Emotional intelligence expert identifies 10 unlikeable characteristics, students offer two more

Written by: 
Leslie Owusu and Travis Bradberry

Writer Travis Bradberry compiled a list of 10 characteristics that make a person unlikeable in his article “Unmistakable Habits of Unlikeable People,” which he published on LinkedIn. “Too many people succumb to the mistaken belief that being likeable comes from natural, unteachable traits that belong only to a lucky few,” he writes. “In reality, being likeable is under your control, and it’s a matter of emotional intelligence.”

BYU-Hawaii students said encountering people who have these unlikable traits or habits could happen everyday. Jacky Yip, a sophomore in accounting from Hong Kong, said, “When someone does [something unlikeable] to me, I just ignore them.”

Courtney Fuentes, a junior in biology from New Jersey, has a different mindset. She said, “I don’t know if I see people as completely likeable or unlikable, but rather that they have bad qualities. When you build your awareness of how your actions are received by other people, you pave the way to becoming more likeable.”

Bradberry wrote, “Likeability is so critical to your success at work that it can completely alter your performance. Being likeable is as much about avoiding behaviors that decrease your likeability as it is about magnifying those that increase it.”

According to Bradberry, the 10 things are:

1. Name-dropping. When you connect everything you know with who you know, conversations lose their color. Yip said, “Name-dropping bothers me the most. I don’t really like people who are very prideful.”

2. Emotional hijackings. Exploding at anyone, regardless of how much they might “deserve it,” turns a huge amount of negative attention your way. An emotional hijacking demonstrates low emotional intelligence.

3. Humble-bragging. For example, the gal who makes fun of herself for being a nerd when she really wants to draw attention to the fact that she’s smart or the guy who makes fun of himself for having a strict diet when he really wants you to know how healthy and fit he is.

4. Whipping out your phone. Nothing turns someone off to you like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When you commit to a conversation, focus all of your energy on the conversation.

5. Having a closed mind. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is unwilling to listen. Fuentes said, “Closed-mindedness is really one of my biggest pet peeves. People who are set in their thoughts and ways or don’t even consider they could be wrong irk me.”

6. Not asking enough questions. Ask lot of questions. People like to know you’re listening, and something as simple as a clarification question shows that not only are you listening but that you also care about what they’re saying.

7. Being too serious. Likeable people balance their passion for their work with their ability to have fun. At work they are serious, yet friendly. They focus on having meaningful interactions with their coworkers, remembering what people said to them yesterday or last week, which shows people that they are just as important to them as their work is.

8. Gossiping. Wallowing in talk of other people’s misdeeds or misfortunes may end up hurting their feelings if the gossip ever finds its way to them, but gossiping is guaranteed to make you look negative and spiteful every time.

9. Sharing too much, too early. Over-sharing comes across as self-obsessed and insensitive to the balance of the conversation. Fuentes disagreed and said, ““I am a very open person so I feel like it’s not possible for people to over share. Everyone’s feelings matter.”

10. Sharing too much on social media. Sharing on social media can be an important mode of expression, but it needs to be done thoughtfully and with some self-control. Kathryn Omae, a sophomore in I.T. from Papua New Guinea, said, “People are constantly tagging me in things on Facebook. You don’t need to tag me in all your pictures. It’s too much! It gives me a headache.”

When asked if they would add anything to the list, Fuentes said,  “I don’t like talking to people who think they know everything. When I’m with someone who is like that, I can immediately sense it. Also, pretentious people or people who you can tell are looking at you the wrong way are unlikeable.”

Omae said she would add pride to the list. “Since this is such a diverse school, people tend to be really prideful of where they are from. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of where you’re from, but don’t put other people down because they are from a different place.”

Date Published: 
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Last Edited: 
Saturday, January 28, 2017