15 Habits That May Make Someone Irritating Without Realizing It
Someones people may be irritating without realizing it. Whether it's being on their phone when other people are talking to them, or interrupting people when they speak, there are some habits that are annoying or perceived as annoying by certain people that may seem harmless to others. But according to experts, there are easy ways to fix it.
"A lot of people wind up inadvertently irritating others with behaviors they don't even realize they are doing," Dominique Talley, clinical therapist and wellness blogger, tells Bustle. According to her, there are usually one of two reasons why most people find others irritating: a personality clash with another person, or another person being inconsiderate. "A clash of personalities is difficult to remedy without at least one party involved giving up part of their unique strengths and quirks," she says. "Thankfully, that's usually the less common reason to find someone irritating."
Instead, we're more likely to get annoyed most by people who are inconsiderate in some way. "Usually folks are not intentionally setting out to irritate the people around them; they are simply oblivious to the ways that their behaviors may impact others," she says. But with a little more self-awareness, there's a solution. According to experts, here are some of the more common irritating habits people have and how it can be fixed.
1. Making Everything About Them
These are the types who like talking about themselves and will somehow skillfully find a way to bring completely unrelated conversations back to them. While there's nothing wrong with being a sharer, it can rub people the wrong way if it's done constantly. More often than not, these people may not even realize they're doing it. For some, it may just come naturally.
Licensed professional counselor, Heidi McBain, MA, tells Bustle, "It would be helpful if they could learn to be good listeners." That means ask other people questions about themselves. Really listen to other people's answers instead of just "waiting for some open air time" where they can switch the conversation back to them. According to her, learning how to actively listen is key. "[To be a better listener someone] needs to track the conversation and check in to make sure they are truly understanding what the other person is sharing with them," she says.
2. Interrupting Others
Interrupting others happens frequently in conversations between friends, loved ones, co-workers, and informal acquaintances. "Often the person interrupting gets so excited to share what [they have] to say that they doesn't realize they quite rudely cut someone else off and disregarded what they were saying," Talley says.
In other instances, someone might annoy those around them by "physically interrupting" them. Think of that coworker who constantly comes to your office uninvited, or the neighbor who traps you in a conversation at the mailbox, or the friend who calls at the most inconvenient times, she says. Typically when that happens, the person doesn't take notice when others drop hints about "being busy" or "having so much to get done" either. That can have a way of making the interruption even more irritating.
"As humans, our innate tendency is to be selfish," Talley says. "Part of being an adult is learning to curb that tendency and know how and when to appropriately prioritize other people and their needs." So it's important for everyone to be aware of little hints people may be dropping.
3. Trying Too Hard To Relate
"One of the biggest things I coach my clients on when prepping for networking events or even general social situations is to ask questions," life coach Desiree Wiercyski, tells Bustle. In fact, studies have found people who ask a lot of questions tend to be more well-received by others. However, people also have the tendency to circle the conversation back to them in order to relate in some way. According to Wiercyski, that's because we're attempting to make stronger connections with others. But when it’s overdone, it can come off as a bit "self-centered" without meaning it to be.
In order to fix the issue, Wiercyski tells clients to follow the "3/4 rule." Meaning three out of four statements should be "reflective listening" or open ended questions, and one statement can include sentiments about themselves.
4. Insisting On Being Right All The Time
Another habit that can come off as annoying is when a person always has to be right, even about the smallest technicalities. "In general conversation, correcting someone once is acceptable," Wiercyski says. But any more than that and others will start to get defensive, feel attacked or feel like they’re under a microscope.
"If someone says something and it may not be wholly accurate, but the broader sentiment is right, it may be worth it to let it slide," she says. "It’s not about playing dumb, but playing politely."
5. Finding Their Phone Way More Interesting Than Anything Going On IRL
This is definitely one of the most common ones you see today. In fact, recent research has found phone snubbing can contribute to a lack of social skills, depression, and problems in relationships. According to Talley, some people don't even realize they have a habit of being on their phone during conversations. Often times they don't know they're sending the message to others that they care more about what they've got going on in their phone than the human interaction right in front of them.
If that's the case, Certified Strengths Coach, Anne Brackett, tells Bustle, it's important to really listen and consider any feedback they receive from others. "It's hard for most people to hear honest feedback," Brackett says. Not many people actually like being called out for being a phone addict. So it's important for everyone to find someone they trust to be honest with them and tell them if they've observed any potentially annoying behaviors. "Please don't kill the messenger though," she says. "It may be difficult for the person to hear, but it does no good for anyone if they just turn their discomfort back on their friend."
6. Not Being Completely Present
While technology can definitely take people's attention away from the current moment, others might not even need technological assistance to be distracted. As Talley says, "People can get wrapped up in thinking about something else while someone is talking to them." Of course we all get distracted from time to time, but if this happens more often than not, take note.
"Most of us have jam-packed calendars, to-do lists, and smartphone notifications constantly vying for our attention, so it can be difficult to stay in the present (particularly if the conversation or interaction is not terribly fascinating)," she says. But people do notice when others are not engaged in conversation. "Depending on the topic of conversation and what someone is trying to share, this can be irritating or even hurtful."
