Annoying people are an inevitable fact of life. Whether you have a difficult boss, a mate that annoys the hell out of you or come up against an irritating customer service assistant, there are some useful ways to handle them that will stop you getting walked all over.
STAY POSITIVE IN SPITE OF THE PRESENCE OF ANNOYING PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE
THE ‘IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME’ STRATEGY
I once had to share an office cubicle with a guy who showed me every single one of his son’s Facebook posts every day. His son was in his first year of college and had a lot of free time to post mindless stuff. At the beginning I feigned interest. From then on it was incessant.
The best way to deal with it without being brutal and hurting the guy’s feelings was to blame it on me.
I would say things like “sorry, I didn’t get much sleep last night, so I’m not really in the mood”. That would usually buy me a day of peace. If I was glazing over and not responding to his conversation, I would say “sorry, I’m just super swamped at the moment. Let’s catch up later”. I didn’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings; he was just really irritating.
THINK ABOUT HOW YOU APPEAR TO THEM
Some of the traits we find most repulsive about ourselves are the traits we find most irritating in other people. Coming up against someone you find totally annoying and overbearing can often be like holding up a mirror to yourself.
Once you accept this, often the irritating habit dissolves in your mind and things in the relationship begin to function.
I find this most apparent when I am at a dinner party. I used to get irritated by other guests who tried to one-up everybody else. It was like a game of who could say the most impressive thing and then who could top it. I only learnt to manage these individuals once I realised I did exactly the same thing on a regular basis.
As soon as I noticed this, I stopped doing it and it didn’t bother me so much when others did.
WORK OUT THEIR MOTIVATION
This is another strategy I use to stop people from getting under my skin. I wonder why they are doing what they are doing. In the case of my work colleague, he was evidently just very proud of his son and wanted to express his pride by showing me his Facebook profile as often as he could.
Once you establish why someone is doing something, it sometimes becomes much easier to tolerate their behaviour and warm to them.
DON’T LET YOURSELF SPIRAL
There is a tendency to get more and more frustrated with people we find annoying. It becomes a cat and mouse game with yourself to see how wound up they can make you. Then you feel like your dislike for them is legitimate.
However, in most cases, they have no idea they are irritating you and by spiralling out of control, you are the one in the wrong.
If someone is repeatedly doing something you find annoying, you can set boundaries for them. For example, if your friend is constantly late and it’s driving you insane. Tell them straight up that it bothers you but that you are willing to accept it every once in a while but not too frequently.
That way this person knows that it bothers you and exactly what sort of behaviour is within the bounds of acceptable behaviour.
DON’T RISE TO AN ARGUMENT
For some people, the fun is in the petty argument. It can be tempting to get into an argument with them but arguing with them over how petty their behaviour is. It just makes you look as bad as them.
Wait until the moment has passed and things are going well and tell them that you thought their behaviour was unacceptable and that you are not an argumentative person and have no interest with arguing with them in the future.
Some people have a trigger that sets them off. If your boss gets irritated by petty spelling mistakes, lateness or the length of your lunch break, try and be mindful and accommodating. There is no sense in exacerbating the situation.
Too many people complain about other people on social media. Find the unfollow button and use it. Unfriending is a term we use with social media but there is nothing stopping you doing the same thing in real life.
If someone is really annoying, review the situation and consider the fact that you don’t like them and have little or nothing to do with them. People change and relationships change, you are entitled to end any relationship you want.
REPEAT THEIR WORDS BACK TO THEM
Repeating their words back at them and asking if they intended them to sound like that can be a wake-up call to some people that the way they are talking to others is unacceptable.
Dealing with people you find unbearable is an art form. The sooner you find a strategy that works for you, the better your relationships will become. Just remember to stay calm and don’t lose your temper. Then the annoyed becomes the annoyer.