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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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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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