THE BLOG
04/20/2016 10:18 am ET Updated Apr 21, 2017

The 7 Habits of Highly Obnoxious People

Most of us are guilty of some (if not all) of the behaviors below on occasion. Perhaps, depending on the context, we can even justify these less-than-awesome acts. But, truth be told, if you're doing any of these things regularly chances are you've likely earned a spot in "jerk jail," and you may not be getting the plethora of invites you used to from friends, coworkers and loved ones.

No. 1 - Interrupting

I doubt this one needs much of an explanation, but if you're continually cutting people off to get your point across, stop it. Perhaps Joe from accounting is going on far too long about his professional perils in morose detail, and you gently slide in mid-conversation to let him know you understand, but you really gotta get going. That's tolerable.

But if someone is eight words into a sentence, and you jump in to finish it, or worse, change the subject entirely, you should be fired from life. I strategically place this obnoxious habit first because it's the absolute worst.

What the "interrupting" habit signals: I'm a bad listener, and I think what I have to say is far more important than what you have to say.

No. 2 - Big-timing

Oh, the big-timer, my personal favorite. I am definitely guilty of this one on occasion when getting stalked by an account executive who is trying to sell me something I don't want which is, in my opinion, somewhat excusable. (See how I justified my behavior, there? That's probably another obnoxious habit!)

Here is an example of a scenario you may find yourself in with the big-timer:

If you text her to set up a meeting, she will tell you to email her; then when you email her, she tells you to call her; then when you call her, she never picks up. This will go round and round, and you will never be able to get something on the books. The big-timer will continually leave you hanging, not committing fully to a meet-up time or an event and will likely cancel last minute, even though you never really knew if they were committed in the first place! This is THE definition of insanity.

P.S. This behavior is the hallmark of modern-day douchebag dating, but that is an entirely different article.

What the "big-timing" habit signals: I lack integrity in terms of managing my life, and I'm scared to tell you that I don't have everything under control. And maybe, I'm just a jerk!

No. 3 - Knowing it all

The know-it-all is an all too familiar childhood nightmare. She was the kid who always raised her hand. Her hair was always in a perfect ponytail too. If you got the answer wrong, she was standing right beside you with the correct response. While teachers and parents referred to her as "precocious," "gifted," or "highly intelligent," her classmates wanted to put a gag in her mouth, tie her up, and leave her in a dark room to figure out how to escape -- since, after all, she "knows it all."

As an adult, this person will ALWAYS seem like she knows what you are talking about and will always nod in agreement as though she's saying "yes of course, that's exactly right, and I knew it before you even opened your mouth."

If you really do know everything, which you may, once in awhile do the rest of us a favor and pretend you don't.

What the "knowing-it-all" habit signals: I may be smart, but my emotional intelligence hasn't quite kicked in so I'm completely unaware of how I may come across. I'm also mildly socially awkward, and I'm trying to win approval.

No. 4 - Over-promising

The over-promiser means well, and often times even thinks he can deliver. However, because he's so attached to his own needs (masked by "people pleasing") while simultaneously being deathly afraid to fail, both parties involved are usually left feeling like crap and not getting what they need. Eventually, this "over-promising-promise-breaking" cycle will erode any form of trust. Whether professional or personal, it's no bueno.

What the "over-promising" habit signals: I care more about my own needs, thus I will do whatever it takes to get from you what I need in this moment.

No. 5 - Talking down

Ugh. Talking down a.k.a. being patronizing. This habit is particularly nuanced and is largely subconscious based on years of negative conditioning in the form of a parent, significant other, teacher, spouse, or peer. The unconscious thinking process of the one who is talking down usually goes something like this:

"I don't like it when people don't listen to me or take me seriously. I really need them to understand I am the expert here, and that I know what I'm talking about. If I don't make this clear, they may not realize how important or smart I am, which means they'll think I'm a loser. I can't be a loser."

What the "talking down" habit says about you: I lack self-awareness, and I haven't spent enough time in reflection to understand how ridiculous I sound. I also don't feel like people listen to me, and I'm insecure about this.

No. 6 - Chronically being tardy to the party

I happen to know many successful, lovely people who are chronically late to every event, meeting, and gathering, and likely their own wedding. This habit, while it does tend to signal selfishness, is really more annoying than anything. As a business professional, it shows a lack of respect for other people's time; the same holds true for your personal life but it tends to be more forgivable assuming the culprit has redeeming qualities like good hair, money in the bank, empathy, or cooking skills.

But in all seriousness, it's obnoxious.

What the "chronically being tardy to the party" habit signals: I'm a poor manager of my time, and thus, I will likely waste yours too.

No. 7 - Feigning humility

This habit is known in the social media sphere as "the humble brag." When someone who is clearly an established professional or person with notoriety wins a big award or lands on national television you may see a post such as:

"I can't believe this happened! With so many talented individuals out there, I don't feel deserving of this. Truly grateful. #Blessed."

What the rest of us want to do: #ThrowUpInOurMouths

While the humble bragger intends to communicate feelings of equality and unworthiness, these "safe social media statements" are often perceived in an opposing way.

I can understand if you're a sheltered stay-at-home-mom in Toledo who just won $5,000 and a trip to Disney World, and this is LITERALLY the highlight of the last 10 years. Go crazy! You probably really do feel as though you don't deserve it, and you likely feel blessed, especially for the sake of the kiddos.

But if you're the guy or gal who is at the top of their game, and you don't know how to accept something amazing, then you end up alienating and undermining those in your professional and personal circles. Take the compliment, award, or spot on national television and let us know how freaking excited you are! If someone can't handle it, too bad for them. That's their own "stuff."

What the "feigning humility" habit signals: I don't know how to take a compliment, and I'm afraid if I do, then you won't like me very much.

At the end of the day, we are all obnoxious in our own special ways, and this is okay from time to time. But if you see yourself engaging in any of these habits regularly, you may be best served to take a giant step back and objectively assess what's underneath it all.

For those of us on the receiving end of obnoxious behavior, while it's perfectly acceptable to be annoyed, I would also add that having empathy and compassion is typically a much better route. If someone's bad habits are negatively affecting you on a regular basis, then talk to them about it! You may be surprised with the result.