7 Things You Need to Stop Doing

03/04/2015 05:36 pm ET | Updated May 04, 2015

I talk a lot about all the things you should do to be more memorable, charismatic and influential.


I write about starting, learning and beginning new habits and behaviors. Some of my favorites:

But in this post I want to write about what we all need to STOP doing to be better with people; the habits, behaviors and actions we need to curtail if we want to build connection.

I have been 100 percent guilty of every item on this list at some point. In fact, I made this list from my own "Behavior File." I'm a science geek with high neuroticism and love keeping logs, lists and directories of any kind. My Behavior File is a list of behaviors I have tried, attempted, adopted and failed at so I can learn from my previous mistakes.

Here are the behaviors that we all need to stop. Tweet me your guilty behavior so I don't feel like I'm the only one!

1. Stop Looking for Validation

You are worthy. You are awesome. You are fantastic. And deep down, you know it! Stop looking for validation from other people.

  • Why? It doesn't work. If you don't feel worthy on the inside nothing on the outside will truly help. Look for ways to feel validated by your own actions, not by other's words.

2. Stop Apologizing For Who You Are

Apologies are important. And you should always apologize for what you've done, but you should never apologize for who you are. Don't apologize for sharing your opinion. Don't apologize for being authentic. And certainly don't apologize for being yourself. I used to say, "I'm sorry I love science" before sharing a relevant scientific study. Someone called me on it once by saying something like, "Don't apologize for loving science, own it!" She was right. Now it's your turn.

  • Why? When you stop apologizing you start owning your opinions, beliefs and voice. For the next week, count all of the times you apologize unnecessarily. Examine the circumstances. Are you really sorry? Or are you just afraid?

3. Stop One-Upping

That's a funny story, but here's a funnier one! That's a great idea, but here's a better one. Your smart, I'm smarter! One-upping is when you take someone's idea and tell them how you did it better, smarter or longer than them.

  • Why? Nothing takes the wind out of someone's sails faster than a one-upper. Your one-upped story DOESN'T make you seem more impressive, it only makes you seem like a show-off--I know you don't mean it that way, but that's how it comes across.

4. Stop Exaggerating

I almost called this one, "Stop Lying," but think that exaggeration is a more accurate behavior for most people. Harmless exaggerating for the sake of a good story isn't what I am talking about here. I'm talking about stirring up gossip, worrying people or creating drama.

  • Why? Gossip gives us power. There is a reason why so many people gossip. It feels good to be in the know. But exaggeration and gossip is one of the most inauthentic ways to interact because you are creating drama for yourself and others. One day my husband told me that I exaggerate too much. This happened right after I told him that, "The lack of organic produce in our local super market is killing me." He was like, "Really? Is it killing you? Should I call an ambulance?" Point taken. Here's my credo: Speak accurately, lie less, stop gossiping.

5. Stop Pre-Qualifying

I know this might not be important, but...I'm not sure if this is right, but...How many times have you been in a meeting or a classroom and someone raises their hand to answer but spends the first 10 seconds pre-qualifying their answer? This happens when we are nervous that whatever we are going to say isn't going to be good enough.

  • Why? Not only does this diminish your idea (see #2 Apologizing), but it also cues others not to listen to your valuable opinion. This is bold, but here is the rule I have for myself that I hope you will consider implementing:
  • If you have to say a pre-qualifier, don't say anything at all. If you are so nervous that you can't own your answer then maybe it isn't ready to be shared!

6. Stop One-Downing

If you think that's bad, wait until you hear what happened to me! Have you ever shared some bad news or difficulty with someone and then they pounce with their own "even worse" story. One-downing is the flip side to one-upping and it SUCKS! If someone had a hard day, let them have their hard day and show them empathy.

  • Why? When you one-down someone you are dismissing their feelings. You are dismissing their needs. You are dismissing them as a person. Not only does this make them feel terrible, you also miss a connection opportunity with them--instead of feeling bad for you they feel bad for themselves because you brushed off something that mattered to them.
  • Special Note: Sometimes people think that by sharing their hardships they make the person feel like they are not alone. This is true to a certain extent, but there is a difference between commiserating and one-downing. You can tell someone you know how they feel, but don't tell them that your feelings are more/worse/more notable.

7. Stop Pretending

You don't need to pretend to be anyone you're not. Ask yourself if you ever pretend to be something you're not. Is it around certain people? What places trigger you to feel less than? Figure out why you don't feel that you are enough. Get rid of the triggers. Stop going to the places that make you feel like you have to pretend. Decide to own who you are.

  • Why? When you show up owning who you are, people respect you and your authenticity shines through. When you pretend to be something you're not, you miss out on the opportunity to genuinely connect with another person.

Why do we engage in these behaviors? It all comes down to self-worth. When we feel we are not worthy of love, attention and connection, we one-up to prove ourselves, pretend to be something we are not or fish for compliments. I'm here to tell you that you are worthy--you just have to figure out why. So, here's my challenge for you:

Write down 10 things that you are most proud of.

These can be skills, attributes, past events or things in your life. The qualities, successes and things in your life that you are most proud of are where you get your inner worth. Look at this list and own it. Ready, go:


Think of two things you can do right now to get five more bullets on that list. What have you been waiting to do? What have you been thinking about trying, doing, starting? The time is now.