How to Deal With Annoying People You Don't Like and Can't Stand
How to Deal With Annoying People
I think we've all been there. There's that one person who walks into the room and sends your frustration level over the top—maybe it's the sound of their voice, their laugh, their jokes, or their ego. It could be your coworker, your boss, your mother-in-law, a teacher, or someone you regularly have to interact with.
When we are dealing with people we can't stand, we feel our blood boil. Even as adults, we swallow our words but secretly fantasize about telling them how we really feel. We imagine how satisfying it would be to turn to them and say something harsh once and for all. If only they knew how annoying they are, right?
Well, the hardest part about this life lesson is that in order to come out on top of the situation and make peace, we have to do some internal work. That annoying person is likely never going to change. If it's something habitual that they do that bugs you like leaving a mess behind or listening to terrible music, that's one thing, but if it's something about them—their personality, character, or mere existence—it's going to take more work than that.
Are They Sucking Your Energy?
You know that saying, "The only person who can make you feel bad about yourself is you?" Are you giving them too much power? Stop feeding their lousy energy and channel your energy inward to energize yourself.
10 Tips for How to Work With Difficult People
Get excited. You are about to discover some super strategic tips and tricks to deal with annoying people. Every situation is different, but here are some of the best strategies. Here's how to deal with and disarm annoying people.
1. Have a Game Plan
You need to have a game plan scripted out every time you see this person and it needs to be followed. The first thing I recommend is making sure you check in with yourself internally and take a deep breath. When this person first engages with you, take a deep breath and visualize sending your breath through your body—soothing and dissolving any physical tension you are holding onto. We hold a lot of our anger in our chest, our throat, and our shoulders. Disarm your body and stop preparing for an "attack." Being constantly on edge is only poisoning your body with stress hormones.
2. Kill Them With Kindness
Some people are annoying because they are bullies and want to rub you the wrong way. They may be a narcissist, they may have unresolved issues, they may have personality disorders—you name it. The cool thing about kindness is that:
- You win. Kindness is the ultimate disarming mechanism.
- You feed yourself with positive vibes even if you have to fake it.
- They don't have a leg up on you.
- You will look good.
- You control the situation.
Yeah, so maybe this is a little selfish, but that's the way it has to be. By keeping things light and sugar-sweet, you keep things in control.
3. Keep the Conversation Brief
When the annoying person comes into the room be the aggressor, say, "Hi ____, how are you?" Give them a warm smile. This way, you immediately set the tone. When they do that thing that annoys you, like pry at your personal life, say something totally superficial like, "You're so funny" or "Oh, it's not that interesting." If it's someone like your boss and they are belittling you, answer with a very neutral, disarming statement like "Sure thing, you got it."
4. Compliment Them
When they are realllllly starting to get on your nerves, like going off on one of their critical tangents and you find yourself getting ready to react, instead of snapping and looking bad, surrender to the feeling of frustration welling up in your chest and disarm them. Say something like, "I see your point," or "Wow, thanks so much for sharing." You don't have to mean it 100%, but often times annoying people just want to be heard and acknowledged—that's why they are so annoying. They are compensating for something.
5. Have an Ally
If you are dealing with someone who has it out for you, don't put yourself in a position to be alone with them. Go into the break room with a trusted coworker, time your bathroom breaks or lunch breaks separately, choose projects that don't involve them. Keep yourself preoccupied too when this person is in the spotlight. Redirect your focus from the annoying tone of their voice by tapping your foot or taking notes. You can pretend you are watching the person perform on tv or in a movie; removing them from your reality is a good way to disarm their presence.
6. Don't Take It Personally
You know that saying, "The only person who can make you feel bad about yourself is you?" Are you giving them too much power? Take that energy you are feeding into their poor behavior and turn it back to you. Instead of pushing energy towards this person everytime you see them, turn that energy inward. Envision yourself with a glowing, self-preserving shield around you. If they deplete your energy when they are around cut them off. Don't let them into your energetic field.
7. Make Them Small
We let these people have so much power over us. Maybe it's your boss who is constantly on you, berating you, and making you feel small. Maybe they are intimidating and hard to deal with every time they get ahold of you.
Play a mental game with yourself. Envision that person you really dislike in a compromising way. They may look big and bad in the work environment, but maybe they go home and wear a flannel onesie. Maybe they sit on the toilet for 30 minutes every morning just to go to the bathroom. They are human after all, right? Picture them outside of their ego-feeding domain.
8. Use the Fuel
Go burn off some stress in a healthy manner. Do you work out? Take your anger and frustration out on your weight lifting activity. Use it to get juiced and pumped. There's no better workout than one that is totally fueled by passion—even if it's displeasure. It's better to purge your emotions in a healthy manner than to keep them bottled up.
9. Practice Compassion and Surrender
This is the most important lesson of all. When I really could not stand one of my coworkers—she always used to greet me in a high-pitched voice, sabotage my work, and micromanage me—I finally looked at her with compassion. I thought, "Wow, here is someone who has been doing the same job for 20 years, is outside of this work demographic, probably feels threatened by fresh minds and sharp skills, and probably feels inadequate. That too, and she probably is trying hard to fit in. She doesn't know how to interact with me and doesn't understand me."
What I started looking at her with compassion. I surrendered and accepted her faults and all. Every time she made her high-pitched voice and called my name I laughed and smiled. Everytime she sad something catty to me to rock my psyche, I used it as fuel to be even more badass.
10. Stop Hating Your Coworker, Family, Boss, etc.
Ouch! Hate is a strong word but it is a true human emotion and often associated with distaste, loathing, anger, and disgust. We all know that emotion, and sometimes it is extremely valid. But hate is also a toxic emotion to harbor. It will eat away at you from the inside out. In fact, many people believe that negative emotions—because they release stress hormones like cortisol and trigger inflammation in the body—can actually manifest into disease. Do not poison yourself with negativity. Stop the cycle here.
