We all want to get invitations to social gatherings. Yes, we may decide not to accept invitations but there is much comfort in being among those invited. After all, even the most introverted and socially anxious among us still want to feel included. All throughout life we struggle to be accepted, included and ultimately invited. Despite that, many among us continue to engage, way too frequently, in behaviors that are simply too annoying, too aversive and way too boring to others. And, these sorts of behaviors will certainly get one removed from many guest lists. So what are these behaviors that lead others to see you as a drag, an energy depleter and as less than enjoyable company? Let me help you identify these behaviors as you face a new year and a new set of events and invitations or a lack of invitations.
This is not an exclusive list but I am certain that it is a good way to help you start thinking about how your behavior impacts others. Here are 5 types of common behavior that you must consider if you want others to include you.
1. Do not talk about yourself endlessly. We all know that person who goes on endlessly about his life without giving you even a moment to say a word. This sort of person is a monologuer and appears to not even care if his partner in conversation is interested, listening or engaged. The monologuer may be bragging, complaining or just simply discussing the details of a recent event in his life with an emphasis on what is going on in his life only. This sort of behavior may be motivated by narcissism, loneliness or perhaps a lack of empathy. Regardless, the monologuer is not someone who anyone wants to be seated next to, correct?
2. Please put your phone away. No one wants to have dinner with you while you are spending time on your phone. Everyone wants to be attended to. Your phone will be available to you after dinner, the party etc. Keep in mind that you send the message that you have no interest in the person sitting next to you if you are staring at your phone. When you are with someone they should be getting your attention. Please take note here.
3. Remember to put energy into your interactions. Act interested in those around you. Ask about their opinions, interests and lives. I am not suggesting that you pry or get too personal too quickly. I am suggesting instead that you act curious. You will be rewarded in many ways for your vitality and interest. Your conversations will be more fun as they are more interactive. As you learn about others you actually learn more about yourself. Try it. Your social circle may expand.
4. Consider who your audience is. In other words, know your audience before you start oversharing. A good friend may be interested in the details of your relationships, emotional issues and perspective on a variety of other personal topics. A new acquaintance may, however, be put off by this sort of disclosure. Conversation should be characterized mostly by reciprocity. If you share intimate details of your life your audience may feel that this is the expectation for her. In other words, think before speaking. Ask yourself how well you know the person who you are about to start disclosing to. Also, take note of how your audience is reacting to the conversation. If they are silent and inching away those are signs that you may need to shift the conversation and save the details for your next therapy session or morning walk with your closest friend.
5. Try very hard to strike the right tone. Sometimes it makes sense to be serious and at other times a well-placed bit of levity makes more sense. Pay attention to the conversation and be responsive with your words and tone. You do not need to insert humor where it doesn’t belong even if you have some good jokes up your sleeve. The former class clown can become very boring in the middle of an invigorating adult conversation. Similarly, being too intensely serious can also put people off. I am not suggesting that you handle every interaction perfectly. I am suggesting instead that you bring a high level of care and mindfulness to your interactions.
Happy New Year!