You need to stop being pretentious — if you are one — if your goal is to make friends. No one likes a pretentious person. They’re irritating at best, and they ruin friendships at worst.
The thing about pretentious people is that, most of the time, they don’t know they’re being pretentious. You could be one without knowing about it. That’s the first step you need to take if you want to stop being pretentious.
That said, before we discuss the things you can do so you can stop being pretentious, let’s first talk about how you can know if you are one.
You gatekeep your interests
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being excited about your interests. There’s nothing wrong with talking about them and sharing your expertise about them. The problem comes when you start gatekeeping them. This is a classic sign of pretentiousness.
Gatekeeping means putting up an illusionary bar to merit whether someone deserves to be a “fan” or a legitimate participant of a certain activity or interest. For example, if you’re a video gamer and you play five to eight hours a day, you don’t really consider someone a gamer if they don’t put in the same hours as you do.
You talk more than you should and you don’t listen to others
Pretentious people tend to speak more than they listen. They enjoy having their voices and opinions heard. Conversely, they’re not really the best listeners. If this applies to you, you’ll need to start rethinking your socializing approach.
Your words confuse others and you know it
You have a tendency of using “big words.” In fact, you enjoy it. You use these words in casual conversations and it confuses those around you. This gives you a sense of superiority over those around you as if knowing words they don’t somehow makes you more intelligent than them.
Your possessions highly matter to you
You’re someone who cares a lot about your possessions. You’re a materialistic type of person and your possessions give you a sense of self-worth.
There’s nothing innately wrong with taking pride in your possessions, of course. You’ve worked hard to get the things you have now. The problem comes when you allow your possessions to define you.
You seek gratification
One sign of a pretentious person they seek gratification of any form. Any praises, compliments, uplifters, and anything of the like. That in and of itself is a completely normal thing. We, as humans, enjoy getting complimented and getting uplifted. Pretentious people, however, actively seek them out. Expect them during most encounters, even.
You do things for the sake of impressing others
A lot of the things you do, you do for the sake of impressing others. There’s no need for you to do or say something impressive if there are no people around to impress. This also applies to possessions. You purchase and own the things you do so others will look up to you. You do this because you believe your display of wealth will impress others.
You’re in competition with everybody
Pretentious people hate getting one-upped. If someone is doing better than them, they’ll go out of their way to be in competition with that person. They always feel the need to be the “better” person. For example, if they meet someone who shares the same interest with them, they’ll make sure that they know more about that interest. Or at least make it seem like they do.
How to Stop Being Pretentious
As you’ve already realized by now, no one likes to have a pretentious person around. Don’t be this kind of person. It will be a disservice to your friends and it can ruin your social life. If you believe you are pretentious, here are the things you need to do to stop.
Be assured of your self-esteem
Most pretentious people have low self-esteem. The things they do that make them come off as pretentious are all acts of defense mechanism to mask this fact. If you want to stop being pretentious, you have to consider this first step.
Make sure you do things to build your self-esteem. Internalize and know your strengths and your weaknesses. Let go of the facade and work on the real you. Pretending to be okay by masking your real self will only go on for so long. Even worse, your fake personality will only tick off others.
Don’t confuse others by needlessly using words you’d use in a thesis when you’re only making casual conversations. Contrary to perceptions, this won’t impress others. It will only annoy them.
There’s a time and place for conversations like this. If the conversation is centered around a topic and jargon is required because they refer to the conversation at hand, that’s one example. However, if you’re simply talking about your day and how the other person has been, settle for everyday words.
Start listening more
Be a better listener if you want to stop being pretentious. Remember that not everything is about you. There’s time for you to talk and there’s time for the other person to speak up too. If you want to be heard by others, you also have to learn how to listen.
When the other person is talking to you, make sure you don’t cut them off. Listen intently. Only speak when it’s your turn to talk or they want your input on something. Others will want to listen to you too if you’re someone who’s a good listener.
Make conversations balanced
Consider this an extension of the previous tip. Aside from being a better listener, ensure that you always make conversations balanced from here on out. If you want to stop being pretentious, stop making every conversation about you. Divert the conversation to the other person as well. Otherwise, just talk about something else that’s relevant to the both of you.
You can make sure you can keep conversations balanced by asking questions. This will encourage the other person to talk. They might even throw a few back at you, thus making the conversation run smoothly on both ends.
Learn how to be more humble
Humility is one of the opposites of self-pretentiousness. Practice being more humble and you’ll never feel the need to be pretentious.
