Here’s a tough question for you.
Are you likable?
Do people find it easy, energizing, and refreshing to be around you?
People will unknowingly carry around bad behaviors — behaviors that hold them back from loving relationships, career growth, and simple life happiness.
They don’t realize they have infected themselves with negative behaviors that offend or even push people away.
Most of us do a few things to annoy people, especially in our close relationships. It’s impossible to be human and not drift into occasional bad moods, childish reactions, or selfishness.
But sometimes these behaviors become habitual. We adopt them as part of our daily interactions and personal operating systems.
What Causes Bad Behavior?
Are wondering, “How do you explain bad behavior?” There are number reasons someone might develop negative behaviors as adults. Let’s look at a few of them.
- Perhaps a person never learned emotionally mature behaviors or they weren’t modeled by their parents. The parents inadvertently gave their seal of approval to certain negative actions. Therefore the child keep doing them through adulthood.
Sometimes the people around us let us “get away” with behaviors by not setting boundaries or consequences.
- A mental health issue or personality disorder can be the cause of unpleasant and different behaviors.
- Sometimes, positive traits can create a smokescreen for bad behavior in adults, so we give ourselves permission to act out in one area because we are so good most of the time.
But remember, the behaviors you consistently reflect to the world are the tangible measure of your character and maturity. Yes, sometimes our emotions do get the best of us. But there are many compelling reasons to drop consistent bad behavior habits and create positive new ones.
The behaviors we’re referring to here aren’t the grossly horrendous actions that could get you arrested (abuse, cruelty, cheating, etc.).
We’re talking about the small bad behaviors that are like a thousand tiny arrows hurled over months and years.
- They slowly drain the mutual respect, ease, and natural pleasure of relationships.
- They cause others to be hyper-vigilant and on edge, waiting for the anticipated conduct or lack of conduct.
As always, the first step toward change is awareness.
9 Bad Behavior Habits to Avoid
If you see yourself plagued by anything on this list of bad behaviors, begin the work of turning your bad behavior into positive, relationship-building new habits.
Within this list, you’ll find plenty of specific bad behavior examples you may recognize in yourself. If so, read on to learn how to turn these around into new, positive behaviors.
1. Guilt Tripping
The guilt tripper uses not-so-subtle strategies to let others know they aren’t happy about something. When things don’t go their way, the guilt-tripper will say or do things to try to make others feel bad about their choices or actions.
Rather than speaking plainly about a desire or disappointment, or just letting it go, the guilt tripper wants others to suffer right along with him/her.
New positive behavior: Learn to accept that not everything will go your way. Other people are entitled to make choices that you may not like. Ask for what you want, express your needs kindly, and accept disappointments graciously.
2. Acting Holier Than Thou
“Holier than thou” behavior manifests as the need to be right all the time, the need to have the last word, and the need to feel more important or intelligent than others.
This person feels they know best and must let others in on their superiority. The behavior is frequently a cover for insecurity.
New positive behavior: Recognize that humility combined with mature self-confidence is highly attractive. No one wants to feel “less than” or inferior, regardless of their background, income, or station in life. Every person has something valuable to contribute, so seek first to learn from others.
3. Having Temper Tantrums
What are examples of bad behavior? Pouting, withdrawal, belligerence, and passive aggressive behaviors are all examples of an adult temper tantrum.
We all get angry and hurt, but there are healthy, adult ways of expressing anger that don’t undermine relationships.
When our kids are little and have temper tantrums, we tell them to “use your words.” We all need to use our words rather than reverting to childish behaviors to express our feelings.
New positive behavior: Recognize anger and frustration when they arise and work to identify the source. Often it is much deeper than the issue at hand. Take a deep breath and talk calmly about the feelings under the anger. Step back from interactions until you can control your feelings and speak calmly.
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4. Using Manipulation
Many of the behaviors listed involve manipulation, but a manipulator pro will take it to new levels. They will use intelligence, wit, charm, or other skills to get people conform to their will.
It may take months or years for those close to the manipulator to realize what’s happening. Sometimes the manipulator doesn’t consciously realize what they are doing is wrong or underhanded. They simply see the behavior as a normal means to an end.
New positive behavior: This one is tricky because it involves a fairly sophisticated level of self-awareness. It begins by embracing an honest respect for those around you — acknowledging that most people have inner wisdom and should not be led down a path that isn’t right for them, even if they do so willingly at first.
This behavior is one that can easily become habitual. Having information about someone, especially salacious or negative information, feels powerful. We know something that inquiring minds want to know.
But gossip creates so much hurt and erodes trust. It takes practice and commitment to throw water on the fire of gossip.
New positive behavior: Begin to view gossip for what it is — hurtful and unkind. Rather than engage in gossip, seek the good in the person or situation and be the arbiter of kindness and healing.
6. Acting Jealous
Jealousy can manifest in many of the behaviors listed, especially guilt tripping. It usually stems from feeling wounded, inferior, or insecure.
Jealous behavior makes others feel uncomfortable and unnecessarily guilty or wrong. We all feel it from time to time, and it’s a call to examine and appreciate our own lives.
New positive behavior: When jealousy rears its ugly head, stop and take a moment to turn the feelings around. If you feel jealous of someone, take a moment to bless their bounty and acknowledge your own. If you want to improve your circumstances, take action rather than feeding the jealousy or putting someone down.
7. Showing Poor Listening Skills
The age of distraction has led to an erosion of good listening skills. We type on the computer and talk to our children without looking at them. We answer cell phones during an important conversation or meal.
We text while socializing with real, live people. We look past the person we are speaking with to see if someone more important is nearby. We are disengaged from really hearing what others have to say to us.
New positive behavior: Start by removing distractions when you are speaking to someone. Turn off the cell phone or TV. Step away from the computer. Practice deep listening by making eye contact, reflecting back to the speaker what you heard, and acknowledging the feelings or ideas conveyed.
8. Having Bad Manners
Have good manners gone with the wind? These simple skills that most of us were taught as children are powerful relating tools.
Saying please and thank you, not interrupting, assisting someone, making conversation, showing appreciation, having table manners, being on time — all of these reflect consideration for others and respect for one’s self.
New positive behavior: Most of us know what good manners are, but since society in general has become more and more relaxed about them, we might have forgotten to use them. Start by reminding yourself about good manners. Take notice of what you might be neglecting and make a conscious effort to implement the manners that are missing for you.
9. Having Poor Conversation Skills
Have you ever been around someone who is constantly interrupting or talking over others? It seems this person believes what they have to say is more interesting or important than anyone else’s contribution.
Or there are those who disengage from conversation entirely, believing they are above it all or can’t spend the energy to be social.
Poor conversation skills scream to others that you don’t care about them or what they have to say.
New positive behavior: If you tend to dominate conversations, learn to speak less and listen more. Ask questions of those around you to show your genuine interest in what they have to say — without turning the topic back to you.
If you clam up in social settings, work on being more outgoing and conversational. Even if you don’t relate to the people around you, there is always some common point of discussion you can discover.
Ready to learn how to change your bad behavior?
It can be really hard to look in the mirror and see the truth about the ways we may be behaving. Our first reaction is to deflect and defend — we have good reason for our actions, we can justify our behaviors.
Personal growth, and ultimately happiness in life, involves making ourselves vulnerable, acknowledging our flaws, and changing the behavior.
What behavior habits would you like to adopt in your life? Please share them with us in the comments.