In this world we are faced with all kinds of people. Some of them are pleasant, while others are not.
Many different types of people get on my nerves. No matter how good of a day I’m having, it’s almost inevitable that if I leave the house I will run into one or more people who annoy me. Some days I’m annoyed by an overly critical parent. Other days it’s a stranger in the grocery store who allows her kid to run wild and throw fruit without bothering to apologize for her child’s behavior. Sometimes it’s a guy on the bus who sits next to me and wants to chat for an hour about baseball and the weather.
We all have different ways to cope with people who piss us off. Coping mechanisms are as different as each individual. But since I recently had someone email me who asked how I deal with people who piss me off, I decided to share some of what works for me.
First, I assess the situation. Is this a person I can get away from? If so, I get away from them.
For example, can I leave the restaurant where the screaming toddler is making my head hurt? Or am I trapped on a plane with no where to go? If the person lives with me, can I go take a walk or go into another room for a while?
Second, I assess my other options.
If I can’t get away from the person who is pissing me off, I will attempt to remain calm while figuring out the best course of action. Can I wear noise-cancelling headphones to drown out the crying baby on the plane? Can I tell the chatting man on the bus that I would like to close my eyes and rest for a while? Can I tell my mother that I need some space and want to read a book alone in my bedroom?
If I’m absolutely stuck and there is nothing I can do, I try to change my thoughts and frame of mind. If my current thoughts are “This person is making me crazy. This person is never going to shut up. I want to hit someone,” I will try to change my thoughts to something like “I will be away from this person soon. If I think about something else, the time will pass faster.” Or if I’m at work, my thoughts may be, “My boss is a jerk and doesn’t appreciate me. I hate my job and would rather quit than deal with this anymore.” I then try to change those thoughts to “I am grateful to have a job so I can pay my rent. I will talk to my boss about my concerns when I calm down. I need to find a new job before I quit.”
Third, I figure out ways to be better prepared next time.
Once I am out of the situation and have calmed down, I think about the situation and how I handled it. If I didn’t explode or yell etc., then I give myself credit for surviving the situation without blowing up. If I yelled or reacted inappropriately, I apologize (unless it is a stranger I have no way to ever contact).
Then, I try to figure out ways I can make my life easier next time. For example, I almost always carry my noise-cancelling headphones with me now, because I have learned from my past encounters with people who pissed me off that I need to always be able to drown out the noise of annoying people.
I’ve found that if I put my headphones on as soon as I get on the train or bus, etc, that the person who sits down next to me is less likely to try to make chit-chat. If they still try, I ignore them and close my eyes. Eventually they shut up.
I have also made some other changes based on frequent recurrences with people who annoy me. I do most of my shopping online now to avoid the people who piss me off in stores. I also decline invitations to most social gatherings, because I do not enjoy going.
I limit the time I spend with family members who annoy me. When I was stuck in the same house with them, I tried my best to set boundaries while I was in a calm mood. (For example, I asked my mom to please not come into my room to talk to me while I was trying to study, because it agitates me when I keep getting interrupted). It was difficult to keep a positive mindset while being trapped in a home with people who annoyed me, but I did my best. I tried to remain as focused as possible on finding ways to make more money so I could move out.
The bottom line is that all we can do is the best we can do in any situation. We can use each experience as a learning opportunity to try to make life easier for ourselves the next time. That’s how I try to look at it anyway.