Things You Do That Make Strangers Instantly Dislike You

Things You Do That Make Strangers Instantly Dislike You

We’ve all encountered the overly chatty stranger at the bus stop, or the person at the party who stands way too close. Ever wondered what NOT to do if you want to make a good first impression? Here are some of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) behaviors that can make people subtly back away.

1. You talk loudly on your phone in public spaces.

We don’t need to hear the details of your doctor’s appointment or your argument with your ex. Headphones exist for a reason! Forcing everyone to eavesdrop on your private life is rude and inconsiderate and, let’s be honest, a little attention-seeking. Being considerate of those around you starts with keeping your personal conversations… personal.

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2. You walk slowly and take up the whole sidewalk.

Sidewalks aren’t personal runways. Be aware of those around you, especially during rush hour or in crowded areas. If you need to spread out and stroll, maybe the park is a more appropriate venue. Nobody enjoys playing human Frogger just to navigate a basic walkway. Inconsiderate pedestrians are one of the biggest annoyances out there, Fodor’s points out, so try to be a bit more aware of your surroundings.

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3. You’re glued to your phone and oblivious to your surroundings.

Shocked young businesswoman checking time on wristwatch while talking mobile phone

Bumping into people, holding up lines because you’re scrolling, or nearly walking into traffic without looking up? It’s rude and a bit dangerous. The world can wait a moment; pay attention to where you’re going. Plus, you might miss something really cool happening right in front of you if your nose is always buried in your screen. As Health points out, phone addiction is a very real thing. If you really can’t separate from your device long enough to get where you’re going, you might need to seek professional help.

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4. You let your dog lunge and bark at everyone they pass.

Not everyone is an animal lover, and even those who are don’t appreciate your untrained dog invading their space. Being a responsible pet owner means controlling your dog in public, respecting others, and teaching them basic manners. A happy, well-behaved dog makes everyone’s day a little brighter—a barking, out-of-control one does the opposite.

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5. You don’t clean up after yourself in shared spaces.

Leaving trash at your movie theater seat, gym equipment dripping with sweat, or a messy table at a cafe? It shows that you think someone else is your personal maid. A little common courtesy goes a long way. Nobody wants to deal with the mess your lazy self left behind.

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6. You give unsolicited advice.

woman having a conversation with her mom

Whether it’s parenting tips to a struggling mom or workout suggestions to another gym-goer, it’s usually none of your business. Unless someone asks, keep your opinions to yourself – nobody likes a know-it-all. Remember, unsolicited advice is rarely appreciated, even if your intentions are good.

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7. You complain loudly and constantly.

We get it, the line is long, the weather sucks, life isn’t perfect. Subjecting everyone around you to your negativity is a major vibe killer. If you must vent, find a sympathetic friend, not a captive audience. There’s a difference between commiserating and turning into a vortex of bad energy.

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8. You’re overly touchy with people you don’t know well.

Some people are naturally affectionate, which is fine! But getting too hands-on with casual acquaintances can be uncomfortable. Respect people’s personal space, PsychCentral suggests; a handshake or a wave is usually safer than going in for a hug. Not everybody enjoys the same level of physical contact, and assuming they do is a recipe for awkwardness.

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9. You have terrible personal hygiene.

Skipping showers, wearing stinky clothes, or having seriously bad breath are a no-go. Basic self-care isn’t just about you; it shows consideration for those forced to be in close proximity. Those funky smells aren’t doing you any favors in the social department.

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10. You try to one-up everyone.

Nobody likes the guy who always has a better vacation story, a fancier car, or a more impressive job. It reeks of insecurity, not genuine connection. Practice letting others shine without turning it into a competition. Plus, think about it – you probably have cool stuff going on too, but nobody wants to hear about it when you act like that.

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11. You cut in line.

standing in a long line

Seriously? Everyone else is waiting their turn, and you think the rules don’t apply to you? Cutting in line is rude, childish, and a surefire way to earn some serious side-eye (or worse). Nobody likes that person, so don’t be that person.

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12. You brag about how busy you are.

Being stressed isn’t a badge of honor, it’s a sign you might need better time management or boundaries. Constantly complaining about your workload just sounds like humblebragging and makes people feel like their time is less valuable than yours. We all get busy sometimes, but nobody wants to hear about it all the time.

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13. You don’t offer to help when someone’s struggling.

couple busy with smartphones, talking to virtual friends and ignoring each other at park

See an elderly person with a heavy bag or someone about to drop something? Ignoring their obvious need for assistance shows a lack of basic empathy. A small act of kindness speaks volumes about your character. Think how you’d feel if it were you in their shoes – wouldn’t you appreciate a helping hand?

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14. You’re always late without apology.

Emergencies happen, but chronic lateness shows you don’t value other people’s time. A genuine apology goes a long way, but repeatedly making others wait makes you seem self-centered and disrespectful. Plus, it’s stressful for everyone involved – you don’t want to be the reason someone feels frazzled!

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15. You interrupt people constantly.

Not letting anyone finish a thought makes you seem like you only care about what you have to say. Learn to actively listen, it’s a way more attractive quality than steamrolling conversations. Besides, you might learn something new if you give other people a chance to talk!

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16. You stare at people.


Whether it’s because you find them attractive, odd, or anything in between, an aggressive stare is unsettling. If you’re curious, a friendly smile is a much better approach than making someone feel like a zoo exhibit. Remember, everyone deserves to feel comfortable just being themselves.

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17. You make comments about people’s bodies.

Commenting on weight loss, weight gain, or making any judgments about someone’s appearance is invasive and unnecessary. You have no idea what their health journey is or what struggles they might be facing – keep your opinions to yourself. Focusing on someone’s personality is always a better bet.

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18. You have no filter.

There’s a difference between being honest and being needlessly hurtful. Blurting out whatever pops into your head without considering how it lands on others shows a lack of tact and social intelligence. Think before you speak – your words can have a bigger impact than you realize.

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Josh grew up in Connecticut and thought he could never be happier away from big bodies of water until he moved to Minneapolis and fell in love with it. He writes full-time, with his lifestyle content being published in the likes of Men's Health, Business Insider, and many more. When he's not writing, he likes running (but not enough to train for a marathon even though his buddy won't stop asking him).