No one starts out annoying. In fact, most annoying people try to be supportive and helpful. However, their noble attributes can be perceived as negative when others feel stressed in the company of these well-intentioned friends/ relationship partners and avoid them. This in turn triggers a cycle of stress: The annoying people try even harder to be more helpful in order to get the validation of those running in the other direction which causes them to run faster.
If you find yourself on the outer realm of social circles, or that people are cutting you off with a “got to go,” it might be time to take a personal inventory of your communication style and content. Obviously, critical or judgmental remarks, and sneering body language would be easily identifiable as socially isolating. The problem occurs when what you perceive as positive communication becomes grating to someone else.
5 Annoying habits (actions that trigger stress in others):
- The number one annoying habit based on a random sample: Waiting to speak rather than wholeheartedly listening. This signals you are not attentive to the other person speaking, or even worse you are trivializing them. In negotiation this tears down relationships as opposed to building them. In romantic relationships, this leads to destructive conflict – the need to be right - as opposed to compromise.
- The second stress inducing habit: Inserting yourself and going one better when someone is relating a personal experience. “Oh you think that was sad, well listen to what happened to me…” Often it is best to follow the person’s conversational lead and let them announce their reality. Then you can express your compassion by nodding or briefly commenting. Otherwise you are manifesting a self-centered behavior.
- The third annoying habit and often attributed in caricatures of mothers-in-law: Stop giving gratuitous advice and seeking to impose it. This places you on a higher plane of existence and makes you a control freak. If you are asked for advice, offer it briefly and freely without expecting it to be taken. Otherwise just listen. Consider that sometimes other people don’t want your advice, but wish to announce their reality to another human being to let it go. They really want to figure it out alone.
- Might you be annoyingly cheerful? When people are grieving or in pain, telling them to cheer up not only invalidates their loss and does not allow them to feel what they need to process, but also is presumptuous. No, you don’t know how they feel.
- Lastly, an annoying habit which stresses out both people close to you and strangers: Invading another person’s sensory space by speaking loudly, wearing too much cologne or perfume, spreading out your accoutrements, playing your music or chewing loudly. This is particularly annoying at work, the gym, in your home, or on public transportation. You are trespassing on another person’s shared environment.
For more information on managing your stress and reclaiming your life read my book, Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show