🌻7 Subtle Behaviors That Quickly Repel Anyone You Meet


Most people don’t even notice they’re doing it.

You don’t need much to turn someone off.

Being around some people feels like Chinese water torture. Their behaviors are like dripping cold water onto the victim’s head, slowly driving them insane. The worst thing?


They don’t even notice they’re chewing gum loudly or drench your face in spit while talking to you. We’re often oblivious to our people-repellants as well, yet they push others away, even if we’re a good person. Humans are superficial, after all.

To connect with others deeply, we first have to stop the subtle behaviors that turn them off.

Learn More

Read also: If you feel stuck, ask yourself this powerful question

Not Understanding This Essential Concept

There was one good thing about the Coroni-Maccaroni pandemic.

People stopped breathing down your neck in the supermarket line. I love conversations with strangers, but your mouth and my ears work perfectly. You don’t have to tickle my nose with your tongue for me to understand you — and I’m not the only one.

In 1969, an anthropologist named Edward T. Hall found that we have four zones of interpersonal distance:

  • Intimate
  • Personal
  • Social
  • Public

Source: Wikipedia, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

When you venture into someone’s intimate or personal zone too quickly, it makes them uncomfortable. Their cavemen instincts kick in and view you as a potential threat, even if you have nothing but the best in mind. It feels weird — so why do people do it?

First, interpersonal distance is highly subjective. Your definition of “too close” is someone else’s “too far.”

Second, the need for personal space depends on culture and upbringing. If you’ve spent your childhood in crowded marketplaces or sleeping with three siblings in one bed, you won’t bat an eye when a stranger brushes past you.

Yet, most people like their space.

How to stop doing it:

Pay attention to people’s intimate zones and you’ll notice when you’re too close.

They’ll lean out of the conversation, take a step back, or get visibly uncomfortable. Give them space to breathe.

Not Having Your Vocal Cords Under Control

Our family has a weird gene.

We dial our volume up by a good 50% when we talk on the phone. My mum and grandma live ten minutes apart, but if they opened their windows instead of dialing a number, they wouldn’t need technology to talk.

A friend of mine has a similar gene — just like his girlfriend. When they visit you, you want to put up signs for the neighbors apologizing in advance.

But that’s still better than people who are so quiet you need two megaphones and a custom-made hearing aid to understand whether they love cooking or cocaine. At least you find out when they bring a pan and you a razor blade and mirror.

Nobody likes to be screamed at or constantly go “sorry?”

It’s annoying. It kills any chance of a solid conversation. And quite often, we don’t even notice it.

How to stop doing it:

Be aware of how others listen to you.

Do they often have to lean in or ask you to say things again? Or do they back out and cover their ears? Also, pay attention to your environment.

Busy train station? Speak up. Heart-wrecking funeral? Keep it down.

It’s not that complicated.

Assaulting Others’ Ears With Icky Noises

I’m both amazed and disgusted by the noises the human body can make.

I once offered my date chewing gum — because of courtesy, not bad breath. She chewed it with her mouth open. _Tshhk tshhk tshhk. _I lasted about ten seconds before I asked her to either close her mouth or throw out the gum.

Some people create a symphony of coughing, slurping, scratching, chewing, and farting noises. They give you the whole orchestra even if you didn’t buy a ticket for it. I don’t care how much of a great human being they are, but the only noise I want to hear is a baseball bat hitting their head.

When certain sounds drive you crazy, it’s called_Misophonia. _When people harass everyone’s ears, I call them assholes. Don’t be one of them.

How to stop doing it:

Please, chew with your mouth closed. Please, don’t watch videos on your phone blasting at full volume in public. Please, understand that not everybody wants to hear foul-smelling air leaving your body.

Give others a little peace and quiet instead of assaulting their ears — they’ll thank you for it.

Giving Unsolicited Feedback And Unwanted Advice

Feedback is a double-sided sword.

