How to Not Be Creepy

There are a lot of emails in my Inbox from people who want to improve their social interactions. Many times, they’ll talk about coming across as creepy, or weird, and wanting real bad to fix this.

Sometimes this creepiness is mostly imaginary, many times though there is reliable evidence to support it, and sometimes others have told them point blank: “You’re creepy!” So I thought I’d share some insights about what can make someone come across as creepy and how to avoid it, based on my experience as a communication coach.

What Does Being Creepy Mean Anyway?

First of all, let’s get clear on what being creepy means exactly.

If you go to a reputable dictionary such as Merriam-Webster, you’ll find the term “creepy” defined as: “strange or scary, causing people to feel nervous and afraid”.

Put another way, when others say you’re creepy, it means you make them feel uncomfortable. Creepiness has to do with a feeling of unease triggered in others.

This brings me to a major point I wanna emphasize, which I believe is crucial to grasp:

There Are Only Creepy Actions, Not Creepy People

There is no such thing as a creepy person. Because, considering what being creepy means, a creepy person would be someone who makes nearly all people feel uncomfortable, nearly all the time. And pretty much nobody does that. Not even the crazy homeless people you may run into on the streets sometimes.

What we’re really talking about is behavior that makes some people feel uncomfortable. Sometimes you may say something or do something in a social setting that’s perceived by some as inappropriate, and it triggers discomfort in them. But that’s just a creepy action; it doesn’t mean you’re a creepy person overall. And even actions that seem creepy to some will often seem perfectly normal to others. Preferences play a big role.

Of course, people may call you creepy, but it doesn’t mean you are creepy. It just means you did or said something that came across to them as weird. Most people are really bad at properly labeling behavior though, and so they label individuals as a whole. Thus, they call you creepy, instead of your particular behavior.

So even though others may label you as creepy, don’t ever think of yourself that way. It’s a toxic and unrealistic way to see yourself. There is no such thing as a creepy person; there are just behaviors that come across as creepy, to some.

Now, let’s look at how you can get rid of such behaviors.

Be Consistent In Your Behavior

Asian college studentsWhen I talk with clients in coaching sessions about social situations where something they said or done came across as creepy, I frequently discover that it was because their behavior was inconsistent.

They didn’t do something bad; they just shifted their conduct abruptly from one direction to another, which typically makes others uncomfortable.

For example, when a guy spends months interacting with a girl pretending to be just friends, and then one day suddenly comes out of the closet confessing he has a crush on her, that there is inconsistent behavior. He made a sudden shift from positioning himself as a friend to positioning himself as a lover. That will take most girls by surprise, they won’t know how to react, and thus it will make them feel uncomfortable. So it will seem creepy.

These kinds of situations arise because we act fake and hide our true intentions, and then at one point, voluntarily or not, we suddenly reveal our true intentions. That’s why I always encourage people to be genuine and not have hidden agendas. It will make their behavior unitary and reliable, and others will be able to trust them.

If you like someone, don’t hide it from them. Flirt with them; let them know how you feel. Hidden agendas create inconsistent behavior, and that will regularly be perceived as creepy.

Strip Yourself of Your Social Anxieties

One major reason why some people often come off as creepy is their social insecurities.

If you’re in a social situation and you feel anxious, it will affect your entire behavior and vibe. Anxious people often talk incoherently, there are awkward silences in their conversations, their gestures tend to be jerky, and their conduct clumsy. That will make others feel discomfort, and therefore they will seem creepy.

If you often feel anxious in social situations, I can promise that overcoming your social anxieties will be the single most important change you can make to not be perceived as creepy.

Over the past 6+ years, coaching shy and socially insecure individuals, I’ve found that social anxiety can be eliminated, by making some strategic changes in your thinking patterns, your self-image and your beliefs system.

This is a broad topic though, so I’m not gonna go into details here. However, I’ve created a special instructional presentation, in which I explain step-by-step how you can overcome your insecurities and gain rock-solid social confidence. Go here to access it and make sure you watch it.

Improve Your Social Awareness

Social awareness is the ability to understand how social situations work and what outcome what behavior will likely generate in such a situation. It’s what allows you to properly adjust your social behavior and create the impression you want.

In general, people who are often labeled as creepy lack social awareness. They are sort of clueless about what to do when they interact with others, which is why they behave awkwardly.

