It’s the New Year! And with it, a laundry list of self-improvement strategies for the coming months: getting in shape, saving money, traveling more ...
But what about being a better person in general? Thanking people. Waiting your turn. Disposing of those little wildly environmentally-unconscious Keurig cartridges when you’re done with them. You know: the little things. The ones we all tend to overlook from time to time.
What follows: 10 innocuous habits you may or may not have but definitely shouldn’t (have). Because no matter how aware of personal P and Q you claim to be, we all unwittingly piss people off from time to time.
The good news? With a little reflection and action, they’re all reversible.
Ye ol’ verbal steamroll. You may think it’s no big deal, that you time your interjections just right. But chances are you don’t, and people notice. Also: frequently forgetting names or asking people to repeat themselves because your attention was divided. Conversation is an art; your technique matters.
2. Dropping by unannounced
You know that feeling of being totally put on the spot? The pressure of someone looking to you for an answer you just don’t have? That’s what it feels like when a guest you weren’t expecting drops by, and no one wants to feel that that. So call first, will ya?
3. Leaving your dishes in the sink
“I’ll do it later,” you say. But then you don’t. And someone else does. Even though you have a dishwasher and literally the only thing you had to do was exert enough energy to move a plate three-and-a-half feet.
4. Being rude to the service industry
Maybe you’re in a rush. Maybe they messed up your order. Maybe they are fallible, imperfect, unique and snowflake-y humans just like you. So speak with respect, remember that other people missed their bus and got scolded by their wife/husband/child/landlord this morning, and take a breath. If nothing else, think of your blood pressure.
5. Excessively talking about yourself
If you catch a moment where you realize you haven’t heard anyone else’s voice in awhile, it’s time to sit back and zip it. Yes, your stories are killer. But you’ve also told the same one 12 times this month. Learn some new ones.
6. Ending your texts with a period
Seems harmless enough, but science says that people tend to view texters who end their messages with periods as being terrible and heartless. Remember two things here: 1) Tone is easily lost or misinterpreted on the screen so keep your message clear, and 2) The language of texting is super mutable (and can be expressed entirely in pictographs if you’re so inclined), so it doesn’t call for the same grammatical rigidity that, say, an email might.
Don’t be the friend who, when posed with the questions “Where should we eat?” or “What do you want to do?” invariably shrugs and mutters “I dunno.” Think, consult your inner desires and offer an opinion.
8. Eating on public transit
Don’t care if it’s the best slice around, no one wants to smell extra smells on their commute.
9. Not making eye contact in conversation
It’s unsettling and frankly makes you seem distracted and bored. Pretend to give a damn.
10. Unmindful commuters
City dwellers take heed: the entrance to the transit station is not the place to rummage for your fare. You’re bottlenecking a crowd of very busy people, so don’t be surprised if you catch some angry muttering. And when you’re en route, don’t lean on people! And take your backpack off (and don’t put it on the seat). And keep your voice down, especially if it's early. Yes there are a lot of rules, but it’s a delicate dance we perform each day. (Oh and please stay to the right on sidewalks.) (Thank you.)