Replace a few bad social habits with good ones and you can immediately increase your likability. Likability is a determining factor in all aspects of social life, from work to dating. Clearly, this often overlooked skill is an important one. Listed below are common harmful habits and positive alternatives.

Not actively listening

This is an easy trap to fall into, especially if you are a socially nervous person. The problem is listening to respond and not to understand and connect. This behavior gives the impression that you don’t respect your conversation partner and makes you appear self-absorbed. Actively focus on what the other person is saying with both their words and non-verbal cues. Wait until they have finished speaking before formulating your own response, ideally a follow-up question about what they just said.

Dominating the conversation

A study by Harvard University found that talking about ourselves gives us an emotional high that feels good. It makes sense how conversations can sometimes feel like a boxing match for attention. While keeping the focus on us feels good in the short term, it doesn’t make people like us. This need can also lead to behaviors such as interrupting or speaking over people, which is considered rude and disrespectful. Speak less than you think you should. If there are five people in a group, speak less than twenty percent of the time. If you have only one conversation partner, aim for around forty percent speaking time by expressing an interest in their life passions and letting them share.

Turning things into a competition

When hearing a personal story, it is often a natural instinct to “one-up” it with one of your own. Unfortunately, people don’t like feeling pulled into a competition they didn’t want. This is especially true when, after sharing about a painful experience, their conversation partner starts competing and bringing up every bad thing that’s happened to them. Furthermore, people who are always demanding they get their way are usually not well liked. It shows a lack of respect for others and their opinions and often leads to others excluding you. Instead, focus on asking how to support hurting friends and follow through. Allow yourself to be proven wrong sometimes. Surprisingly, it can actually make people like you more.

Not caring about your appearance, or caring too much

Taking basic care of your appearance is a healthy sign that you respect both others and yourself. When you make no effort to present yourself well you are telling the world that you don’t value yourself very highly. If you don’t, why should they? Alternatively, no one enjoys being around a vain person who is unwilling to acknowledge their flaws. There is a healthy balance between putting your best foot forward and keeping it real.

Complaining constantly

While complaining can feel good occasionally, constantly carrying a cloud of negativity with you is exhausting. Also, hearing other people complain forces an unwanted emotional burden on you. If you’re constantly complaining, you may be unintentionally driving people away. Change this habit by actively practicing gratitude. Instead of complaining about things, look for something you can be grateful for. Expressing gratitude in a difficult situation will lift everyone’s spirits and is a sign of a good leader.

Speaking down to people

Sometimes people are unaware of how their words come across. Even a sincere attempt can leave people feeling hurt and insulted. This often happens when people slide words like “actually” into their sentences, which implies a lack of confidence and surprise at the expression of competence. Remember, a backhanded compliment isn’t a compliment at all.┬áConsider how you would receive your statement in their shoes. If it doesn’t feel completely positive, rephrase it.

By developing healthy social habits, you can endear yourself to people quickly. This can lead to many wonderful benefits, not the least of which is genuine friendships.