The good news is that social awareness can be developed. I’ve actually seen people with very low social awareness become highly socially savvy.

Primarily, it’s a matter of practice. You need to get out there and interact with people. You’ll make your fair share of mistakes at first, but if you reflect on them a bit and you learn from them, you’ll gain social awareness and you’ll become smooth with people.

Improving your social awareness is also a matter of learning about social dynamics from books, courses, and other people. This is the kind of stuff you rarely learn is school, but there are a lot of other quality sources of information out there.

With this in mind, I recommend you to join my free social success newsletter, which is where I share most of my advice for developing social skills and social confidence. I’m sure you’ll benefit a lot from it. Go to this page and enter your email to get onboard.

With more consistent behavior, less insecurities and more social awareness, you’ll get radically better reactions from other people. They’ll be more interested in talking to you, you’ll be invited to more social events, and you’ll appear charismatic instead of creepy.

Bear in mind though that it’s impossible to never do or say anything that comes off as creepy. Even the most socially skilled individuals seem creepy to some people, sometimes. It’s unavoidable. And it’s not a problem anyway.

As long as coming off creepy doesn’t happen a lot and it doesn’t prevent you from having a great social life, you’re fine. Go out there and be social.

6 Signs That You’re Socially Awkward and How to Fix This

If social interactions don’t go for you as well as you would like and you sometimes tend to put your foot in your mouth during conversations, you may be asking yourself: “Am I socially awkward?

Drawing from my experience as a social confidence coach, I want to explain the characteristics of socially awkward people and help you comprehend if you are socially awkward or not, as well as show you what to do about it.

The Profile of Socially Awkward People

Socially awkward persons possess a set of distinctive traits. The more of these traits you have and the larger their degree, the higher on the social awkwardness scale you’re likely to be. Here they are:

1. Feeling nervous in social settings. The typical socially awkward person doesn’t feel comfortable in social situations. They are anxiety producing.

This is one of the main factors that often make them behave in weird ways around other people. Nervousness leads to a creepy demeanor, and realizing that your demeanor is creepy creates even more nervousness, so we have an ongoing negative cycle.

2. Not understanding social norms. Often when I talk with a socially awkward person, they tell me they often don’t know what’s appropriate for them to do and what’s not in a social situation.

They don’t know how is it OK to start a conversation, what conversation topics is it best to talk about and when, or what is it suited to joke about and what is it not. Obviously, this lack of understanding can lead to either weird or shy behavior.

3. Often having a different impact than intended. It’s common for socially awkward people to joke about something and others to find the joke uncalled for, or to try and give a compliment, only for it to come off in a distasteful way.

In other words, they intend to generate one result, and they end up generating a totally different one. This mismatch is a sign of a deficiency of social calibration.

4. The lack of conversation flow. Everybody has conversations that don’t flow, have awkward silences or end abruptly. But for socially awkward people, this is the rule, not the exception.

Their conversations are habitually like a rough wagon ride on a bumpy country road.

5. Frequently being avoided or ridiculed by others. If others actively try to dodge interactions with you, or they often mock you during them, they probably see you as the weird person in the group.

And if they see you this way, it can be a sign that your social behavior is awkward and makes it easy to attract the derision of others.

6. The lack of meaningful connections with others. Since they struggle with making conversation, feeling at ease around others and expressing themselves effectively, socially awkward people typically lack strong connections with others.

They generally have few friends, if any, and a very small social circle. They spend a lot of time alone and to say their social life is less than fulfilling is an understatement.

OK. These are the 6 distinctive traits of socially awkward individuals. Taking them into consideration, this is a good moment to ask yourself again “Am I socially awkward?”

If The Conclusion Is “I Am Socially Awkward”

If the conclusion of this self-assessment is that you are socially awkward, this is likely an issue with a visible negative impact on your life. You could have much better relationships and be a lot happier if you deal with this effectively. I have three essential pieces of advice I can offer you.

The first and most important is to develop your social confidence. To a very large extent, social awkwardness is produced by shyness and anxiety in social settings.

When you’re anxious, you can’t think straight, you stumble, bumble and fumble around, and thus you embarrass yourself. Work on improving your social confidence, and I promise you that most of this will take care of itself.

