If you’re worried about annoying and irritating other people and are looking for solutions to solve that problem, you’re already halfway there.
Becoming more self-aware is essential for personal growth. However, it can be challenging to know where to begin.
Here’s how to be less annoying, as discussed by experts.
Alison Maslin-Maratos, BA, BSW, MSW, RSW
Clinical Therapist | Founder, Maratos Counselling and Consulting Services
Being intentionally annoying is not something most of us do willingly. However, those who worry that they may be annoying to others may be wise to take a step back and analyze why they believe that they may be annoying others.
Quite often, “annoying” responses are a result of anxiety responses. They are a response to the voices in your head called “negative self-talk”, which cause you to call into question your responses, your connections with others, their motivations for the relationship with you.
For example, if you have asked someone to dinner via text, and they have yet to respond, the self-talk you experience may be: “They didn’t get my text”, “I need to know if we’re going”, “maybe I should text them again”, “maybe I should call…”. In essence, the self-talk in the mind of the “annoying” person is so loud, that they forget to empathize with the receiver of the text, and they push to be heard and get the response they are looking for.
If this rings true for you, stop and think about this scenario. You may be efficient, organized and practical. You cannot understand why someone would not respond to a text immediately. The longer you wait for a response, the more agitated you become, eventually pestering the other person to get your answer.
To counter this agitation and anxiety, you can adopt a few simple skills:
Are you failing to consider what the other person has going on? Are you considering that their lack of response may have nothing to do with you at all?
Make a rule that you will ask something of someone else and leave it for a designated period of time (hours, not minutes). If they do not respond, go back to tip one, and then decide if you are going to reach out again.
Ask yourself, are you giving them sufficient time to respond? Are you considering what they have going on in their life?
Think about tone
Take a look at your texts and emails. Are they short and to the point? Do they have a judgmental or passive-aggressive tone to them? If you are not sure, ask someone whom you trust.
Sometimes the way in which a request or reminder is delivered can be perceived as annoying. Take the opportunity to use the feedback and practice some less annoying responses.
Once you send a message or put something “out there”, forget about it. Go back to your work, read a book or watch a movie. Continuing to ruminate about it and weigh the pros and cons of your next move will increase the likelihood of an annoying response.
Remember, your perception that you are annoying may be just that: a perception.
Check-in with those whom you trust to ask them about your communication style
Be prepared to receive honest feedback about how you talk, text or email. Perhaps an honest validation that you could benefit from “stepping back” from pushing others via annoying communication could be just the reminder you need to fix this issue.
Becoming more aware of the connections between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can help you break the cycle of persistent, annoying behavior.
Try to become aware of what feelings are triggered by your thoughts
Ask yourself why you are feeling this way and what evidence do you have that these emotions are actually real. Quite often, we are triggered by events (a text not being returned) that remind us of a past event that really upset us (being stood up on a date).
We associate the potential rejection with negative feelings, so we behave impulsively in order to avoid a repeat of those feelings.
Take time to process these feelings before you react
Breathe, write down how you are feeling, or go for a walk. If you give yourself the time to really understand what you are feeling and what it is motivated by, you are more likely to change the resultant behavior.
Donna Shin, LCPC
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor | Founder, Donna Shin Therapy and Wellness
She heard him say, which was not the first time, “I don’t mean to be annoying, I’m just naturally annoying.” This frustrated her. If a husband knows that he’s annoying why doesn’t he do something to change? He has a choice.
The scenario above is one of many possibilities in experiencing annoyance with others. Let’s use this example to explore what someone can do to be less annoying by following these steps:
Recognize you are annoying someone
The husband has some awareness that he is being annoying to his wife by his comment that he is “ naturally annoying.” Is this an admission of wanting to take responsibility or just an arrogant statement? It really depends on his response.
Respond with empathy and understanding
If this husband can become very curious and humble himself to ask his wife questions, he could gain a deeper understanding into exactly what it is that he is doing that annoys her. She is feeling better too because her frustration is being addressed and validated.
Reflect on opinions from others
Reflecting on what his wife says can offer him insight into himself and his behaviors. Now is where he can decide to take action and make a change. Or, his lack of empathy will become apparent and send up a red flag.
Redirecting his words, nonverbal communications, or behaviors with his now informed insights will create an opportunity to see if he really can change his “naturally annoying” ways. The well-being of his relationship may depend on it.
Gina M. Weatherup
President, Chantilly Mediation and Facilitation
If you’ve gotten feedback that you’re annoying, one of the best things you can do is to ask about it
Probably not directly in the moment: This feedback can be disturbing or hurtful, so take some time to digest it. Get curious about what, in your own behaviors, might have led the other person to call you annoying. No one is perfect, and the kindest people in the world can become annoying if their needs are not being met.
Remember that “annoying” can mean different things to different people.
Ask, kindly, if the person who gave you this feedback would be open to talking with you more about it. If they’re not open to it, ask someone else! In this case, you can choose a person whose opinion you trust.
Whomever you speak with, be open
Focus just on listening to them to understand where they’re coming from. Do not focus on defending yourself! Only by understanding how the other person experiences you can you even consider taking steps to be less annoying to them.
And odds are, once you focus on listening to them, they will begin to see you as less annoying – especially if you offer to make a change to your behavior and then really do it.
Certified Mental Health Consultant, Enlightened Reality | Relationship Expert, Maple Holistics
It all comes down to this: that which is annoying to you, don’t do to others
Being self-aware is the first step to adjusting the way we interact with each other. Whether it’s personal hygiene, personal space, or just being oblivious to those around you, there are certain things that one should take into consideration when in social situations.
