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If you want to be charming, say goodbye to these behaviors

beautiful afro american woman with long black hair with a genuine smile
Beautiful charming woman smiling

Maria, a lady who lives in my condominium in my hometown, Rome, is an incredibly lovely and intelligent woman in her seventies. She has the energy of a teenager. And she is one of those charming people everyone loves to spend time with.

In July 2020, after a long lockdown, I was finally able to travel from Spain, where I live, to Rome. I was sad, as my grandfather had just passed away, and I hadn’t had a chance to see him for the last time. As soon as I got home, I ran into Maria.

She invited me to her place to chat over a cup of tea, then she asked me how I was doing, and I explained to her how I was feeling.

Honestly, in that moment I really needed to talk. However, since I didn’t want to monopolize the conversation, I asked her how she was doing.

She answered briefly, and then politely redirected the conversation back to me, as she knew how much I needed to vent.

Most people would have told me how to deal with grief and then probably changed the subject. Maria insisted I needed to talk, and then she just gave me her undivided attention.

Here’s What Charming People Never Do

People like my friend Maria are rare. One thing they tend to have in common is they don’t display some annoying behaviors, and they rarely do the following things.

1. They Never Talk Over You

Some people have the habit of talking over you before you can even finish your sentence. I don’t know about you, but I find it quite annoying.

Maria would never interrupt you while you talk. I have always perceived it as a sign of confidence, maturity, and wisdom. She is not simply polite; she respects what you have to say.

If she disagrees, she doesn’t jump to explaining her point of view. She tries hard to better understand yours instead. As per Stephen Covey’s teachings in his masterpiece The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, she seeks to understand and then to be understood.

How to avoid this bad habit, in a nutshell:

Whenever you are about to interrupt someone, remember you are inevitably going to lose a part of your interlocutor’s message and that your answer might be irrelevant. Make an effort to let others finish their sentence before even formulate your answer. You will avoid losing an important part of their message, and you will be able to give a thoughtful and intelligent answer.

2. They Never Redirect the Conversation to Themselves

Most people try to redirect the conversation to themselves — sometimes to prove they know more about a certain topic, at other times simply to prove they are better than you.

“Next summer my husband and I are going to Cuba for a couple of weeks.”

“Oh, how nice. My husband and I thought about going to Cuba too, but then we decided to go to the Bahamas; it’s much better and safer there. We’ll stay there for three weeks, two weeks is not long enough for us.”

As John P. Weiss explains in one of his articles, many interactions seem more like competitions disguised as conversations. Each person is formulating and preparing their next thought, instead of truly listening to the person who is talking.

People like Maria do the opposite, instead. When you ask them something, they give you a thoughtful and interesting answer that may involve themselves, but then they always redirect the conversation back to you.

How to avoid this bad habit, in a nutshell:

Don’t waste time and energy to prove you are better, because it won’t make others admire you. In fact, it might make people find you annoying. Focus on making the conversation enjoyable, instead. Build the habit of focusing on your interlocutor and making them feel admired.

3. They Never Judge Others

Beautiful young woman smiling
Young woman smiling

As Mark Metry recently wrote, everyone complains about others from time to time, it’s only human. However, some have a consistent habit of talking behind other people’s backs and bringing them down, usually due to jealousy.

That’s detrimental to relationships.

In my last conversation with Maria, the first thing that pops up in my mind is the way I felt. What I needed to talk about was a delicate and important matter; for me, it wasn’t something easy to talk about.

I felt comfortable. I remember I could be myself and speak my mind without the need for wearing a “mask.” The reason I felt that way was because I had never heard her talking badly about others. As a consequence, I knew she wouldn’t judge me.

How to avoid this bad habit, in a nutshell:

When you don’t openly judge others all the time, it’s easier to earn other people’s trust and truly connect with them. Get rid of the instinct to judge others, and understand that you don’t always know what’s behind other people’s actions and decisions. In fact, I would say 99% of the time, you have no clue of that.

4. They Don’t Repeatedly Misspell or Mispronounce Your Name

Misspelling someone’s name — or mispronouncing it — once is something that can happen. If you do it twice, you give the impression of not caring much.

The ability to remember names is one habit most likable people have in common. It does not always come easily to them either, however, they always try and develop techniques to help them. If they are not sure about how they should spell or say a name, they simply ask.

How to avoid this bad habit, in a nutshell:

A friend one told me that the easiest way to memorize a name is by repeating it back to the person we’re talking to.

When you meet someone for the first time and they introduce themselves, try to repeat their name.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Lara!” “Nice to meet you too, Lara, I’m Sira.”

Once you have spoken their name out loud, it will be much easier to remember it.

5. They Never Invite Other People Without Asking if You Are Okay With That

We once invited Maria to a family dinner for Christmas. Sadly, her sister had recently lost her husband, and she was alone on that day. So, Maria politely asked if her sister could come too. We obviously agreed.

I’ve often experienced the opposite situation. I once had a friend who, anytime I organized a dinner at my place with a few friends, would invite other friends of hers without even asking me. She would just say “Hey Sira! Francesca, Giovanni and Luca are coming too.”

In the beginning, I didn’t say anything, although her behavior annoyed me. However, later I reached a point where I had to bring this up since my house was pretty small and couldn’t cater to so many people.

There’s a difference between saying that someone else is coming too and asking if you can invite other people. Asking is a common courtesy and is plain good manners. Not asking is simply inconsiderate.

How to avoid this bad habit, in a nutshell:

Not everyone loves group gatherings. Some people are simply like that: reserved; this doesn’t mean they hate socializing, but it can be harder for them. Always keep this in mind.

6. They Don’t Use Their Phone While You Are Talking to Them

If you check Facebook or any other social media platform while someone is talking to you — or while you are simply in their company — what you are communicating to them is basically that you don’t care about them. And that you’re not really interested in anything they might have to say. You are not giving them your undivided attention, which everyone deserves.

Maria is active on social media, but she doesn’t check her Facebook feed every two minutes, especially if someone is talking to her. I’ve never seen her holding her phone while in my company. I believe this speaks volumes about the kind of person she is.

If we all were like Maria, we would live in a much better world.

How to avoid this bad habit, in a nutshell:

Whenever you are in someone else’s company, keep your phone in your bag or in your pocket. Keeping it out of your sight will help you forget about it for a while, and focus on enjoying the moment with the people you are with. This is what charming people do.

Recommended read: People with excellent social skills often display these behaviors

7. They Never Wait Too Long to Reply to Messages

People like Maria always reply to messages in a timely manner. They would never read a message from you and not respond for days. Replying to a message is common courtesy, yet I see many people doing the opposite, repeatedly.

It’s like a new trend.

Acknowledge someone else’s message is a simple and healthy habit we should all adopt.

It’s just a matter of being polite and respectful. If you are wondering if it’s too late to reply to a message you received two days ago, consider this: it’s better to reply — even days after — with a genuine apology than not replying at all.

How to avoid this bad habit, in a nutshell:

Make sure to always reply to messages and emails as soon as you read them. This way you won’t forget to respond, and most importantly, you will build a healthy habit. Replying to messages is a sign of integrity and politeness.


Two common denominators of charming people are respect and common sense.

What we do can certainly make us more likable and connect with people; however, sometimes it’s what we don’t do that makes us unforgettable.

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The Truly Charming