How To Not Be Annoying

Do you often feel like you are getting on everybody’s nerves?

Some people annoy others without intending to. They unwittingly display behaviors that drive the people around them off the wall.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. You can learn how to not be annoying.

Read about the nine most annoying behaviors, how to turn them off, and why should start recording yourself.

The 9 Most Annoying Behaviors — And How To Fix Them

Here are the nine most annoying behaviors and what to do about them.

1. You Make Every Interaction About Yourself

Some people are self-obsessed. They will take any input they get from the other person and make it about themselves. For example, person A might comment on a conflict they are having with their boss. As soon as person B hears that, they are off to the races. “I had this big fight with my boss once, it was terrible. She accused me of blah blah…”

The annoying person cannot fathom that others want to get things off their chest too. In their narcissistic universe, everything revolves around them.

What To Do About It

There is a technical answer and there is a mindset answer.

The technical answer is to learn how to show empathy. It’s a 3-step process:

  1. Listen. When your friend brings up a topic, shut your mouth and pay attention. Make sure to catch every detail of what they are saying and every nuance of their subcommunication / body language.
  2. Inquire about the details. When your friend is well into their story, start to ask the occasional question. Make sure these are good, relevant questions — questions that allow them to elaborate further.
  3. Provide comfort. Most people, when they bare their hearts, are not so much looking for advice as they are looking for comfort. They want somebody to sympathize with them. Be that somebody.

Now, for the mindset answer. If you are a narcissist, it means your view of the world is skewed. You assign yourself more importance than you are due.

The root problem with narcissists — at some point, they were receiving an exorbitant amount of attention. For example, they might have had parents who pampered them. Or maybe, because of their physical attractiveness, they got indulged by lovers and suitors. Now, they have internalized this frame. Wherever they go, they want to take center stage.

To overcome this, you must expose yourself to environments where no one cares about you. For example, if you always got preferred treatment because you are pretty, put yourself in a competitive academic environment. Many of the overly cerebral people in this world will delight in taking you down a notch.

Or if you grew up rich, put yourself in a situation where no one cares about your economic privilege. Join a working-class boxing gym. Training with a bunch of fighters, you will be judged by your toughness, not by what school you attended or what car you drive.

These experiences will teach you humility. They will show you that you are not perfect. You will soon stop acting so self-centered.

2. You Interrupt Others Mid-Sentence

One of the most annoying behaviors is interrupting others mid-sentence.

Here is an example:

Your friend: “I saw the new Quentin Tarantino movie yesterday, it is really good. What I liked about …

You: “Oh no, you should have seen the new James Cameron! It got much better reviews. You wasted your money.”

By not listening to what they have to say, you are letting them feel, “Your ideas have no merit.” Keep that behavior up, and soon, nobody will want to talk to you.

What To Do About It

To stop interrupting others, there are two things you can do:

  1. You can enlist the help of a friend.
  2. You can record yourself.

Explain your predicament to a friend and ask them to monitor your behavior. Make an agreement — every single time you interrupt them during a conversation, they get to flick your ear. It sounds silly, but it works. It’s a form of conditioning through punishment.

Alternatively, you can record your social interactions. Use your smartphone’s recording app and a pair of wired headphones. Let the headphones hang out at the top of your shirt so that the built-in microphone can pick up the words.

Later, listen to the recording. Pay attention to how you keep interrupting others. By doing so, your communicative awareness will increase. Next time, you will catch yourself before interrupting the other person. This simple process will go a long way in learning how to not be annoying.

3. You Engage in Negativity

Some people infect others with their negativity. This is different from being depressed. The depressed person doesn’t force their negative views on others. They retreat into themselves. The negative person does the opposite. They want everybody around them to be as unhappy as they are.

There are variations of that:

  • Gossiping (“I bet she is sleeping with the boss.”)
  • Badmouthing (“Pete is such a wuss.”)
  • Suspiciousness (“They just want my money.”) 
  • Doomsday bias (“We are all going to die anyway.”)

If you are prone to these behaviors, others will find you annoying. It’s as if a black cloud was following you around. Wherever you go, the mood drops.