Just like any self-improvement, it’s a process and can be challenging, but those closest to you will appreciate your effort. Be mindful of how your behavior and the things you say may be perceived by others and slow down your life so that you can think before you act.
Do not offer advice unless you are asked for it explicitly
I am guilty of this annoying behavior. As a born problem-solver and author of many multi-award-winning nonfiction books, I used to believe that when people told me about their problems they were looking for solutions or best advice. (Wasn’t this why they told me about their problem?)
Hoping that I could be helpful, I listened closely to identify all aspects of the problem and then shared tips and tricks I discovered over the years. That was, until one of my best friends told me, “You think you are a know-it-all but I could have found this on the Internet myself.” Hint: “Well, why didn’t you?” is not a good response.
Since this experience, I make a point to wait if people also ask, “What do you think I should do?” but they rarely do. In reality, often, people just want to vent. Showing empathy for their problems others more than the best advice.
As head of a business, I’m always keeping annoyance in mind. No one wants to deal with someone who is annoying so I try to assess my behaviors as well as those of my employees with that in mind.
Here are some tips:
One of the most annoying things a person can do is talk. A conversation is a pleasant experience for most, but when one person dominates that conversation and turns it into a monologue, no one remains interested and definitely isn’t interested in repeating the experience. Instead of taking it over, participate by listening and contributing.
Be less selfish
The world doesn’t revolve around you and when you act as though it does, others notice. Don’t cut people off to insert something about yourself.
Don’t relate every story back to something about you. Instead, consider what someone else is saying and ask them to elaborate on how that affected them.
Don’t be superior
There’s a difference between superiority and confidence. Confidence is attractive, a strength, but superiority is when someone looks down on you. No one enjoys the frustration that comes along with feeling as though someone thinks less of you.
Jazz Musician | Writer
The word “annoying” is a loaded word because it’s not clinically descriptive, but rather a judgment call. And whose judgment? Do you think you’re annoying, or does someone else?
Words like “annoyance” are more indicative of a mismatch in a relationship than a character flaw. It’s tempting to decide that you are annoying when you may simply annoy some people. And who doesn’t?
It’s better to examine a relationship with the other person rather than a character trait within yourself
Is it possible that you want to have relationships and friendships with people who are a mismatch with you? Are you discounting the relationships you have with people whom you do not annoy?
If your goal is to become the kind of person who can have a relationship/friendship interaction with anyone, then you can study the art of marketing, human psychology, acting.
You can learn what kinds of things tend to annoy the people you crave to be with, and you can be perpetually mindful of them. This may open up opportunities for you, and it may also be the beginning of an exhausting and artificial existence.
If your goal, on the other hand, is to have meaningful relationships with people who care about you, then decide which ones are worth keeping.
Recognize that in a good relationship, personality traits that do not destroy it can be tolerated. Meanwhile, you can actively work to monitor and correct whatever traits that do damage your particular relationship.
Founder & CEO, The Broke Backpacker
Being full of beans, I admit I can be super annoying to most people, who have since told me all they wanted to do was tell me to shut up.
My issue has been with quiet or shy people. I always feel the need to fill the ‘awkward’ silence, which unbeknownst to me – is perfectly acceptable for most other people. Over talking can really annoy people and I have certainly been guilty of that.
Not only that, the things I were saying were mainly fluff and I tended to not hear what responses were before going into my next monologue.
The way to be less annoying is to read the situation and mimic the other person
If they are quiet and talk sporadically then follow suit. Reflecting others behavior is a great way to get them to like you and build a rapport.
Also, listen and ask questions
People’s favorite subject is often themselves, so why don’t you indulge them to curry some favor. After all, I’m sure you’ll get your chance too.
Founder, Sleeping Lucid
Balancing your emotions and sleep make you a happier and more approachable person
Lack of sleep affects your emotional state and outlook in life. This is because sleep triggers emotions like tiredness and fatigue, anxiety, and depression. When a person suffers from these feelings and disorders, they might seem burdensome and annoying to some people.
Better quality sleep improves your mental and emotional health since it gives you the rest your body desperately needs and it allows you to balance hormones that play a big factor in your emotions such as oxytocin and serotonin.
Freelance Copywriter | Social Media Manager | Author, Maroon in a Sky of Blue
The art of listening is hard to master and one of the best ways to avoid conflict and be less annoying. Most arguments and disagreements stem from the fact that at least one of us don’t listen to each other.
If you’re in love with your own voice, chances are high that you can’t shut up and are annoying. Peter Bregman recognizes that listening is central to solving many problems. Instead of offering advice, just be there with the person to listen and that will instantly make them feel better.
It is known only to a select few but it is extremely hard to be annoying when you’re smiling. Try it for yourself and let us know the difference it made.
Keep your word
Being flaky and being annoying go hand in hand. Breaking a promise is another way of saying that someone isn’t worth your time. It really doesn’t matter if it is a professional meeting, a coffee date, weekend plans, or a 15-day long international trip – it is indispensable to keep your word.
Most people who are annoying are either not self-aware or don’t care. Both of which are negatives attitudes.
Ask those who are close to you, “Are there any habits of mine you find annoying?” or “Who do you find annoying and what makes them annoying?”. Quite often there is an underlying cause for the habit or behavior. Once you know what the cause is you can address the cause.