While being humble is easier said than done, as long as you employ the mindset of a humble person and take that to heart, your actions will follow. Stop the impulse to boast. Stop bragging about things. Don’t let your words paint your picture for you. Your actions should do that.
Stop trying too hard to impress everybody
You don’t have to impress everybody you meet. You can, but that shouldn’t be an active goal. Take it easy and interact with people normally. If they become impressed with you, it should be because of your natural actions and words. Not because you purposely did things or put on a facade for the sake of impressing other people.
More than in most cases, you’ll only end up annoying other people instead of impressing them if you try too hard at this. Take it easy. Be more natural and, again, be more humble. You’ll be a much better company for others then.
Know your flaws and imperfections
One thing that will allow you to have perspective so you can be more humble is to know your flaws and imperfections. Acknowledge them instead of pretending they’re not there. They’re currently part of who you are now. You can either accept them or do your best so you can get better. Either of those is better than simply putting on a mask and pretending they don’t exist.
Start by assessing which parts of you deserve to be improved. There’s bound to be one or more. Everyone has those, after all.
Once you’ve figured out your flaws and imperfections, it’s time to take it to the next level and accept yourself for who you are. Flaws and edges and all. Accept yourself and you’ll boost your self-esteem, you’ll learn how to be more humble, and you’ll stop being pretentious.
This can take a while to make happen, but as long as your intentions are pure and you truly want to stop being pretentious, you can make it happen. Just be patient and remain dedicated.
Stop one-upping other people
There’s no need for you to one-up other people anymore. Take your edge down a notch from here on. If you meet someone who shares an interest with you, take that as a good thing. If you know more about the said interest than them, good! You can impart knowledge if they need it. If they know more about it than you, then that’s good too! See that as an opportunity to learn from someone who’s more knowledgeable in a field you’re interested in.
Don’t see everyone as competition. See everyone as motivators, mentors, and as aspiring learners. Your world will be a much better place if you see things this way. On top of that, you’ll ultimately stop being so pretentious too.
Learn how to be more empathetic
Empathy is the tool of a socially adept person. This is a tool you’ll need to learn how to use as well. By being empathetic, you’ll be able to connect with others better. You’ll see and gain perspectives you otherwise never saw before. Or things you never bothered seeing.
If you want to be more empathetic, start by being a better listener. Once you can get used to that, imagine yourself in the position of the person who’s sharing stories and things with you. Imagine what it’s like to be them. Feel the emotions they’re conveying. If you can do this, you can respond and react better. You’ll make more human interactions. Everything is more meaningful.
Share your knowledge to help and inform
If you’re talking to others about a topic you’re particularly knowledgeable in, see that as an opportunity to inform. Not as an opportunity to boast. If you see things this way, you’ll be seen more as a wise person rather than as a pretentious individual.
Approach this very carefully, as there is a fine line between informing and boasting when it comes to sharing knowledge. Make sure you don’t come off preachy and arrogant. Instead, keep a humble mindset and share the things you know with those who are willing and keen to listen.
Have a more approachable demeanor
A pretentious person is someone who repels people. Be the opposite of this by being more approachable. Be more approachable and people will want to get to know you better. You’ll come off as someone who’s sweet, nice, and decent, instead of arrogant and repulsive.
If you want to make this happen for yourself, start by being kind and polite to everyone you meet. Make this a personality you want to have rather than something you force yourself to do. If that sounds hard, it’s not. Just start doing it on a daily basis and you’ll find how great and easy it is to be kind and nice.
Greet your co-workers, the people you come across on the street, your barista in your favorite coffee shop, etc. Do acts of kindness when the opportunity presents itself.
Other than that, you can also help yourself by looking presentable. Just make sure you always look proper and tidy and you’ll appear more approachable in the eyes of others.
Apologize if you’ve done something wrong
If there are people you offended in the past because of your pretentiousness, or worse, people you actively hurt, apologize. Say sorry for the things you’ve said in the past and let them know you’re trying to be better as a person.
Most people who are pretentious are relatively harmless. In worse cases, though, they can be outright insensitive and offensive. Take a look back at your history and assess whether or not you’ve hurt someone. If you have, now is the time to seek them out and atone for your mistakes.
It’s hard being pretentious, yet a lot of people do it for the slight gratification it offers. What’s worse is that this false gratification doesn’t compare to the backlash they can receive if they keep up this behavior. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you anymore by stopping from now on. Remember and internalize everything you’ve just read here.
Stop being pretentious and be a better social person. Not only will the people in your life appreciate you better for this, but your overall quality of life will be all the better for it too.