What To Do About It

Deep down, negative people all suffer from the same issue — they feel powerless. They can’t change things for the better. Hence, their only outlet is to complain.

The way out — you must learn to deal with negative events constructively. There are three rules for that:

  1. You must address your opponent directly. Don’t badmouth your colleague about how they duck responsibility. Call them out.
  2. When you confront them, stay cool. Don’t mince words. But neither should you raise your voice.
  3. Offer a solution. For example, propose a clear-cut division of labor. “X is my responsibility. Y is your responsibility.”

When you stick to these rules, you are no longer engaging in negativity. Rather, you are improving the situation. You will soon be known as a problem-solver that others want to associate with.

4. You Like To Brag

People who constantly bring up their accomplishments are highly annoying. That’s for several reasons:

  • You are acting self-centered. The accomplishments of others don’t register with you.
  • You tend to bring up the same few accomplishments. That gets old.
  • You are exaggerating your accomplishments — and others can tell.

Braggarts didn’t receive enough attention as children. They are now trying to make up for it, to finally feel loved. Ironically, they achieve the opposite — people turn away from them.

What To Do About It

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be seen. We all wish for that.

But you have to go about it in the right way. You have to let your actions speak for themselves. If you are someone who consistently makes progress on their goals, people can’t help but admire you. There is no need to brag about it.

5. You Annoy Others Online

Certain online behaviors are highly annoying:

  • Overusing hashtags. The world doesn’t need another post tagged #couplegoals.
  • Overusing emojis. Use emojis sparingly. They make you look shallow.
  • Venting. Online rants inject your readers with negativity.
  • Cyberbullying. Calling someone a moron isn’t funny, it’s insulting.
  • Oversharing. Keep your hemorrhoid problems to yourself.
  • Overtagging. Don’t tag the people you had an orgy with last weekend.
  • Crass pictures. Don’t post things that you wouldn’t want your children to look at.
  • Bragging. Showing off online makes you look insecure.
  • Posting frequency. Few people lead lives so exciting to require hourly updates.

What To Do About It

“How to not be annoying” online is simple, at least on a technical level. Before you publish anything, take a second to screen your content. Compare it against the most annoying online behaviors outlined above. If it ticks any of these boxes, modify your content.

On a deeper level, being annoying online is about a lack of empathy. You have a hard time imagining how your content will be perceived.

To overcome this, enlist the help of a person with good empathy. This could be a friend or a coach. Each time you are about to post something, show this content to your empathy partner first. They will give you feedback on what is wrong with it. Over time, you will start to recognize these problems yourself.

6. You Act Like a Drama Queen

A drama queen is somebody who must always stir things up. Their objective — to get noticed. For example, they might theatrically get angry at somebody, for no apparent reason. In truth, they just enjoy creating a scene.

To be clear — when I say “drama queen,” I am referring to both women and men. I have known plenty of male drama queens, and they are every single bit as annoying.

What To Do About It

The underlying issue of the drama queen — they are bored with their lives. So, they create a ruckus to make things more interesting.

The solution is to live a more exciting life. When you are truly looking forward to each day, you have no bandwidth left to waste on pointless drama.

Here are a few ideas to inject your life with real adventure:

Quit your 9 to 5. Waking up to an alarm, commuting to work, sitting in your cubicle — you will never be happy as a corporate slave. You must escape the rat race and do something you are passionate about. Maybe it’s running a martial arts gym. Maybe it’s writing that novel. Maybe it’s starting the next Tesla. Make it come true.

Ditch monogamy. Society tells us to get on the “relationship escalator” — move in together, get married, and have kids. But how many people are truly happy in their marriages? How many are still looking forward to having sex with each other? Not many. Maybe it’s time to consider unconventional relationship models like ENM as an alternative.

Travel the world. Most of us spend our lives in the same city in the same country. That provides little stimulation. You are so used to your surroundings that you barely notice them anymore. This radically changes when you embark on long-term travel. Suddenly, everything feels new and exciting again — the places, the faces, and the mores.

Start living an interesting life, and your drama queen tendencies will evaporate. There will be no need for theatrics.

7. You Make Excuses

Some people always have an excuse ready.

