From Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project, here are some tips on how to tell if you're making others miserable.
We all see the world through our own eyes, and it can be hard to recognize how our words and actions appear to other people. One of the challenges of being a difficult person is realizing that you’re a difficult person. I’ve known many difficult people who, I suspect, have no idea that others find them difficult!
In his excellent book The No A****** Rule(I’m omitting the title not from prudery but from fear of spam-blockers), and also on his blog, Work Matters, Bob Sutton has a quiz to help people recognize if they are a*******.
I was inspired to adapt that material for this quiz. As you answer these questions, be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t make excuses for yourself or other people; just try to answer accurately. These questions apply to family members gathering for a holiday, or to co-workers, or to any group of people who are trying to get along with each other.
—When you join a group of people, does the mood often shift? Does a group tend to break apart after you join it?
—When you do something generous for others, do you think it only right that your generosity will allow you to make decisions for them or direct their actions?
—Do you find it hard to get your calls and emails returned?
—Do you often find that when you do something nice for people, they do a lot of grumbling? Do they seem ungrateful or uncooperative? Do they seem reluctant to accept your generosity? For example, you offered to host Thanksgiving dinner, but no one appreciated it.
—Are you often puzzled when people dramatically over-react to little mistakes, oversights, or casual remarks you make? You bring up some hilarious anecdote from years ago, and everyone acts upset.
—Do you think it important to express your true feelings and views authentically, even if that means upsetting other people?
—Do you find that people seem resentful and angry when you offer objective, helpful criticism or advice?
—Do you often find yourself saying defensively, “It was just a joke!” Along the same lines, do you find yourself remarking on how other people don’t have a sense of humor, or can’t laugh at a little teasing?
—Do you find that even when you’re trying to be helpful by explaining something or providing information, people don’t seem to want to listen to you?
—Do you feel annoyed because people tend to refuse to acknowledge your greater experience or knowledge in an area, and instead, ignore your suggestions?
—Do people tend to change the conversation when you try to explain an insight that has led you to make a major lifestyle change?
—Do people tend to gang up against you – when you’re arguing one side, everyone takes the other side, or when one person criticizes you, everyone else chimes in?
—Do you find it funny to see other people squirm?
—If someone asks for your opinion, do you think it’s right to tell them frankly what you think?
—Do you think it’s useful to point out people’s mistakes, areas of incompetence, or previous track records of failure?
—Is it fairly common for one person to tell you that he or she will speak to a third person, so that you don’t have to? In other words, do people volunteer to act as intermediaries for you, rather than let you do your own talking?
—Do you think it’s a waste of time for people to talk about their personal lives or pursuits?
“Yes” answers may be a red flag that you’re a source of unhappiness for others. Not necessarily, but perhaps.