October 31, 2023 | Miles Brucker

Reputation Savers: 10 Common Blunders to Be Aware Of

Social Habits That Make You Look Stupid

Confused man and woman split image

We've all had those cringe-worthy moments where we've said or done something and immediately thought, "Why did I do that?!" It happens to the best of us. 

But some behaviors are notorious for making people look less intelligent or aware than they truly are. Understanding these can help us navigate social situations with greater finesse. 

Let's dig into 10 such behaviors, supported by some interesting stats. 

Overusing Fillers in Speech

Shocked annoyed woman on a date sitting on a chair in caféEkateryna Zubal, Shutterstock

Words like "um", "like", "you know", and "uh" are common fillers in conversations. While they may seem harmless, overusing them can give an impression of uncertainty or unpreparedness.

A study by the University of Texas found that excessive filler words can damage credibility and make the speaker seem less competent.

Not Listening Actively

They Can Never Get Over factsShutterstock

Active listening involves fully concentrating, understanding, and responding to what someone is saying. When we're distracted or dismissive, it's evident.

According to a Harvard Business Review report, good listeners positively influence the speaker and foster trust and openness.

Constantly Checking Your Phone

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Nothing says "I'm not present" more than incessantly checking your phone during meetings or social gatherings.

A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that "phubbing" (phone snubbing) significantly impacts relationship satisfaction.

Spreading False Information

Best Friends For NeverShutterstock

In the age of instant information, sharing something without verifying can backfire. A MIT study found that false news travels six times faster on Twitter than the truth.

Taking a moment to fact-check can save face and credibility.

Jumping to Conclusions

Failed ProposalsShutterstock

Making hasty judgments or decisions without complete information can lead to inaccuracies. Taking the time to gather all relevant information before forming an opinion is crucial.

The National Communication Association notes that snap judgments often result from cognitive biases.

Being a Know-It-All

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Confidence is good; overconfidence, not so much. A series of experiments in the Psychological Science journal found that individuals who overestimate their cognitive abilities are seen as less knowledgeable by their peers.

Not Asking Questions

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Contrary to popular belief, asking questions doesn't display ignorance. In fact, a Harvard study found that people who ask questions, especially follow-up questions, are seen as more likable.

Frequent Complaining

Lacked Any Self-Awareness factsShutterstock

While venting occasionally is healthy, constant negativity can be draining for listeners. According to a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, chronic complainers are often viewed as less leader-like and less competent.

Using Complex Words Unnecessarily

Young confused girl looking at cameraHappy Together, Shutterstock

Using big words to sound smart can have the opposite effect. A study in Applied Cognitive Psychology showed that individuals using simpler language were rated as more intelligent than those using complex vocabulary without clear context.

Avoiding Eye Contact

How We Met factsShutterstock

Consistent eye contact is a strong indicator of confidence and sincerity. A study from Brandeis University found that avoiding eye contact can make you seem untrustworthy or uninterested.

Final Thoughts

Wedding guests are socializing at a wedding partyDGLimages, Shutterstock

While everyone has moments of slip-ups, being aware of these common behaviors can help us present our best selves to the world.

At the end of the day, genuine interactions, active listening, and humility go a long way in building meaningful connections.


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