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I have a roommate who doesn't consider how his actions affect others, although it is not malicious. Whenever something is brought up he is apologetic and tries to change his ways. I'm wondering if there is a succinct word or phrase that describes this behavior?

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  • I think it's important that you clarify whether you want to express the person is just not good at realizing some of his actions might inconvenience others or whether he just does not want to do the effort to consider others' possible inconvenience. Many answers seem to assume the latter. But many people (me including) sometimes cause inconvenience, due to their let's call it "lesser social talents" in understanding what other people perceive as inconvenience (or often just due to a different way of thinking or finding different things inconvenient).
    – Lu Kas
    Apr 29, 2020 at 8:59
  • @LuKas - That's socially inept (half of which is in an answer). But the heart of the question: word that describes the behavior of someone who's socially inept while trying to apologize. - I'd need footage, because I'm honestly not sure if the OP just keeps stepping in their roommate's bs or not, which would change the applicable word by an extremely large margin, likely into the profane.
    – Mazura
    May 1, 2020 at 2:12
  • @Mazura Agreed, that is probably socially inept. Problem is that socially inept is much more general than the situation asked by the OP. But it seems an important distinction to me, because I would prefer not to call someone inconsiderate just because they don't have the social aptitude to realize they might be inconveniencing me. Certainly if that could cause a good friend to be driven away.
    – Lu Kas
    May 1, 2020 at 13:31

12 Answers 12

56

The word I would use here is oblivious. Your roommate is oblivious to the effect of his actions on others.

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  • 6
    Oh yes, that was the word on the tip of my tongue... +1
    – Artelius
    Apr 28, 2020 at 12:59
  • "Oblivious" is a great word for this, but as mentioned by another answer below, probably the best word is "inconsiderate". Inconsiderate already implies that it was not done intentionally. Apr 29, 2020 at 15:53
  • 2
    This is the best word (clueless a close second). Inconsiderate, to my ear, could also mean that the person intentionally does not take into consideration other people's feelings (as in he just does not care)
    – michael
    Apr 29, 2020 at 16:04
  • This was the first word I thought of, but it could be interpreted differently depending on context. If I say "Bob is oblivious" I could be referring to his lack of consideration for others, but I also could be referring to his lack of awareness of people stealing from him, for example.
    – barbecue
    Apr 30, 2020 at 19:24
  • (seemingly) oblivious, because I'm calling bs, having lived with assholes who behave like this (and I am by far more socially inept than they)
    – Mazura
    May 1, 2020 at 2:15
37

I believe the word inconsiderate has the unconscious nature of it hardwired. You can't consciously choose to be inconsiderate, because you're considering it at that point... if you're looking for something that's a little less pejorative, then maybe "absent minded"? "Solipsistic"? ...Honestly, inconsiderate is the word you want. It doesn't have to be a put down. It's just stating the fact that he didn't consider. Never crossed his mind. Now whatever reason you give or theorize for why it wouldn't have crossed his mind might be negative, but the word itself I don't believe is, in this context.

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    If he truly never considers anyone else when he makes desicions, ever--that would make him a pure sociopath Apr 28, 2020 at 4:52
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    Textbook definition of sociopath, +1^.
    – Mazura
    Apr 28, 2020 at 23:12
  • 4
    A person who is "consciously inconsiderate" is simply "rude".
    – Dave Tweed
    Apr 29, 2020 at 0:01
  • It's true, but hardly 'another ...'. Apr 30, 2020 at 11:29
  • Inconsiderate literally means without consideration, so it already means without deliberate thought. This is the best answer.
    – barbecue
    Apr 30, 2020 at 19:20
22

Inconsiderate or Thoughtless

'Inconsiderate' is exactly the right word for unconscious behaviour like this.
Most people aren't actively trying to be self-centred.

People don't generally weigh up the consequences of their actions.
In my experience, an average person will stop in the middle of a crowded street to answer their phone, inconveniencing everyone who was walking behind them.
Not because they don't care about people behind them, but because they didn't think about it.

