Being misunderstood sucks! The worst part is we often don’t realize why our good intent is not coming across loud and clear. Do you know the everyday habits that cause people to form inaccurate, even negative opinions of you? Can you identify your behaviors that annoy others? Are you repulsing your team instead of engaging?
I speak and mentor on how to turn annoying situations into amazing experiences, especially in the workplace. Coaching managers over and over again, three distinct patterns repeat themselves. The complaints, the explanations come in different forms, but they boil down to these annoying workplace habits:
Most of us live with some level of anxiety, especially when we want to do a good job. We’re not really aware of how this shows up to other people. We think we’re covering it up. When I am eager to please, I talk too fast, too loud, or too much. In reality, it shows up as an annoying habit.
For overachievers, it usually takes the form of micro-management. Habits such as being aggressive, only wanting things your way, and hovering over your direct reports run rampant. Really you just want to be appreciated and of service, but to others you appear inflexible, tough, controlling. Not fun for others.
For those who are frightened of not being good enough, it shows up as needing constant reassurance. The habit is asking the same question over and over again. It makes others think you are insecure. Your friends or coworkers, or even your boss feel that you are continually saying the same thing over and over. You don’t hear yourself and it’s frustrating to them.
It is important to pay attention to how you’re being perceived. The vibe you give off has a direct impact on advancing your career and your personal goals. Nobody and I mean nobody, wants to be around an annoying person. Take it from someone who thought she was being helpful, although I couldn’t help hammering points home, again and again. Being anxious, controlling, and insecure gives mixed signals. Instead of making people more sympathetic to you, it turns them off.
What can you do right now?
1. Be Aware.
Follow this analogy. Body Dysmorphia is a disease where a person doesn’t see their physical self as they exist in reality. This article on Bustle explains that it’s a much deeper issue. Consider that you may have “Workplace Dysmorphia” and not see your actions clearly in business situations. Sometimes, I overwhelm people with my excitement. I didn’t see that my enthusiasm could be a turn-off. To start to change, I had to be aware that I did not see my habits as they appear to others. Do you know how your behaviors appear to others?
2. Breathe and Take a Moment.
This is always good advice whether you are entering a team meeting, an annual review or bungee jumping off of a cliff. Take a moment, to breathe in success, breathe out fear, and ground yourself.
Not necessarily for the behavior, but for the impact it has on others. Tied together with awareness, you can tell when someone is not responding in a positive way to you. At that moment say, “I’m sorry if we are not connecting right now” or “I see we are not on the same page right now”. Or the line I often need to use is: “I know my ideas are overwhelming, let’s start again.” This will change the dynamic right away.
4. Ask for Help
From a friend or colleague you respect. From your HR department, or from your mother. Email me! Ask others for information about how you come across and what would help you to be better heard and understood.
5. Replace it
The key to changing your behavior is to replace it with different behavior. For example, if you ask the same questions over and over, ask something else. I tend to interrupt others when they speak (my most annoying habit). Instead of talking over them, I write down what I want to say, on a piece of paper or in my computer notes. And then I hold it. It takes a lot more focus than blurting it out. I have to really pay attention to not talking. Now that’s a skill. What about repeating yourself? I do this, try this trick when you don’t want to repeat yourself. After I have said it once, hopefully, inserted at the perfect place in the conversation, I count to 100 in my head silently, before I speak again. And no, I don’t count by tens, it’s a classic one-Mississippi count for a long minute and a half. By then I can usually let go of it. Replacing my urge to interrupt.
Find a new behavior that doesn’t annoy others. Take responsibility for your actions. Understand that others may not grasp your intent. Adjust your behaviors and see what happens. What will you change today?