As an imperfect yet ever-evolving being, I try to maintain self-insight and look for ways in which I could improve. After all, I’m thoughtful and stuff. Don’t let me mislead you– most of the time, those things are usually along the line of less shampoo, more SPF. But occasionally, I like to go a little deeper than that. And I think these five tendencies are something I need to work on eradicating. Maybe you do, too.
Saying “sorry” when you really mean “excuse me.” How is (sometimes awkwardly) moving through and existing in shared space deserving of an apology?! Apologizing for one of those weird I thought you were going this way, no I’ll go that way moments is a strange and submissive habit that says, “I am not worthy of accidentally standing in your way for two whole seconds. Forgive me.” No. Stop it.
Forcing or avoiding small talk. Small talk is, admittedly, not my thing. Most of the time. Some days, I’m perfectly willing to engage in this kind of communication, and other times, I’m just not in the mood. Both of these things are okay. There are mornings at work where I’ll happily chat with a co-worker about our weekends, and the very next day, I might not have more than a friendly “hello” for the same person. That’s fine– I don’t think you need to force conversation every time you’re faced with someone. (I’ve done that, too, and wanted to smack myself when I mumbled something incoherent for the sake of making noise at someone.) There are those who will ALWAYS want to chat, in which case it’s perfectly acceptable to keep your responses light and short. Not everyone is good at small talk, and not everyone likes it. But in professional situations especially, it’s important to maintain a friendly air about you, even if you have nothing to contribute besides a smile.
Giving a wishy-washy RSVP. As an introvert who doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, I am very guilty of this. Someone you don’t know very well invites you to a party where you won’t know anyone, a friend you haven’t seen in awhile calls you up last-minute for a get-together, or a buddy wants to go to a bar that you HATE. These are all circumstances where it’s okay to very clearly say, “No, thanks!” or, “Sorry, I can’t make it.” Sounds incredibly simple, yet many people make it so much more difficult than that. Not everyone is good at the whole Facebook invite thing– we shouldn’t assume everyone’s lives revolve around it– but otherwise, responding with, “Mayyybeee… I’ll let you know!” when you are already dead-set on not attending is just plain flaky. Of course, if you say no all the time, people will stop inviting you. I do think it’s good to go out of your comfort zone every now and then, or offer an alternative plan. But saying “no” on occasion so you can stay home and drink boxed wine? Totally okay.
Deflecting, or rejecting, compliments. I’ve seen this piece of advice floating around inspirational la-dee-da blogs about self-love and embracing your inner hoo-ha a fair amount, but it’s worth repeating. Because people don’t just hand out compliments out of obligation. They have to go out of their way to pronounce extra syllables and exert a fair amount of air to tell you that you look great/did a good job/are super thoughtful. When you respond with self-deprecation or throw back a half-hearted “No, you!”, it’s like saying, “You’re wrong, and I actually really suck.” Uncomfortable for all parties involved.
Living in your own bubble, on repeat. So easy to do. So easy to fix. Take a different route to work. Do something OTHER than partying every weekend. Actually make eye contact (and say hello?!) to the people you pass in the hallway. This last one, I swear, is a dying form of civility. People my age looks at me like I’m nuts if I smile and say hello… even if we’re the only two people in a room. Anyone over 60? They’re the first to say, “Morning!” We need to bring that back.
What would you add to this list? Are you guilty of any of these offenses?