It's a kind of social clumsiness. They don't do it intentionally.
They simply don't think about or or consider it.

Thoughtless or Inconsiderate accurately describes this behaviour.

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Acutely self-absorbed. (with an irritating penchant for half-hearted displays of contrition)

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I think you are trying to distinguish someone who doesn't care about others from someone who simply struggles or forgets to think ahead in relation to others.

This is quite a tricky one. The concepts are better distinguished in some languages.

(And contrary to another answer I think that, in informal language, someone who knows full well that he/she is inconveniencing others can be called inconsiderate—e.g. someone who eats half the cupcakes but doesn't care.)

I think various near-synonyms like unthoughtful, thoughtless, unthinking, careless, self-absorbed, self-seeking would have slightly different connotations in different contexts so perhaps one will work for you. (Thanks for some of these @Decapitated Soul.)

A few phrases: "in his/her own world", "a bull in a china shop", "doesn't stop and think". Or just something descriptive like "he forgets about others", "forgets to think about others", "inconsiderate but means well", "not great at considering people".

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  • You have a lot of possible answers here. I'd suggest splitting them into different answers to the question or picking one or two favourites. Apr 28, 2020 at 13:36
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Tactless: not careful about saying or doing something that could upset someone; someone who is tactless is not careful about the way that they speak or behave towards other people and so often upsets them.

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/tactless

https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/tactless

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https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/selfish

Definition of selfish

1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

2: arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others a selfish act


Discovering the correct 'diagnosis' is a good beginning if one cares and is willing help the person discover the underlying roots of the problem. The person may be open to exploring the issue, or uses an apology to as a learned response to 'get passed the rough patch'.

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"Socially comatose" would fit the bill.

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  • I'm not sure how I would interpret "socially comatose", I'm not sure that I'd land on unconsciously inconsiderate. Apr 30, 2020 at 9:51
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    Socially inept, because it is without "malice" and (we must presume with "apologetic" that) their regret is genuine. - "being inept in a social situation suggests that someone lacks typical social skills that are widely accepted, and they're unable to judge their interactions with other people in an acceptable way." – liveboldandbloom.com
    – Mazura
    May 1, 2020 at 1:54
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Self-seeking: Having concern for one's own welfare and interests before those of others - Lexico

Example: A lot of people feel that politicians are just self-seeking opportunists.


Unthoughtful: Showing little or no consideration for the needs of other people; thoughtless - Lexico

Example: How could she be so unthoughtful as to depart at such an awkward hour?

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If you want something stronger than unconsidered, perhaps "apathy" is the word to describe it.

Here is a great example for it: https://whitneyhess.com/blog/2012/08/21/on-empathy-and-apathy-two-case-studies/

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  • Nope. Apathetics wouldn't apologize because they have a "lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern". If they're willing to placate another, they are by definition not. The apathetic response to anything and everything is meh.
    – Mazura
    May 1, 2020 at 1:58
  • @Mazura .. hmm I see your point, and he would not apologize either...OK. Then he must be just unconsidered ... or possibly just inept :) grew up somewhere in the forests, never socialized. A wild man! :)
    – Deian
    May 1, 2020 at 3:00
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Unseemly: Not in keeping with established standards of taste or proper form; unbecoming or indecorous in appearance, speech, conduct, etc.

Edit: ref; https://www.dictionary.com/browse/unseemly?s=t

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  • This would be improved with a link to a dictionary definition. Apr 30, 2020 at 10:54
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Your question seems to be contradicting your explanation by a degree. Let me answer your question.

Consider undergoing a paroxysm.

  1. a sudden uncontrollable attack

Or if the person is emotionally subdued or repressed, consider callous

  1. emotionally hardened
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    What do either of these words have to do with being inconsiderate? Apr 28, 2020 at 12:44
  • @NuclearWang Not both. Callous goes along the lines of inconsiderate, doesn't it?
    – Noaman Ali
    Apr 29, 2020 at 16:57

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