Check out this free presentation I’ve created to learn how to eliminate anxiety and boost your social confidence.

The second advice is to learn the basic social norms. The basic principles of social interactions can be learned from books, courses or socially savvy people. Knowing them and applying them will aid you adjust your social behavior to the situation.

However, beyond the basic principles, everything else can only be learned through experience. No other person can tell you exactly what to do and say during a social interaction.

This is why the third advice is to gain lots of experience interacting with others. Meet new people, make conversation, experiment, notice the results and fine-tune your behavior accordingly.

In time, this real-life social experience will transform you from socially awkward to socially intelligent. And of course, a huge part of the nerve to do all this socializing comes, again, from developing your social confidence.

If you want to discover exactly how you can do this, make sure you watch my social confidence presentation.

Fortunately, overcoming social awkwardness is absolutely possible, no matter who you are. You can become a socially calibrated person who makes conversation effortlessly, has awesome friends and enjoys a great social life.

The key is to use focus on achieving this with determination, seek the best advice available and implement it.

Image courtesy of DaveAustria.com

How to Avoid Awkward Silences

Alex: “The last movie I saw was Inception.”

You: “Oh, I saw that movie! I liked it.”

Alex: “Yeah, it was a good movie.”

You: “Yeah, aha…”

And then, S-I-L-E-N-C-E. So much silence that if feels awkward. You can hear your heart beating, you can hear the clock on the wall ticking, and you can’t tell which is which anymore.

It sometimes happens, even for persons with good people skills, to have a conversation that gets stuck at certain points, no one is speaking and it doesn’t feel right. Knowing how to avoid awkward silences is a people skill that can save the day in such a case.

I treasure a conversation with a good flow. Over the years, both me and many of my social confidence coaching clients have tested various tools and techniques to keep conversations going and to avoid those silences that feel weird.

There is also a huuuge attitude component to avoiding awkward silences. The fact of the matter is that people who are confident and feel at ease in social settings naturally find ways to get over silences and create flow.

So before anything else, I advise you to watch my free social confidence presentation. In it I will teach you my proven formula for becoming a charismatic and confident conversationalist. Go here to access it. I promise it will inspire you.

There are three ways to avoid awkward silences in a conversation that are on the top of my mind. Here they are:

1. Think Less, Talk More

There is always something to say in a conversation, a way to continue it. The fact that people who can keep talking for hours nonstop exist is living proof of that. Awkward silences appear in conversation many times because we don’t give ourselves permission to talk.

We are overanalyzing, looking for the perfect thing to say, for the proper line to continue with. When we can’t come up with one, we shut up and just sit there. That’s what creates most awkward silences.

Learn to stop looking for the perfect conversation and to just say whatever comes to your mind. If you feel like talking about the delicious pie you had for breakfast, do that. You’ll discover that it’s actually fine to let go and talk about whatever you feel like.

2. Get Excited and Curious

It’s hard to have awkward silences in a conversation when you’re a really curious person, excited to discover the other person and willing to ask them a lot of questions.

The point is not to turn a conversation into an interrogatory. However, getting curious and asking questions based on this is, in my practice, one of the best ways to have a good flow in a conversation.

The other person may not be so eager to talk about some subjects. Don’t interpret this as a negative reflection upon you. Continue being curious and trust me, you will discover the subjects the other person is eager to talk about.

3. Keep the Silence, Remove the Awkward

I used to think that in a social interaction, one person must always be talking. That assumption got totally trashed when I started really observing other people interacting and noticing some people sitting at a table together, having a coffee in silence and totally enjoying the interaction.

A social interaction is much more than words. An exchange between people can happen simply by having eye contact or being present together, in the same moment.

Instead of trying to gap every silence, every once in a while to let it be instead and enjoy it. Make silences a natural part of a certain type of conversations. As you’ll get better at this, I can tell you from experience that you’ll really learn to appreciate silences in social interactions.

Always bear in mind to work on your attitude as well. Techniques can only get you so far. I have a practical guide for you concerning this, which you can find here.

The people skill of making conversation is part science, part art. How to avoid awkward silences is something that can be taught as theory up to a certain point, but it depends even more on practicing the theory and on gradually becoming more comfortable interacting with more types of people.

I wish you a lot of fun with your practice. Now, get out there and be social!

Image courtesy of Brandon Christopher Warren