Get Rid of Your Annoying Mannerisms | TechWell

Get Rid of Your Annoying Mannerisms

We all have mannerisms: things we say or do that are harmless but that might annoy others. I was once on a plane talking with a seatmate who pulled on her nose as she spoke. Really. Every few seconds, another pull. I thought it would come off in her hand. I finally had to discontinue the conversation; her nose-yanking was too disconcerting. Apparently, no one had ever clued her in so she was unaware of this annoying behavior. And the problem with a mannerism like this one is that we may not know we’re doing it until someone tells us.

Other potentially annoying physical mannerisms (to name just a few) include cracking your knuckles, adjusting your glasses, twisting your hair, playing with rubber bands, gesticulating wildly as if you’re on fire, jiggling coins in your pocket, pacing back and forth, twirling a pen, and scratching… but let’s not go there. I bet you can add several to this list. Oh, by the way, if you’re going to talk to me, don’t cover your mouth with your hand as if you’re trying to keep the words from escaping. I find it very annoying.

And then there are vocal mannerisms or affectations in the way people speak. Some people stuff their sentences with “like,” “um,” “uh,” and “y’know.” These patterns of speech are known as pause fillers, and interestingly, they exist in every language. The book Um: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean points out that we each have a pattern of “um” frequency and usage. Some people say “um” within a sentence, some say “um” between sentences, some say “um” a little, some a lot, some not at all.

Vocal mannerisms include mumbling, as well as speaking too quietly, too loudly, or waytoofast. Also on the list of low-hanging fruit are clichés. Using an occasional cliché is fine. It’s when you’re constantly shooting fish in a barrel, airing dirty laundry, getting your foot in the door, or any of thousands of other clichés that it becomes annoying.

Being human means occasionally saying or doing things that might annoy your co-workers or customers. Fortunately, most such annoyances are things we can easily avoid once we become aware of them. So ask a trusted colleague to let you know if you exhibit any annoying mannerisms, or have a coach or mentor give you feedback. And whenever you talk with someone whose mannerisms annoy you, think about whether you ever do the same. If you do, take steps to, like, um, avoid doing it, y'know?

Up Next

About the Author

TechWell Insights To Go

(* Required fields)

Get the latest stories delivered to your inbox every month.