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6 Ways to Stop Being Annoying

How not to be "that guy" or "that girl" everyone finds irritating.

Key points

  • People who worry about rejection or being annoying may be victims of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Those who act entitled alienate others and build others' resentment toward them.
  • A person who is in love with their own voice is likely to be very annoying.
Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock
Source: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock

There are times that I have been annoying. I am positively aware of it – mostly because I’ll say something like “I’m being annoying right now, right?” and the person I am asking will usually say “yes” or not say anything at all, which pretty much means the same thing.

I strive to be as un-annoying as possible. I suspect many people endeavor for the same. Needless to say, most of us want to be liked and welcomed into new environments and social groups. It’s human nature.

But there are times when I can’t help being a brat. Perhaps I’m moody or hungry or just unable to quell my petulant inner three-year-old. Still, I don’t like exposing this negative side of me, especially in front of people I don’t know well, which is why I follow the following rules regularly.

Rule No. 1

Don’t think you’re annoying.

According to a recent study on the workplace at the University of British Columbia, people who worry about rejection or being annoying may be victims of a self-fulfilling prophecy. While it’s normal to wonder if you are liked, particularly at work, “research shows employees should do their best to keep their interactions positive and ignore the negative,” says Professor Aquino, the author of the study.

Her findings suggest that people who were worried about negative gossip or being snubbed were more likely “to seek out information to confirm their fears,” which could, in turn, annoy colleagues and may lead to rejection. For example, one of the study’s experiments found that people who construed certain actions as negative were more likely to “root it out through such means as eavesdropping or spying,” which isn't behavior that necessarily wins friends over.

Rule No. 2

Don’t feel sorry for yourself.

The entire quote, “Don’t feel sorry for yourself, only assholes do that,” comes from Haruki Murakami's bestseller, Norwegian Wood.

The irony about feeling sorry for yourself is that it actually feels good – at least it does for me. Not in the I-feel-like-I'm-in-a-Disney-movie-happy kind of way, but in the I-love-wallowing-in-my-own-despair-with-everyone-feeling-sorry-for-me-and-waiting-for-God-to-fix-everything-for-me-because-he-messed-up-and-it's-all-his-fault kind of way. Does that make any sense?

There is something disturbingly comfortable about being miserable and wallowing. But the truth is, nobody likes being around miserable people, particularly ones who choose to complain and stay complacent in their rut, resisting any kind of change or improvement. Guy Finley may have summed it up best in his post on “Anytime you embrace a dark inner state, you increase the size of its stake on your heart and mind.”

Rule No. 3

Don’t think you’re hot when you’re really not.

This advice comes from the frequently funny folks at Sure, it’s a humor piece, but there is some truth in these words. People who think they’re hotter than they really are “utterly conceited and abominably clueless.” They essentially suffer from delusions of grandeur – imagine a typical guest on Jerry Springer.

When you act entitled, you alienate people and build their resentment towards you. Even if you're the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, you shouldn't have license to look down on anyone else or treat them poorly. This doesn’t mean that you should be unkind to yourself or embrace low self-esteem, it simply means, just be nice. But if you are unable to be nice, at the very least, just don’t be rude.

Rule No. 4

Keep your word.

We’re all guilty of being flaky sometimes, but I have to say, this is the quality that I found the most annoying in people. Breaking a promise is like saying “You’re not worth it to me.”

It doesn’t matter the occasion – a date, a casual meeting, or a 10-day trip abroad – it is important to keep your word when you are making plans with another person. Of course, things will come up, so if you have to break plans, it's not the end of the world, but be conscientious of the other person. If you’re running late, let the other person know as soon as possible. And it's not just me who doesn't like it when you're tardy.

Apparently, habitually being late is the biggest pet peeve for daters on eHarmony.

Rule No. 5


In thinking about all the fights I’ve ever had with people, I've realized that many of these disagreements stem from the fact that at least one of us was not listening to the other person. Usually, the more we don’t listen to each other, the more the fight escalates.

If you are in love with your own voice. then chances are you’re being really annoying. So stop. Shut the mouth and open the ears.

In his PT blog post, “How to Really Listen,” Peter Bregman astutely recognizes that listening is the key to solving many problems. “Most of the time when we try to make people feel better, we end up arguing with them because we’re contradicting what they’re feeling, which inevitably makes them feel worse.”

Instead of offering your two cents on a situation, just listen. Still, Bregman warns that the act of listening isn’t a piece of cake. “The more we listen to others, the more likely we will react – or overreact – to what they say,” because we are forced to bite our tongue and let things we don't agree with go unanswered. We must remind ourselves that it's not about us, or our voice, but the other person's.

He writes that the best ways to listen are: actually listen, repeat back, and ask questions. You can read more on how to build your own listening skills in his post here.

Rule No. 6


Even if it’s forced, a smile can boost your mood. You’re also the most attractive when you smile. Do I need to say more?

It's a little-known fact, but it’s actually kind of difficult to be annoying and smile at the same. Try it for yourself.

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