossing my arms when I was deep in thought or just feeling a little cold. What I didn’t realize was how this simple gesture was being interpreted by others.

One day, a friend of mine pointed out that I seemed distant and unapproachable whenever I crossed my arms. I was stunned. I didn’t mean to come off as standoffish or unfriendly!

From that day forward, I made a conscious effort to keep my body language open. It was a small adjustment, but it made a significant impact on how others perceived me.

If you often find yourself with crossed arms, slouched posture, or minimal gestures, you might be unconsciously giving off an unfriendly vibe.  

3) You’re rarely smiling

A smile is a universal symbol of friendliness. It signals warmth and welcome, making people feel more at ease around you.

But did you know that a genuine smile doesn’t just involve your mouth?

It’s actually your eyes that give it away! This type of smile, known as a Duchenne smile, involves both the muscles around your mouth and your eyes. It actually makes your smile look more believable, according to research

On the contrary, if you’re rarely seen with a smile on your face or if your smiles don’t reach your eyes, you may appear less friendly and approachable.

4) You’re not actively listening

A person who’s not actively listening is like someone who shows up to a conversation wearing noise-canceling headphones.

Sure, you’re physically there, but mentally you’ve embarked on a solo DJ performance in your head. That’s a big turnoff. 

Active listening is a crucial part of any conversation. It shows that you value what the other person is saying and that you’re engaged in the discussion.

But keep in mind that active listening is not just hearing.

It’s also about responding appropriately, asking follow-up questions, and showing empathy towards their feelings or situation.

5) You’re constantly phubbing

We’ve all been there.

You’re in the middle of a conversation when you feel that familiar buzz in your pocket. It’s so tempting to take a quick peek, but doing so can make you come across as antisocial.

When you’re constantly phubbing, or checking your phone during conversations, it can come across as if you’re not interested in what the other person is saying, according to research.

Mindless phubbing gives off a vibe that you’d rather be somewhere else or that you’re waiting for something more important to come along. Even if you don’t mean disrespect, your interlocutor will feel affronted.

If this sounds like you, try putting your phone away during conversations.  

6) You’re not showing empathy

I can’t stress this enough: Empathy is a powerful tool in building social connections. 

It’s the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s about treating others the way you want to be treated.

However, if you’re often quick to give advice or change the subject when someone shares their feelings or experiences, you might be coming off as insensitive or uncaring. This can create a sense of distance and make you seem less friendly.

7) You’re always in a rush

We live in a fast-paced world, and it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle. I recall a time when my schedule was so packed that I barely had time for meaningful interactions.

This constant state of hurry seeped into my conversations. I would often cut discussions short or appear distracted because I was always thinking about the next thing on my to-do list.

What I didn’t realize was that this made me seem unapproachable and unfriendly. People felt that I was too busy for them, or that I wasn’t interested in what they had to say.

It took some time, but I learned to slow down and be present in my interactions. This made a world of difference in how people perceived me.

8) You’re not offering compliments

A nice word always goes a long way. It can instantly brighten someone’s day and make them feel appreciated.

Does that mean you should dish out flattery like confetti?

Nope! It’s about acknowledging the effort someone put into that stellar outfit or the meal they whipped up for you. Holding back compliments when compliments are due doesn’t make you Simon Cowell; it just makes you look like you’re foreign to the concept of social niceties. 

9) You’re a poser

There’s nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward. I agree.

But pretending to be someone you’re not all the time will not do you any good.

Take, for example, Instagram influencers.

I don’t know if it’s just me, or social media influencers these days are starting to look like antisocial beauty clones. You know the images I’m talking about: winged eyeliner so sharp they could cut a knife, perfectly arched eyebrows, a full pout, heavily contoured cheeks, topped off with status symbols in the background. 

If you met these people in real life (looking like they did on Instagram), would you dare to approach them to ask for directions?

When I look at them, I see the same thing: curated persona.

This curated approach to maintain a certain image can inadvertently create a perception of inauthenticity and unfriendliness. The emphasis is now more on presentation than genuine connection.

Final thoughts: It’s all about connection

Human interaction involve a dynamic display of verbal and non-verbal cues. Our body language, facial expressions, and even our attention span play crucial roles in how others perceive us.

If you’ve recognized some of these signs in yourself, don’t despair. Self-awareness is the first step towards change.

And remember, friendliness is not about putting on a facade or pretending to be someone you’re not. It’s about being authentic, showing empathy, and taking time to truly connect with those around you.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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