8 Annoying Conversation Habits You’re Probably Guilty Of

UPDATED: January 30, 2023
PUBLISHED: January 26, 2023
man texting during conversation

Do you talk too much in conversations? Maybe you’re prone to interrupting. Or are you a one-upper? It could even be that you can’t stop looking at your phone every three seconds. We all have one—a bad conversation habit.

We asked the Young Entrepreneur Council for their opinions on the most off-putting things entrepreneurs and self-starters do in conversations. See if you’re guilty of any of these bad conversation habits. And if you are? Stop, stat.

Bad conversation habits to stop ASAP

1. Talking too much

People tend to talk themselves out of a deal by saying too much. Only answer the questions that people ask of you. As a rule of thumb, you should say about 20% of what you really want to. Offering too much information tends to generate more questions, which in turn leads to fear of the unknown. Keep it concise and direct.

—Andy Karuza, NachoNacho

2. Inflating yourself

A little humility goes a long way. I think your work can speak for itself, and oftentimes other people will brag on your behalf when it’s warranted. So don’t go into a conversation and regale us with your inflated ego or otherwise. Get to know the other person by asking questions and finding common ground.

—Darrah Brustein, Darrah.co

3. Saying “I feel like” is a bad conversation habit

You’re allowed to share your gut feeling, but assuming that you can win an argument because of your gut is an issue—not only because it’s annoying, but it takes away your team’s power to do its job.

—Aaron Schwartz, NPS Ventures

4. Poor delivery

If you are not able to properly communicate a compelling elevator pitch or lack knowledge in your industry, you immediately discredit your position in the market. Poor delivery is off-putting because it shows a lack of effort. You have to be prepared to sell yourself. You never know who you will meet and what power they hold.

—Rakia Reynolds, Skai Blue Media

5. Using buzzwords

Whether you are talking to potential clients, users or investors, no one wants to feel like they don’t understand what acronyms you’re using or what you’re trying to convey. There is a reason politicians speak as plainly as possible—so they can get everyone on the same page, and thus on board with their plan.

—Kim Kaupe, Bright Ideas Only

6. Interrupting is a bad conversation habit

Since entrepreneurs often think a mile a minute, they are often cutting into other people’s part of the conversation, thinking they know what they are about to say or already moving on to the next thought. More entrepreneurs need to dial it down, take a breath and actively listen. Speed is good in many situations, but it’s important to take in what others have to say.

—Peter Daisyme, Due

7. Checking your phone

All phones should be put away during conversations. No calls or texts. No browsing. It shows a lack of interest in the conversation you are having with someone. If you are not that interested, change the subject.

—Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

8. Leading with assumptive questions is a bad conversation habit

People often kick off a conversation by asking an assumptive question that will alienate at least part of their audience. For example, if you ask, “Have you ever been to X?” and the answer is “No,” you just lost that individual. That’s not the best way to build rapport.

—Eric Mathews, Start Co.

This article was published in August 2016 and has been updated. Photo by Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.