This month’s article has a good story attached to it on how to deal with annoying people. Why can’t we just be honest and tell them that they are annoying? This is not always an easy thing to do because we’re worried about hurting people’s feelings. In the past, I did do this and I was honest but I probably did not do it in the right way because I didn’t manage my own emotional state as I delivered the message. The best time for you to let someone know that they’re being annoying is not when they’re being annoying, like not in that moment, because your state of annoyance is going to be high and that may come out in your inflection and your intonation so the way that you say it might sound a bit off and if we want to encourage people to change and we want to lead them and we want to influence them it’s not going to be by sounding annoyed with them – it’s going to be something else.
For example, I used to work with a lady who would assist me sometimes when I was delivering workshops and I’d been invited over to Kuwait and she came with me to deliver some workshops. This lady wore Ugg boots and they were obviously very comfy and very well-loved which is a good thing. One day she had put them on her feet but the heel of these ugg boots had been like squashed down. It was like there was a crease. I used to work in a shoe shop which is maybe why this overly irritated me but it was like she’d kind of put the boot on but not really pushed her heel down to the bottom of the boot and instead it just kind of like stopped about halfway down where like her foot should have gone and then just compressed it from there and so the back of the boot had this like divot in it where it was just all creased up now that’s not the annoying thing, that’s just level one annoyance.
The even more annoying thing is I think probably in part because her foot wasn’t all the way down in the boot she was a shuffler, she really shuffled in these boots and the thing with being in that building was that everywhere you go is like marble and air-conditioned flooring because it’s so freaking hot out, there are no carpets anywhere because it’s hot all the time so they have cold flooring to counteract the heat. When someone is wearing Ugg boots that are not really on their foot properly and they’re on a marble floor it’s like that shuffling sound is amplified. I reach a point where I just went will you pick your feet up, look very parenty to someone who is like considerably older than I am and I just kind of snapped and went will you pick your feet up and she was like ‘what’ and I was like ‘oh my god you are shuffling your feet like, can you walk okay?’ At which point she was like ‘oh yeah, it’s just these boots like they always slipping off but I am lifting my foot up properly but they kind of slip off as I lift my foot up so it sounds like I’m shuffling them’. I knew that because her foot wasn’t properly in the boot and that’s why it was they were slipping off, they were never on in the first place.
I got it out of my system which was a good thing and for a little while she made an effort to kind of pick those feet up a little better, the moral of the story is telling the person that they’re being annoying is the right thing to do but don’t do it when you’re feeling annoyed. If you’ve got someone in your office who chews chewing gum really loudly then you can tell them whilst they’re chewing the chewing gum but you’re going to have to really watch yourself to make sure that you don’t sound like a rude spiky person like I did.
When you come to raise the issue with them instead what you might choose to do is pick a moment when they’re not chewing the chewing gum and say ‘I love you really deeply and I think that you’re an amazing person and I just have to tell you that when you chew chewing gum with your mouth open and it makes that chompy noise it makes me want to kill you and I just thought that you should know that’, maybe don’t pick those exact words if they’re not like a true close friend of yours that you can get away with threatening death with but otherwise you can think of a more diplomatic way in which to get the message across but telling them is definitely a good suggestion.
By Gemma Bailey