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9 Ways To Manage People Who Bother You

9 Ways To Manage People Who Bother You

Ever faced people who bother you? I’m sure all of us have faced such people before. It’s okay when we have to face them just once or twice, but there are times when these people emerge in facets of our life where we have to deal with them on an ongoing basis. They can be business associates, fellow colleagues, friends, or even family members and relatives. In such cases, we have to learn how to deal with them. Here are my 9 tips to handle such people:

1. You can only change yourself.

When dealing with people, always remember that it’s not about changing others, but about changing yourself. You can try to change others, but you may not succeed doing so. The best way to address the situation is to change how you perceive it and how you react to it. By changing that, everything else will subsequently change as well.

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2. Draw your boundaries.

Be clear on what you will tolerate and what you will not tolerate. Then stick with it. You have your own personal space and it’s your perogative to protect your space. By drawing the boundaries, even if just mentally, you are clearer of the kind of behaviors to expect from others. If you don’t do so, it’s easy for you to be pushed over by others, especially since such people tend not to be conscious of personal boundaries. You’ll wind up shrinking in a corner and feeling miserable, and you wouldn’t want that.

3. Be upfront about where you stand.

If the person has a history of spilling into your personal space, then let him/her know where you stand the next time you communicate. People aren’t mind readers, and sometimes they may not be aware that they are infringing on your space. Giving the person some indicators will help. If he/she tends to take up a lot of your time, then let him/her know that you have XX minutes at the onstart of the conversation. That way, you are being fair by informing him/her in advance. If you prefer to communicate via email/text/chat/other channels, then let him/her know too.

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4. Be firm when needed.

If the person does not stick within the boundaries, then enforce them. Give a gentle reminder at first. If he/she still does not get the hint, then make a call and draw the line right there. I used to be very relenting in my communications. I would attend the person for however long it took. In the end it enroached on my personal space, and I wasn’t sure if all that time and energy I spent ever did anything too. As I gradually pushed back and became firm on my boundaries, I was a lot more fulfilled. I realized if I wasn’t meeting my needs, I couldn’t be helping anyone with theirs.

5. Ignore them.

Ignoring is effective in the right moments. When you respond, you give them a reason to continue their behavior. If you just ignore, they don’t have a choice but to seek out someone else. Not only that, it also hints to them about their behavior and helps them do some self-reflection.

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6. Don’t take it personally.

Most of the times, these people behave the same way around others too. I had a friend who was very negative. She always had something to criticize whenever we were together. At first I thought she had something against me, but after I observed her interacting with our common friends, I realized she was like that with everyone else too. Realizing it wasn’t anything personal helped me deal with her objectively.

7. Observe how others handle them.

Watching others deal with the same person you find annoying can be an eye-opening perspective. Even if the person may be at his/her wits-end handling the individual, just observing from a third party’s point of view can give you insights on how to manage. The next time you are with this person, get someone else into the conversation too. Take a back seat by broaching a topic that’s relevant between the two of them, then play the silent role in the situation. Observe how the other party handles him/her. Try this exercise with different people – from savvy networkers, someone you find difficult to deal with as well, someone similar to you, etc. You will get interesting results.

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8. Show kindness.

Often times, they act the way they do because they are looking for an empathetic ear. Hear what they have to say, and be empathetic towards them. Give them some friendly act of kindness. Don’t impose on them, but just be there and empathize. It might well do the trick.

There was once when I had a long talk with a client on an issue she was facing. Later in the week, I sent her an sms telling her that ultimately it boiled down to her, and as long as she believed in herself, there was nothing insurmountable. Many weeks after that, we were catching up, and she told me how the message was really encouraging for her. She normally deleted all her smses but left that one in her phone. A little kind act from you may take little effort on your part but mean the world to others.

9. Help them.

Beneath the facade is really a cry for help. Check with them if they need any help, or if there is anything you can do to help them. Sometimes, it’s possible they require help but they don’t know how to articulate it. Help them to uncover their problem, then work with them to analyze the issue and discover the solution. It’s important to still let them take charge in the situation, because the end outcome is you want them to learn to take control of the situation, and not grow dependent on you for help.

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Celestine Chua

Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

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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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