Why Do We Feel Jealousy and Hatred?
Ohh jealousy, the green-eyed monster. It's the worst and the hardest to identify. Whenever I used to complain about how much someone would annoying me, a close friend of mine used to say, "Sometimes you don't like traits in others because you have those qualities in yourself" (either suppressed or unsuppressed). Could it be?
The Inappropriate Coworker
Maybe there's a woman in your work environment that you can't stand. She thinks she's all this and that. She dresses a certain way, moves a certain way, talks a certain way, and thinks she's the most important person in the world. Maybe she even flirts and acts inappropriately in your eyes. As a moral, reserved person, you cannot stand the behavior.
Here's something for thought: Maybe, just maybe, there's a part of you deep, deep inside that wants to feel feminine, free, and seductive. It doesn't mean you have to act out on it because perhaps you are conservative or have beliefs against it, but . . . we often envy what we feel deprived of.
The Arrogant Coworker
Similarly, perhaps your coworker is arrogant. He walks in and treats you like you're nothing, and he messes up at work and doesn't bat an eye. Maybe he drives a hideous convertible and parks it in the front parking lot for everyone to see. He thinks he's the man. You, on the other hand, are reserved, smart, hard-working, and humble. Did it ever occur to you that maybe YOU don't want to give a damn about anyone, drive that ugly convertible, and walk into a place like you just don't care?
It's okay if the answer is "no" to all of this. I know that my jealousy over the years has surfaced from feelings of inadequacy, feeling threated, frustrated, and from having low self-esteem.
How to Use Jealousy to Your Advantage
Use your nemesis for inspiration. I am not kidding here! Instead of hating them, see them as a character in a movie—and use their clownish ways as inspiration for your alter ego. Maybe one day your boss sends you an email and critiques your work. Instead of feeling bad, reframe your thinking to, "Well, I'm competent and great, I've got this." If you slink around in your drab work outfit, maybe one day let your hair down and wear some color. Strut your stuff and enjoy. Life is for living, remember? Our clocks keep ticking.
How to Deal With Bullying and a Toxic Workplace
If you are working in a toxic environment or dealing with someone who is verbally, emotionally, or mentally abusive, something aggressive needs to be done. Before you make your move, it's important that you smartly document every occurrence. I have had the unfortunate experience of working in a toxic work environment where there was constant bullying and hazing. I stuck it out for a long time thinking it was me until I watched them do it new hires.
The Toxic Coworker
If you are in a toxic work environment you should seriously consider reporting the behavior. I know this is scary because it could be workplace suicide. In my situation, everyone was too afraid to report the bullies. I eventually transferred to a different worksite. I can't tell you how relieving this was. I've also seen people get successfully fired for bullying.
If you do need to make a move, time it with a promotion or apply for a different position. The bullies will want to keep prying to break you. Keep your composure. In the weeks leading up to your transfer, watch your back. They will have it out for you. Keep yourself in check and just remind yourself you will be done soon. Don't take anything personally. Continue to be kind and leave them in the dust.
Report the Behavior
If you have been documenting the abuse and bullying, good job. When the time is right, consider reporting the behavior to someone you trust. This act can be extremely scary, but this person needs to go. I worked in a setting where people finally came together and reported the abuser. That person got fired and the workplace became peaceful.
How to Deal With a Toxic Household and Family Members
If you are in a position where you are old enough and earn enough to move out, you need to move out for self-preservation. Physical, emotional, and mental abuse are all not acceptable and even illegal. If someone is calling you names every day, this can effect your self-esteem and performance on the long-term. All living things are sensitive to energy.
Students exposed living plants to both negative and positive dialogue for 30 days straight and recorded their observations. It was found that the plants that were bullied for 30 days failed to thrive, and the plants that were spoken to kindly flourished. The same thing goes for humans—you are a product of your environment, so if you're surrounded by negative people, get out.
Go to Counseling
If things are really bad in your home environment, you or the person who is affecting you (or you alone) should seek out counseling. If the situation is really bad, social workers may get involved. If it is a spouse or child who is affecting you, they need counseling. People often repeat what was done to them in their childhood, so it is likely they have unresolved, deep psychological wounds. There is no point in being "brave" or "tough." Even if you are, you can't afford to lose your energy and sanity defending yourself.
An Important Lesson That I Learned
I was once taking a college class in my 20s. There was one student, let's call him Sam. He was literally so disruptive during class. As a serious student, it really bugged me. I wondered why he was so needy for attention, always joking, always interrupting, always flirting, even being rude to the teacher. I never understood what was going on with him, so I always kept my distance.
One morning my teacher came in looking extremely distraught. It took a lot of courage from her to announce that Sam had committed suicide at 5:30 am in the morning while he was waiting for the train. It was such a sad realization. His behavior was really just a cry for help. I never would have thought this by looking at his superficial disposition. It was a pretty poignant moment in my life.
How to Deal With Anger: Practice Acceptance
Many toxic people really just want attention or want a rise out of others. They are suffering inside. If you realize just how badly they are suffering inside, your perspective of them might change. That annoying person may be desperately seeking companionship. That bully may wake up every day and call themselves ugly. That boss might be caring for a sick parent at home and on their last thread and be physically, emotionally, financially exhausted. That coworker may be going through a divorce and depressed.
If we take a step back and look at our human traits, we can see a lot of ourselves in each other. Keep this in mind but also keep the abovementioned tips in your tool bag and good luck finding peace once and for all!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Layne Holmes