“I couldn’t finish the project on time because my wife got sick.”

“I’ll get you the money soon, but I had to pay rent yesterday.”

“I forgot to pick you up because my alarm didn’t go off.”

These excuses are extremely annoying to others. People see them for what they are. They will soon realize — you are simply unreliable.

What To Do About It

If you are prone to making excuses, it is because you don’t want to take responsibility for your life. It’s easier to blame external circumstances than to own your mistakes.

To overcome this, you must consider the long-term cost. By making excuses, you primarily trick yourself. Keep going like this, and your life will fall apart — your health, finances, and relationships.

Understand — it’s up to you to take control of your life. Whatever negative thing happens to you, assume it is your fault. Then fix it.

Not only will this improve the quality of your life but it will also make you more likeable. People are drawn to individuals who take radical responsibility for themselves.

8. You Are Overly Positive

Some people needlessly spread negativity. But there are also those who are over-the-top positive. They will sprout platitudes like, “Good vibes only,” even when the situation is dire. This behavior is known as “toxic positivity.”

It is annoying because it’s delusional. Bad things happen. People get in accidents or are diagnosed with cancer. It’s completely normal to experience sadness or even anger as a result.

And it’s not just these life-or-death instances. Someone at work takes all the credit for your project. Someone doesn’t pay you the money they owe you.

As an overly positive person, you will say, “Just think happy thoughts.” You are essentially telling others to be okay with being taken advantage of. Naturally, that doesn’t go over well.

What To Do About It

The toxicly positive person has an infantile outlook on the world. They want to keep living in a “happy happy joy joy” world, where everybody is always nice to each other and where the good guys win in the end.

If that is you, there are two things you must do:

  1. You must become a better observer.
  2. You must put yourself in competitive environments.

Stop shutting out the world and learn to observe what is really going on. Journaling is great for that. Every day, think back to conflicts you experienced at work or in your personal life. Now, instead of suppressing them, explore them. Ask yourself:

  • How did these conflicts arise?
  • What were the motives of the involved parties?
  • Which actions made the situation escalate further?

When you study the anatomy of conflicts, you will find that people always fight over resources, like money, time, or attention. In essence, everybody is looking out for their self-interest (as they should). It might not be pretty, but it is how the world works.

It is not enough to understand this, though — you must also experience it. You must expose yourself to competitive environments. They will teach you to deal with this dog-eat-dog reality.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Start your own business. In a free market environment, you will quickly learn to play hardball. When your competitors try to copy your ideas or steal your customers, you can’t just think happy thoughts. You must fight back.
  • Talk to attractive strangers, e.g., at the bar. You will be judged on your physical beauty, your bank account, and your sexual prowess. It will cure you of any overly romantic notions quickly.
  • Join an MMA gym. Most people in the West have never experienced physical violence. They are soft. Regularly doing full-contact sparring will fix that. You will learn to keep a stiff upper lip and even come to enjoy the raw physicality of it.

9. You Make Passive-Aggressive Comments

Making passive-aggressive comments is a surefire way to drive others mad. What’s so annoying about it — you obviously have beef with someone, but you are too disingenuous to confront them. So, you resort to snarky comments.

A few examples:

  • “I don’t want to talk about it.”
  • “It’s so sad that you always do that.”
  • “I am not mad. But you should really think about your behavior.”
  • “Oh, of course, I want to help you move. I can imagine no better way to spend my Saturday.”

What To Do About It

The passive-aggressive person has never learned to state their needs clearly. They must resort to indirect signaling because they don’t know how to express their dissatisfaction otherwise.

If that’s you, try the following exercise. Each day, for 30 minutes, you must clearly say what is on your mind. If you feel upset with somebody, you must verbalize it — but without resorting to backhanded comments.

Once you have gotten better at this, go up to one hour per day. Then one and a half hours. Then two. And so on. Eventually, stating your needs directly will become your new default.

It’s a good idea to have these practice sessions in a new environment where nobody knows you yet. This will make it easier to try out this new behavior. When we are surrounded by people who already know us, we are more likely to fall back onto our old patterns. It makes learning how to not be annoying harder.

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