Learn how to stop turning people off

For all the effort, time and money people seem to spend these days trying to make themselves appear more attractive, younger, wealthier and more sophisticated, little is done to reduce the ways in which they unwittingly repulse the rest of us. By trying to build a tower on crumbling foundations, their efforts inevitably collapse, causing more of a negative impression than they would have, had they simply addressed the underlying repellent characteristics.

Perhaps the easiest way to send people running is by neglecting your personal hygiene. There are many who seem to believe that hygiene is something that’s polite to observe in company. These people may be able to keep up their disgusting façade for a period of time, but the hawkish scrutiny of polite and civilized society inevitably reveals them for what they are: nose pickers, nail biters and soap dodgers. Remember, washing your hands is not something you do to please others, it is for the benefit of everybody’s health, including your own. By thinking you can get away without washing your hands after using the restroom, you facilitate the transfer of bacteria directly from the toilet to your mouth. Do not be surprised if people start to find ways to avoid shaking your hand or being around you.

Personal hygiene is not, of course, solely about washing your hands after using the bathroom. It’s about genuinely respecting your body and looking after it accordingly. If you live in a hot climate and have to shower four times a day and go through two or three outfits, then so be it. Keep your hair clean and tidy, clip your nails or go to a salon. Shave neatly and be aware that in many cultures, beards and moustaches are considered to be highly dubious when it comes to cleanliness. While you may be proud of sporting a big, bushy beard, others may be imagining the horrors which might be nesting in it.

Oral hygiene is essential if you don’t want people to choke on their own vomit as soon as you begin talking. It’s essential to keep your teeth clean, even if they are not perfectly formed. You can be forgiven for having wonky teeth, but not for having dirty teeth. Use floss and an electric toothbrush, which is healthier than traditional methods. Go for regular check-ups with your dentist. Use a mouthwash only to improve your breath. Chewing gum is considered a base habit by many.

It may be the case that you maintain high standards of oral hygiene, and yet your breath is still toxic enough to cause a terror alert on a crowded subway train. This could be due to gastroesophageal issues such as GERD and acid reflux. While antacids may provide relief for you and those in the immediate vicinity, it’s important that you take medical advice on how to deal with these problems, as they can have serious long-term consequences for your overall health. As such problems may also cause excess flatulence, it goes without saying that the sooner you get them fixed, the sooner we can all breathe easily again.

Another aspect of many people which stinks more than their breath is their attitude. We are mistakenly taught that assertiveness should be encouraged at the expense of other social skills. Moreover, assertiveness is often confused with arrogance, boastfulness and general boorishness, which of course, are considered to be contemptible characteristics by intelligent and thoughtful people. The skill that is undervalued by, and found lacking in many people is that of listening well. Listening does not simply mean pausing your speech to allow someone to fit in a quick anecdote for you to ignore or shoot down. Listening wins people over to you, it gives them the impression that what they say is valued, and people like to think that they have something valuable to say. In a debate, listening is the key to mastering your opponent and smashing their arguments beyond repair while they reload. Talking over others, becoming agitated and repeating yourself simply turn people against you. Even if they know you are right, they may well oppose you out of spite in order to pay you back for your contemptible attitude.