Humans are social creatures. And though men tend to be more solitary and less talkative than our female counterparts, we still rise and fall based on our ability to mix and mingle with others.
Getting invited out with friends, being offered a promotion at work, having sex: These are all things that won’t happen to you very often if you can’t socialize effectively.
Whether you’re talking up a cute girl or taking lunch with some colleagues, you always want to put your best foot forward, and that means more than telling a funny joke. We’ve put together a list of the top 10 social tics to avoid, because men aren’t always conscious of all the ways they can screw up while interacting socially. Body language is important, as is actual language used and the direction in which your eyes are focused. So check out this list to see if you’re guilty of any of these top 10 social tics to avoid.
1. Cracking knuckles
Nobody really needs to crack their knuckles. Your mother was right. It’s a nasty habit, but the thing about habits is that they’re meant to be broken (yes, just like rules). Like all of our top 10 social tics to avoid, with a little willpower and a little concentration, you can stop whenever you want. It’s not that cracking your knuckles is all that bad for you; it’s just that for some people, the sound is like nails on a chalkboard, and you never know when you’re in the company of one of those people. Better safe than sorry.
2. Picking at your body
When some guys are nervous, they get twitchy. They scratch their noses every two seconds or repeatedly run their fingers through their hair. Constantly touching and adjusting yourself shows that you’re nervous. It can even gross some people out. So keep your hands under control. It’s important to seem steady and relaxed.
3. Apologizing unnecessarily
It’s good to be polite, bad to be a pushover, and it’s just plain weird to be one of those guys who apologizes every time he opens his mouth, either for mishearing something, forgetting a minor detail of someone’s story or for telling a joke. Apologizing unnecessarily is yet another social tic to avoid. When you bump into someone, you should apologize. When someone bumps into you, don’t.
4. Excessive touching
The occasional pat on the back or hand on the shoulder is OK, but, as a general rule, keep touching to a minimum. You don’t want to be the “touchy-feely” guy, especially with women — it creeps them out. People are sensitive about their personal space, some more than others. You need to get to know somebody a bit before throwing your arms around them. Use this as a guideline: If you initiate contact with a woman, and she disengages, that’s it. Take the hint. Don’t touch her again until she touches you.
5. Interrupting people
We all like to be the center of attention. But it’s important to recognize that there is a good center of attention and bad center of attention. It’s good to be charismatic, funny, and engaging. It’s bad to interrupt and talk over people. Interrupting people is rude, and it makes you look like an ass. That’s why it’s on our list of the top 10 social tics to avoid. Wait for an acceptable opening before speaking. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard to get noticed.
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6. The jitters
You know that vibrating leg thing you do sometimes when you’re uncomfortable or waiting impatiently? That thing where your leg gyrates like a coin-operated washing machine, subtly shaking everything within a five-foot radius? Don’t do that thing. You are not a dog, and no one is rubbing your belly — at least we hope not. No guy gets the jitters when he’s calm and relaxed, so when you do it, you’re essentially telling the world that you’re on edge… or a dog. Neither is good.
7. Shifty eyes
Shifty eyes comprise another social tic to avoid. When engaging someone in conversation, your eyes communicate almost as much as your mouth does. Try to keep your eyes from darting back and forth uncontrollably. We know it can sometimes be intimidating to maintain eye contact with a pretty girl, but constantly scanning the room like you're waiting for the Navy SEALs to bust in makes you look shifty. If you’re talking to a woman, it’s especially important to keep your eyes in check. Specifically, don’t let them roam too much. When you check out the blonde in the next booth over, she notices — “she” being your date and not the blonde. And when you glance at her cleavage, she notices that too.
We all do it, but if you find yourself using words such as “uh,” “um” and “like” excessively – uh, like, twice a sentence — you need to stop. You’re probably just talking too quickly. Think before you speak. Waiting an extra split-second before you open your mouth will make you seem more articulate. And take a breath. Great public speakers talk slowly and deliberately. Speak at a more measured pace, and you’ll have an easier time holding people’s attention.
Sometimes a well-placed swearword can really get the point across. Sometimes it adds a bit of sauce to a joke or humor to an anecdote, but you have to be careful with salty language. Not everyone uses it, and some people are offended by it. As a general rule, don’t swear unless the person you’re talking to swears first. Don’t swear in the company of people you don’t know well. Be especially careful around women. There’s still something to be said about watching your mouth in front of a lady.
10. Glancing at your phone
Despite what you’ve heard, you don’t actually need to be connected to your entire social network 24/7. Constantly glancing at your phone is the most infuriating social tic of the 21st century. Are you really so important that you need to be on call at all times? Take a break from your Blackberry and have a real-life conversation. When meeting someone new, either turn off your phone or risk turning them off for good. If you want, you can even plainly show that you’re turning it off. Whoever you’re with will be flattered by your show of undivided attention.