It helps us learn, but our egos often stand in the way. We don’t want to admit we’re wrong or there’s a better way. Especially if we didn’t ask for advice.

I’ve hit the gym for over ten years and spent thousands of hours nerding out on YouTube videos, scientific studies, and world-class coaches talking about exercise mechanics. Seeing others blow out their backs with incorrect lifts makes my eyes and body hurt. But instead of schooling them, I give a little compliment about their dedication, then ask if I could tell them something about the exercise.

Their brain says “thanks” instead of _”fuck you”_and I connect with them instead of pushing them away.

Even if you want the best, give it to people slowly — and accept if they want to keep doing things their way.

How to stop doing it:

Be mindful of the ego.

Knowing better doesn’t give you the right to shove your views down someone’s throat. Ask if they want help. Share advice without expectations.

Connect instead of repel.

Being Glued To Your Phone

Every day, I give people the most valuable gift I can.

It’s my time. When someone talks to me, they’re getting an irreplaceable part of my life — and I get one of theirs. That’s why I respect their presence and attention.

Unfortunately, others often don’t see it that way. Instead of listening or enjoying the moment with you, they check the six hundred gazillion notifications on their phone. I’ve got a very low tolerance for that.

You either spend time with me or with your phone, but don’t expect me to watch and wait while you do the latter.

Not paying attention because you’re glued to your phone is one of the fastest ways to turn others off.

How to stop doing it:

I put my phone into airplane mode before I go on a date or spend time with a friend.

You can also put it face down where you can’t see it. Let go of the need to check it every five minutes. Nothing is happening that’s more important than the person right in front of you.

Photo by Josh Withers on Unsplash

Lacking This Basic 21st-Century Trait

I’ve got a love-hate relationship with public transport.

Getting from A to B for cheap is great. But the people often aren’t — especially during a hot summer, when the stuffy air mixes with exquisite notes of rotten armpits_._ I seem to always meet the ones who are two weeks away from their yearly shower.

I’m not telling anyone what to do with their body. If you’re into natural deodorants or conserving water, more power to you. But if your odor makes my eyes tear, you drive me away like a leaf blower a stack of papers, no matter how much I share your views about protecting the environment.

How to stop doing it:

Basic. Fucking. Hygiene.

Shower, use deodorant, brush your teeth, and change your clothes frequently, especially after cooking onions or sweating buckets at the gym.

We live in the 21st century, so act like it.

Read also: 8 subtle behaviours that will loose you respect

Choosing To Be Offended

I’m an asshole.

Well, at least that’s what some people who met me say. Others think I’m amazing. Why the difference?
Some people take things personally. Every little sentence is an attack on them. If you say you dislike yellow shirts and they happen to wear one, they act like you called their mum a discount whore.

Here’s a harsh truth: Most people don’t give a flying fuck about you.

The date who didn’t call you back, the guy who cut you off in traffic, the dude whose opinion you don’t agree with — they have nothing against you. They’re just being who they are.

Being offended is a choice and it repels people because they feel like they have to walk on eggshells around you.

How to stop doing it:

Stop taking everything personally.

Nobody is out to get you. People don’t care. Treat opinions as opinions instead of an attack directed at you. Learn to disagree.

Choose to not be offended and you won’t be. This will bring you peace of mind, as well.

How To Stop Driving People Away Without Noticing

I have the firm belief that deep down, we all want to get along with each other. But sometimes, we push people away with tiny, subtle behaviors. Avoid these to stop killing your chances of connecting with others:

  1. Be mindful of their personal space.
  2. Talk at an appropriate volume.
  3. Stop making annoying noises.
  4. Only give feedback and advice when asked.
  5. Put away your phone and pay attention to the other.
  6. Be clean, smell good, and have basic hygiene.
  7. Choose to not be offended at every small thing.

It’s not that hard to make the world a better place.

Contributed by Moreno Zugaro

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