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How to Deal with Annoying People

How to Deal with Annoying People

Imagine a gorgeous summer day. You have the day off and you’ve just settled into a wonderfully comfy chair on your back deck, coffee nearby, newspaper in hand. You are only two paragraphs into the front page article when someone starts to splash you. Water is coming from somewhere else in the back yard — probably the swimming pool, you realize — and it’s landing on you in spurts and waves. You ignore it; whoever it is will probably stop when he/she sees that you aren’t reacting. The splashing continues. Now this is getting a little annoying. Some water is getting into your coffee! More splashing. The water is making your newspaper soggy! How dare they!

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    You finally turn, ready to berate whoever is doing all the splashing. Suddenly, you realize you’ve been horribly wrong — the person splashing you is drowning, and what you perceived as intentional interference was them trying to stay on the surface and breathe.

    I relate this little parable to illustrate a point: most people who are annoying are actually “drowning.” They are drowning in some pain from their past, or from something they are experiencing here and now. Here are 3 keys to help you deal with these annoying people.

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    1. It’s not your job to determine what is making them drown.

    A lifeguard doesn’t stop to analyze why someone is going down, he just responds to save their life. The same goes for you — you don’t have to analyze the person who is annoying you to figure out what his/her issues are. That’s not your job. If you are being annoying to someone else — let’s face it, we all know when we are — then you’d best get to work and figure out what is going on in your head. Don’t be afraid to face whatever you find — bringing it to light automatically lets some of the air out of its tires, so to speak.

    2. You don’t have to save them.

    Just like in a real emergency, sometimes, the best thing to do is call 9-1-1 and stand by. You wouldn’t try to be a lifeguard if you can’t swim or do the job of a paramedic, would you? We’ve all heard how a drowning person can push his rescuer under. The annoying person in your life might need professional help. By all means, if they are suicidal, don’t leave them alone and do call for help (9-1-1 or a suicide hotline), but if they are just being annoying and you feel like it’s more than you can deal with, you absolutely have the right to walk away. They are only hurting you because they are hurting, and it isn’t necessarily your job to intervene. You may need to protect or distance yourself — set some boundaries — so you don’t get “pushed under.”

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    How you respond obviously depends on your relationship with the annoyer. If they are a mere acquaintance or a stranger, you might not do anything at all. Since they aren’t literally drowning, just let them splash — why waste energy being offended? If they are your customer or client, then it’s most likely your job to find out what is wrong and try to fix it. If you are in a relationship with the annoying one, then you will probably want to throw them a line (depending on the nature of the relationship). If your spouse or child is the one doing the splashing — pushing your buttons and ticking you off — see what you can do to help. Read on.

    3. If you have decided to help, give immediate assistance first.

    Lifeguards know that when a person is sinking to the bottom of the ocean, that’s not the time to try to teach him/her how to swim. Get them to the surface and save their life. Swimming lessons come later, and will probably be taught by someone other than the lifeguard.

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    Your job as spouse — this is what you signed up for when you said “I do” — is to give essential help to your annoying spouse in the form of loving attention.Your significant other is probably splashing you because he/she feels neglected or unloved — like you haven’t been listening or that you don’t care.

    1. Take a deep breath, get past the annoyance of their actions and remember that you love this person and the best way to help is to show it.
    2. Stop what you’re doing and listen. Let them know you care.
    3. Now is not the time to bombard them with advice on their issues or analyze their faults.

    The above is equally true for children; when you became a parent, it also became your job to make that little person feel loved. It’s easier when they are babies compared to toddlers or teenagers! I have heard that 90% of the time, little children (age 1 – 4) cry because they feel disconnected from their parent(s). I’m sure the same is true for older kids, just replace “cry” with “act out.”

    I can’t tell you specifically how to make that important person in your life feel loved or what the best form of attention may be, but I am sure that if you think about it now, when they aren’t annoying you, you can think of a few ways. Keep those ways in mind for the next time your buttons get pushed and, after that crucial deep breath, put them into use!

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    Teresa Griffith

    Teresa is a passionate writer who shares about productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

    “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

    Are we speaking the same language?

    My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

    When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

    Am I being lazy?

    When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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    Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

    Early in the relationship:

    “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

    When the relationship is established:

    “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

    It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

    Have I actually got anything to say?

    When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

    A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

    When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

    Am I painting an accurate picture?

    One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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    How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

    Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

    What words am I using?

    It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

    Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

    Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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    Is the map really the territory?

    Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

    A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

    I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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