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7 Ways to Deal with Annoying People and Still Get Things Done

7 Ways to Deal with Annoying People and Still Get Things Done

7 Ways to Deal with Annoying People and Still Get Things Done

    It’s a basic fact of life that, unless you’re Will Rogers, you can’t get along with everyone. Unfortunately, it’s also a fact that throughout your life, you’ll be in situations where you simply have to communicate with some of those people you just can’t stand. This may be an annoying boss, an ingratiating fan, a spineless co-worker, a difficult client, an abrasive in-law, and any number of people with any number of faults.

    As much as you might like to run away and hide when you see these people coming, you’ll often need to work with them, sometimes (too) closely, in order to achieve your goals. You don’t always have to be nice – professional and to-the-point will often get the job done just as well – but you do need to make yourself understood clearly or risk letting your dislike translate into inefficient communication that hinders or even undermined entirely whatever projects you’re working on.

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    Fortunately, all it really takes is patience  — with yourself as much as with the other person — and a little discipline to make sure you stay on the same page – and that you don’t get caught up in whatever makes them so hard to get along  with in the first place.

    1. Listen.

    A lot of conflicts are based in misunderstandings, so always make sure you’re getting everything, It can be easy enough to tune someone out when they annoy you; the trick is to use careful questioning to focus the other person on the topic at hand so they give you what you need and avoid straying too far. Poor listening leads to misunderstandings that need clarification – which means more time spent with someone you’d really rather not be around.

    2. Repeat everything.

    Besides the tendency to tune out people you’d rather avoid, our feelings about another person can color our perception of what they’re saying. To avoid this, repeat back any instructions, questions, or other problems they pose to you to make sure you absolutely understand  what they’re saying. Give them a chance to correct you before you go off half-cocked, sure you know what “that kind of person” wants.

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    3. Keep your cool.

    It’s tempting to want to argue with people who rub you the wrong way, or to lose it and start pointing out their faults. Don’t do that! Unless they’re wrong  about something  that directly and materially affects you, don’t bother – starting a debate or, worse, an argument will only prolong your agony – and neither of you is likely to change your mind. Save the debates for when you’re with friends whose opinions matter to you.

    4. Be clear about boundaries.

    You don’t have to be friends with everyone. Which means you don’t have to do favors for everyone who asks. If someone’s encroaching on your time, simply tell them, “I’m sure this is important to you but it simply isn’t a priority for me right now. I really need to work on x and not y.” Again, there’s no need to be mean, just redirect the conversations whenever conversation drifts into areas that aren’t relevant and where you know you’ll be annoyed.

    5. Fight fire with ice.

    The  worst thing you can do with an angry or irrational person is engage him or her. In the heat of aggression, any word or action interpreted as aggressive in response will only trigger more aggression – and most of the item, if someone is upset and railing about it, every word and action will be read as aggression. As hard as it might seem to do, the best thing is to sit quietly and let them spend themselves ranting and raving, and then ask if they’d like to schedule a time to discuss the matter more calmly and return to whatever you were doing. If this sets off another round of yelling, simply wait it out and repeat.

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    It sucks, but the bottom line is you have nothing to gain by engaging with an irate person in the heat of the moment. And while it may seem that you’re giving up control of the situation – after all, you’re sitting there passively taking it all in, even abuse – most people feel ashamed and contrite after an outburst, especially one in which their target clearly was not responding to or inciting them, which puts you back in charge when there’s actually something you can do about the situation.

    6. Close the door.

    While you may have to interact with people you don’t care for in any number of situations, remember that your time  is your own and don’t let other people, especially ones you’d rather not interact with, take control of your time.

    Communication outside of the narrow band needed to fulfill both of your objectives should be minimized – which often means forcefully limiting such talk. Make it clear when you are unavailable, and make yourself unavailable as often as possible. If you have the power, require that your partner make an appointment, and gently reject any effort to discuss your work or projects outside of that scheduled time. People – even annoying people – tend to respect the time of people who make a clear showing that they take their own time very seriously.

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    7. You’re valuable. Remember it.

    If you’ve found yourself in a position where you are obligated for some reason to spend time with someone you dislike, remember that most likely, they are in the same position – and it’s you they dislike. But you wouldn’t be in that situation if you didn’t provide something of value – whether that’s a work skill or talent, specialized knowledge, even things as abstract as emotional support or solidarity. You have a mission, so to speak, and everything that distracts you from that mission reduces your value.

    Remember that, and don’t be afraid to remind others of that. You are valuable, which means they need you as much as you need them. If you’re spending your working time listening to someone on your team going on and on about the sandwich she made the night before for her lunch today, it’s ok to remind her that she’s not making the best use of the value  you bring.

    People that are annoying, difficult, selfish, boring, or otherwise a chore to deal with are that way for reasons that have nothing to do with you – it’s not your job to fix, engage with, or indulge those tendencies. Don’t worry abut figuring them out or correcting them, worry instead about how you’re going to manage their  annoyances  without letting it hinder your ability to achieve your own goals. What is your place is to take the control the other person has clearly relinquished, and making sure you get out of the contact what you need. The tips above will help.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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