5 Steps to Manage Annoying People

Cultivating compassion for challenging folks.

Posted Dec 15, 2020

“They’re just so annoying.”

It’s a phrase I hear so often from so many of my clients. Whether you work with teens or have one of your own, “annoying” is an adjective you’re probably familiar with, too. Honestly, my own son and daughter have been known to make this comment at various points in our relationship. One of my college-aged clients started our recent session “annoyed.” She was home on Thanksgiving break. My client, already stressed, vented that her mom’s behavior made her feel even more stressed out, frustrated, and overall, annoyed.

“Annoying”

Teens typically use the phrase “annoyed” or “annoying” to describe a multitude of feelings. Underneath this umbrella term, I usually find that my clients feel unseen and unheard; disrespected and dismissed; and very often misunderstood. These feelings are manifested in frustration and disappointment that they often describe as being annoyed. 

My client, using her tools she’s learned through coaching, ultimately understood that her mom’s behaviors had triggered her because she possesses those very same behaviors herself. Those behaviors are her way of managing her feelings of uncertainty and fear when she feels out of control. She was also able to appreciate how these same behaviors are also partially responsible for what has led to her mom’s professional success, as well as to her own success in several areas of her life, as well.

My client has been committed to doing the inner work that coaching is ideal for. Increasing both her self- and other-awareness, in addition to managing her mind, has opened her up to no longer being reactive in situations. Managing your own mind and making sense of your emotions will also help you make a shift in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, too. 

Sianstock/Canva
Source: Sianstock/Canva

Compassion

The meaning of compassion is to recognize the suffering of others and then take action to help. Compassion for others, especially for those who may annoy us, can ultimately lead us to compassion for ourselves. Self-compassion dissolves the need for making others the enemy. Simply learning to see the suffering others are experiencing underneath their behaviors can allow us to see parts of ourselves in them.

Headed somewhere you know you’ll encounter a challenging person? My free resource worksheet will help you take a mindful approach to that situation. Here are my five steps to cultivating compassion for those who annoy you:

  1. Take a mindful pause. 
  2. Notice what you are feeling.
  3. Ask yourself what these feelings may be trying to teach you. Remember that feelings are our internal GPS.
  4. Remind yourself that we have all had difficult moments and behaviors. 
  5. Remain open to how an experience with a challenging person may have more to do with you than them. Oftentimes, internal reflection and deeper exploration are needed in order to make a shift in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors towards challenging people. 

Knowledge Into Action

First, complete this resource worksheet to give yourself an emotional advantage. Before you are in a situation that involves a challenging or annoying person, anticipate that situation and plan ahead. Next, decide how you want to think about that person or situation before you are there. Remember your five steps and find compassion for that person. Finally, set clear boundaries; we teach people how to treat us by what we tolerate and what we won’t. 

My client plans to talk with her mom about this newfound understanding of their dynamic. I have no doubt that unpacking this moment through coaching enabled my client to gain a deeper understanding of and connection with herself and her mother. 

Consider using this time to get really curious about who you want to be right now and what is yours to do. Remain curious about any feelings that arise during these uncertain times. Now is the perfect time to work with a life coach who can help you strengthen the connections to yourself and others in your world. If you know a teen or a college-aged young woman who could use some guidance and support, let’s connect.