This Is a Surefire Sign Other People Find You Annoying, Experts Say
Here's your master class in taking a hint.
Everyone has annoying traits, whether you sing along to every song on the radio or insist upon keeping "Cotton Eye Joe" as your ringtone. And while some people are comfortable letting you know just how grating they find your behavior, there's one surefire sign that people find you annoying, according to experts—and it's one you're probably not picking up on, either.
"If you notice that the person's shoulders or feet turn away from you or they look down at the floor (or their phone), it's a sign that they're trying to escape the moment," says licensed clinical psychologist Jamie Long, Psy.D.
However, Long says it's also possible that "the topic of conversation got too intense, too one-sided, or is just taking way too long to finish." Either way, it's important to try to ascertain their comfort level and switch gears if need be. That's not the only way you may be putting others off, though—read on to discover signs you may be annoying other people without realizing it. And for more behaviors to nip in the bud, check out these 50 Things You Do Every Day That Annoy Other People.
You always steer conversations back to you.
If anyone's ever accused you of making conversations about yourself, it's likely you're bothering others with this behavior on a regular basis.
"Rude individuals have a way of hijacking conversations to make it all about them, their opinions, or what they want," explains Long. If you've been on the receiving end of this complaint, "Focus on a gentle tone, listening more, and interrupting less," she recommends. And if you want to avoid future faux, pas, check out these 13 Signs People Think You're Rude and You Don't Know It.
Most of your conversations are vent sessions.
It may feel great to get out something that's been weighing on you, but if all of your conversations seem to turn into vent sessions, that can easily rub others the wrong way.
"We all vent and it's easy to do it too much," says Long. Her recommendation? "Use the 80/20 rule by focusing on positive, light-hearted subjects 80 percent of the time and reserve venting or more emotionally taxing conversations to 20 percent of the time."
You can feel the energy change in a room when you enter.
If the mood suddenly changes the second you set foot in a room, this may be a sign that your pas behavior has made your presence unwelcome.
"You might be annoying people or coming across as rude if you enter a room of laughing and smiling individuals who suddenly become quiet soon after you come around," says Long, who notes that this may also be a sign that your energy doesn't mix well with the people with whom you keep company. And for more great stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Your conversations are full of awkward silences.
Everyone runs out of topics of conversation from time to time, but it becomes worrisome if it seems to happen every time you talk.
"If after you are speaking, people tend to have an awkward silence, look at one another, or abruptly change the subject, especially if this happens to your often, then you can almost bet that you have said something that rubbed them the wrong way," says national certified counselor Sophia Reed, Ph.D. And if you want to avoid an awkward lull, This Is the Rudest Thing You Can Ask Someone, Etiquette Experts Say.
Their pupils constrict.
Want to know if you're annoying someone? A little eye contact will clue you in.
If their pupils constrict, it's a good sign you are. "This is what happens when people are angry or irritated and blood pressure rises—you can truly see it in their eyes!" says psychotherapist Stephanie Newman, Ph.D. And if you want to sidestep a major etiquette error, This Is the Rudest Thing You're Doing All the Time Without Knowing It.
Their voice gets louder.
As someone's level of frustration rises, so will the volume of their voice.
"We often raise our volume in an attempt to be heard because we feel that our previous attempt was unsuccessful," explains psychologist Dustin Weissman, Psy.D. Weissman says that this is often something people learned in childhood "when parents raise their voice in warning or frustration with their children for not following rules." And if you want to avoid making a major mistake at work, This Is the Rudest Thing You're Doing on Video Calls, Experts Say.
They sigh. A lot.
A sigh isn't just a sigh, at least according to researchers out of Norway, who found in a 2008 study that people tend to sigh when they're in a negative mood.
"Exhaling with emphasis is usually released when we are annoyed or bothered by something or someone. If you are noticing people around you are responding to you with a sigh, this is often an indicator that they find you annoying or rude," says licensed psychotherapist/psychoanalyst Babita Spinelli, owner of Opening the Doors Psychotherapy.
You hear about parties after the fact.
Just learning that everyone you know was at the "party of the year" last weekend? It might've just been an accident, especially if the host insists they "totally emailed you an invite." But if it happens more than once, you might be getting left off the guest list for a reason.
"If you're getting [fewer] invitations to socialize or people aren't getting back to you, these folks might be avoiding you," says Long. While she notes that there are other reasons this might be happening, "It's important to ask yourself if it's possible that people aren't enjoying your company."
Friends have stopped calling, emailing, or texting you back.
An unreturned phone call is one thing. A missed email response or two, hey, it happens. But when you can't even get a text reply out of them anymore, it might be time to admit that you're no longer on their shortlist of close confidantes.
They're avoiding your personal space.
In general, it's a good thing if somebody isn't getting so close that you feel like your personal space is being invaded. But it can work the other way as well. If they're noticeably moving away from you if you try to get too close, or maintaining such a larger-than-usual distance from you that it starts to feel weird, this could be a subconscious signal. When you take one step forward and they take one step back, they're telling you, "Back off, buster!"
Nobody argues with you. Ever.
You only fight with the ones you love. That may not make much sense in theory, but there's more truth there than you realize. If somebody argues with you, it's because they legitimately care about your opinions and want to change your perspective. If people you consider your friends never push back and argue with you, even when you know that they know you're wrong, that likely means they've given up on you.
You're never in group photos on social media.
Yes, most of what's on social media is fake. As countless studies have shown, people tend to present a socially desirable reflection of themselves on sites like Facebook and Instagram. It may not be the reality, but it's the reality they want to present to the world. And if you're not included in any of it, well, that's a bad sign.
You go in for the hug, they go for the handshake.
The physical touch of another human being causes our levels of oxytocin to rise, which reduces fear and increases trust, generosity, and empathy. Refusing that contact, or insisting on the least-possible level of physical interaction, can only mean that someone is not ready or willing to feel that level of empathy and trust with you.
They avoid eye contact.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "The eyes of men converse as much as their tongues." So if someone is looking anywhere but at you, chances are they'd rather be anywhere but with you.
They cross their arms whenever you're talking.
It's a classic gesture of defensiveness, a way of creating a barrier between you and something (or someone) you don't particularly care for. It's the opposite of opening and welcoming. It's saying, "No. Stay away. Whatever you're saying right now, I don't want to hear it."
They answer a phone call while you're in the middle of a sentence.
It's possible they're just a self-centered jerk who doesn't realize what a social faux pas this is. Or, you might be being the insufferable jerk so they're answering a phone call while you're talking because they just can't with you anymore.
They don't ask you personal questions.
We all love talking about ourselves. That's just a given, right? And when people pry us to reveal more about ourselves, or ask follow-up questions, we tend to like them more—at least according to Harvard researchers. But when they avoid asking anything even remotely personal about you, that's a pretty big indication that you're not in the company of someone hoping for a long-term friendship with you.