One of the more difficult tasks of public speaking is finding the right balance between portraying competence and warmth. Sometimes in an effort to be strong and persuasive, we just come off looking and sounding like jerks. So we need to be aware of the communication habits that might make us appear aggressive.

Here are 6 habits that could be blocking your efforts to persuade and connect with your audience.

1. Staring
Eye contact is a powerful and intimate form of communication. If you engage in prolonged eye contact with someone, that can make him or her feel uncomfortable. Social worker Katherine Schreiber says that staring is an “apparent visual display of dominance [which] has long been attributed to how evolution has conditioned us to respond to threats and also to how accustomed we’ve become, as a species, to inferring our place in a perceived social hierarchy.” So when you stare at someone, it can be perceived as trying to assert dominance or power over them.

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