15 Glaring Signs Of Social Incompetence You Want To Avoid

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Everyone wants to read about how to develop great social skills. But what good are the best tips and techniques if they are being destroyed by negative behavior that makes you come across like a douchebag? Worry no more. Here is a list of behaviors that you should avoid at all costs if you want to be seen as socially skilled.

Before we dive in, I would like to clarify something: Everyone has some negative social behavior. It’s normal. Things become problematic, however, as soon as these behaviors turn into habits.

I, for example, used some of the negative behaviors in this article as my default state of communicating. I did not know how to connect with others through positive communication. So, I relied on connecting through negativity. But it backfired on me. Because who is going to spend time with a person full of negative social behavior? Right, people with the same social incompetence.

So, learn from my foolishness, be honest with yourself, assess which of the following habits you are guilty of, and make a conscious effort to get rid of them. Every aspect of your life will profit from it.

1. Gossiping

The classic of all negative social behavior. Gossip is inherently interesting for most people. But you aren’t like most people. If you are reading this article I assume you want to become extraordinary. You want to become a man or woman who is being respected and admired for their outstanding social competence. And to achieve this goal, you should cut back on gossip. If not, then you better join all the others and let them fill you in on the latest drama.

Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.
-Marie Curie

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2. Exaggerating

I used to be guilty of exaggerating everything. Mainly, I did it to make my stories more interesting. What I didn’t know, however, was that constant exaggerating can destroy your self-esteem. The reason for it is, that every time you exaggerate a story, you tell yourself, “My life is not interesting enough.” And of course, eventually, others will start to doubt your credibility and think everything you say is exaggerated. Even if it isn’t.

3. Overpromising

“Next year, I will go on a trip to China and live there for a year.”

Statements like that can start interesting conversations. However, if you often make big bold statements and never follow through, you will soon be seen as merely a talker – a person who never takes action.

4. Not asking questions

The most common form of social incompetence is talking with someone, not investing anything back into the conversation.

Of course, you can’t be interested and fully involved in every single conversation. But in the vast majority, you should ask questions even if you believe the other person has nothing interesting to tell. You will often be surprised.

5. Badmouthing – talking trash about someone behind their back

Richard Branson’s mother had him stand in front of a mirror every time he talked negatively about someone. Branson writes in his biography that it was a valuable lesson for him.

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6. Talking endlessly about yourself

While being able to talk about yourself is important, it’s equally important not to overdo it. My rule of thumb: If you think you might be talking about yourself for too long, you almost definitely do.

7. Bragging

Not much to say here. Don’t do it! Humbleness is gold. If you find yourself bragging a lot, it could hint at a self-esteem problem. In that case, this poem might help you.

8. Taking over the conversation so you can talk about something that’s only interesting to you

Friend: “I don’t know how I can finish my studies without my parents’ supporting me.”

You: “You think you have got problems? When my cousin studied law, his parents…”

Everything can be twisted in a way that allows you to talk about topics that interest you. The problem is, you cut your conversational partner off, and chances are, the new direction you are taking isn’t going to interest anyone but you.

9. Unhelpful criticizing

Critique can be immensely helpful if it is given with actionable feedback. Unhelpful critique, on the other hand, hurts others and makes you an asshole.

Friend: “How do you like my poem.”

You: “It’s too long.”

Friend: “But you haven’t even read it yet!”

You: “I don’t have to. I can see that it’s too long.”

10. Interrupting

It’s fine if you do it because you didn’t understand something or when someone is rambling on and on and needs to be stopped. Otherwise, it’s rude.

In case you are the one who is constantly getting cut off: I have written a whole article on why people cut you off and how to stop it.

11. Using a friend as your emotional garbage bag

It’s perfectly fine to share your problems with a trusted friend. However, you have to mix the negative stuff with a boatload of positivity and an open ear. Otherwise, you are just dumping negativity on a friend so you can feel better. Not cool!

If you need someone to talk about how much you hate the world and everything inhabiting it, rather find a good therapist.

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12. Talking about people others don’t know

Conversations about people your conversational partners haven’t met or heard of are inherently uninteresting. Sure, sometimes a funny story about an estranged uncle can be hilarious, but more often than not, stories about people no one but you knows are tiring.

While this is not a severe problem, you should pay attention to it nonetheless if you want to develop great social skills.

13. Talking about topics that alienate others

E.g: When in a mixed group the guys are only talking about sports (and the women in the group don’t share their passion).

14. Constant complaining

“This restaurant sucks.”

“Why is everything here so expensive?”

“Can’t they get that we are in a fucked-up economy right now?”

Thanks for your opinion! You just made my day worse and I don’t want to hang out with you anymore.

15. Phone addiction

It sounds obvious but really isn’t: When you are in a conversation keep your phone in your pocket, rucksack, or wherever you store that thing! I know, the web is full of wonderful things you want to explore, but please wait until you are alone – which, ironically, is going to be sooner than you expect if you don’t put your phone away.


What social behaviors have you seen that annoyed you to no end? Share your favorites in the comments.

Oh, and make sure you also read my post 12 Action Oriented Tips That Will Instantly Raise Your Social Skills.

Thanks for reading!