Stephanie Tanner speaks the truth. (Photo: ABC/Yahoo Health)
Despite our best intentions to be courteous and polite to co-workers, friends, or even a date, sometimes the things we say or do just seem rude. Sure, you might not mean it that way. But especially in a tech-fueled world, it’s easy for our true message to get lost in translation.
If you ever wonder why you’re getting the stink eye for (what you think is) absolutely nothing, you may be guilty of these subtle actions that come off as rude, even when your intentions are completely pure.
You’re ending texts with periods.
Grammatically correct… or just rude? (Photo: Yahoo Health/Getty)
You may just be a grammar nerd who does not believe that all sentences should end with exclamation points (!), but a new study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior shows that when you end texts with a period, you seem less sincere. Without the social cues gathered from face-to-face conversation, interpreting someone’s tone via text can be near-impossible. Maybe try replying with emoji?
You’re thinking about your reply before the other person finishes speaking.
We could all benefit from practicing a little more active listening. (Photo: Yahoo Health/Getty Images)
“When you listen to someone, you should be listening,” Nick Morgan, body language expert and president of Public Words Inc., tells Yahoo Health. “To do anything else is rude.” Thinking about what you’re going to say instead of really focusing on the other person’s words stops you from responding accurately to them, and a pre-rehearsed answer (in your head) says you weren’t truly listening. It says what you have to say is way more important.
You’re not making enough eye contact … or you’re making too much.
When it comes to eye contact, it’s all about finding the happy medium. (Photo: Getty Images)
The biggest sign you’re engaged in a convo is if you’re making eye contact — which is why it’s usually the first thing we learn about body language. One study found that adults maintain eye contact a lot less than we should, which not only prevents us from making a real connection, but also sends the message that we’re not giving our undivided attention. But too much eye contact can come across as intense, dominating, or even condescending. Morgan explains that it’s equally as rude to have your eyes fixed “when actually nobody’s home up there listening.” Most people will pick up on that, especially if they know you well.
You’re checking your phone mid-conversation.
Another side effect: Text neck. (Photo: Getty Images)
We’re all glued to our phones these days, but checking your latest text message when you’re speaking with someone else in person is just plain rude. It’s a classic example of breaking eye contact, which sends a message that you’re not engaged anymore. “Anything that takes you away from that full eye contact [seems rude],” says Morgan.
You cross your arms in front of your body.
It may feel comfy, but it’s not a good look. (Photo: Getty Images)
“You can’t listen to somebody effectively with your arms folded across your chest,” Morgan says. “Maybe you’re just freezing and are looking for warmth.” Doesn’t matter — it still says “I’m not listening to you.” Crossing your arms, or even holding your hands in front of your body, is a signal of a fight-or-flight response — you’re ready to fight. To the person you’re chatting with, it’s a subtle sign you’re not open, relaxed, or attentive.
You tilt your head back in surprise.
A subtle sign — but one that others can pick up on. (Photo: Getty Images)
This is another really subtle one. “Pulling the head back half an inch indicates surprise, that you don’t like something, or something is inappropriate,” Morgan notes. “We move away from things we don’t like and toward things we do like. The movement is so small we don’t realize it, but other people do.”
You hold your hands behind your head.
Even if you’re physically “there,” doing this makes it seem like you’re not engaged. (Photo: Getty Images)
This is a sign that you’re withdrawing from the scene around you. Classic example: A CEO in a meeting leans back in his chair and interlaces his hands behind his head. In actuality, he may just be sitting back and letting his very capable VPs take charge — but the action conveys he’s dipping out of the conversation and saying “This isn’t my problem.” He may still be “there,” but he’s not an active participant.
This action shows that “you may be intending something positive, but [people around you will] experience it as bored and not involved anymore,” Morgan says.
You’re bad at remembering names.
Stop chalking it up to having a “bad memory”! (Photo: Yahoo Health)
You may really, truly believe that your memory is just subpar, but forgetting someone’s name makes them feel so unimportant that you didn’t bother to remember them. And telling people you’re bad at remembering names (a classic excuse) can give the impression that you just don’t care enough about other people to make the effort. According to many psychology experts, it’s your lack of interest that makes you forget — not your brain’s fault. Ditching the notion that you can’t control it and making a solid effort to really listen can make all the difference. You can also try some little tricks such as repeating the name back throughout the encounter, jotting down quick notes (secretly) right after, or associating the person with someone else you know with the same name.
Your emails are a little too short and to-the-point.
Brevity is great … until you seem mean. (Photo: Getty Images)
Even if getting to the meat of the message quickly and efficiently is the goal, leaving out any sort of emotional subtext can make your email seem rude, Morgan explains. “The way to succeed in email is to imagine what kind of facial expressions and gestures you would make if you were conveying your message in person — and then add words to describe the emotions suggested by those gestures.” For example, instead of just saying, “I don’t like that idea” to refer to one part of a huge project, state what you did like and that you’re excited to see what else your co-worker comes up with. Without the face-to-face cues, getting a little wordier can make a world of difference in whether your message comes across as cordial or rude.
For more ways you’re probably being rude without meaning to, watch the Buzzfeed video below:
Read This Next: Do You Have the 6 Traits That Make Someone Magnetic?