Again, the best thing for people to do in this situation is to listen to feedback. "It never hurts for anyone to do some self-reflection to see whether they are inadvertently taking part in irritating habits," Talley says.
7. Forgetting To Return Things
Another annoying habit that often pops up in day-to-day life is when someone constantly forgets to return things. "It’s one thing to borrow a pen and forget to return it once, but people notice when they don’t get even small things back," Wiercyski says. Often times, it does leave the lender feeling negatively about the borrower. "I’ve coached clients who have been on the end of having let someone borrow something multiple times and not getting it back, and they often feel resentful and definitely annoyed," she says.
The solution? If you borrow something, return it. "That way people feel positive about the interaction and it builds an additional level of trust," Wiercyski says.
7. Being Completely Unaware Of Other People's Reactions
Tuning in to others is key in being able to read people's reactions, HR expert and therapist Laura MacLeod, LMSW, tells Bustle. People who come off as annoying without meaning to are usually in their own world and therefore, totally unaware of how they are being perceived.
But when you tune in, MacLeod says, you start to notice how people are reacting to what you say, do and how you are received. "Eyes roll, faces turn away, your questions are not answered or the response is a single yes or no," she says. "Some people just don't see this or simply choose to ignore it and continue on as if they are well liked and respected."
So it's important for everyone to look around and really notice other people's reactions to them. If someone tunes in and doesn't seem to understand why so and so rolled their eyes at them or is being quieter than usual, it's OK and even suggested for them to speak up. In turn, those who are getting annoyed might actually be upfront and honest. As MacLeod says, "Getting things out in the open for everyone helps promote direct communication and improves relationships."
8. Trying To Flaunt Their Knowledge To Anyone And Everyone
Life coach, James Pollard tells Bustle that one of the most annoying things he encounters on a daily basis is when someone tries to flaunt their knowledge. This could be by talking in complex jargon, using big words, or making obscure references that other people in the conversation might not know. "In my field of coaching financial advisors, the advisors sometimes feel as if using complex terms and sounding smarter than they are will cause a prospect to be impressed and want to do business," Pollard says. But more often than not, that's not the case.
"My advice is to be mindful of your situation," he says. "Sometimes advisors will role play with me or another person and record that session, just to see what types of words and phrases they use on a normal basis. Many times the 'annoying person' doesn't even know [they are] doing it."
9. Being Judgmental
"I have counseled people who feel frequently rejected, never seem to fit in, irritate their mates almost by walking in the room and the reasons why are endless," ordained Unity Minister and counselor, Lauren McLaughlin, tells Bustle. Being judgmental is one of those reasons. Often times, their judgement will come out in the form of a backhanded compliment or tough love advice. "These people literally don’t know they are being irritating to others," she says.
When this is the case, McLaughlin suggests for the person to self-reflect. Think about why they're so concerened about how others look, what they believe, or how they live their life.
"When a person examines their own behaviors, it takes time, and it takes being willing, but the results are often pretty instant," she says. She even offers this "behavior changing" affirmation to say: I am who I am and I allow others to be who they are.
10. Trying Too Hard To Be Friends With Everyone
Some people will go above and beyond to be liked by everyone. There's nothing wrong with wanting be liked, however, "you can never please everyone you meet, and not everyone who you come into contact will like you," Dr. Sal Raichbach PsyD, LCSW of Ambrosia Treatment Center, tells Bustle. "That is just how life works."
If this is the case and an individual feels like the people they socialize with are becoming annoyed or irritated, it may be in their best interest to adjust a little bit. Remember that it's impossible to be friends with every single person in the world. If they adjust their thinking a but and focus their energy on the people they're actually good friends with, Dr. Raichbach says it's easier to maintan happpier and healthier relationships.
11. Being Late All The Time
Being late once or twice is fine. Things happen. But some people do have a reputation of being "the late one." Even if they assume others are OK with it since it happens all the time, it really might not be. Instead, being constantly late can come off as rude or disrespectful of other people's time.
"For people who do this, it can be extremely helpful to evaluate why they do these things in order to change their behaviors," Dr. Raichbach says. While he does recognize it's important to remain yourself regardless of whom you meet, it is also important to be considerate of how others feel. "Putting in the effort to control one's annoying habits can be extremely helpful, as can practicing new behaviors that are more welcoming.“
13. Talking In A Way That Makes People Feel Uncomfortable
Some people have a tendency to talk too much while others talk too little. Some talk too softly, while others can be very loud. In most cases, this is just how people are and how they've learned to communicate. Because of that, they may not realize their way of talking can be turning people off. That's why being receptive to feedback from others is super important.
"I'm guilty of talking really loudly when I'm excited," Workplace Coach, Laura Handrick, tells Bustle. "It's not until someone says, 'You don't have to yell,' that I recognize my voice is elevated. Usually, that's all it takes to get me to lower my voice to a more even level."
14. Pen Tapping, Clicking, And Other Nervous Habits
Some people unconsciously do things when they're nervous like tap their pen, play with their hair, or bouncing their leg when they sit. When it's in an office setting, someone clicking their pen over and over again can get a tad bit annoying to co-workers. "It's a nervous habit and one I've seen at the top level of an organization, where senior staff are in a room and one executive starts doing it," Handrick says.
Being aware of nervous habits, whatever it may be, is the first step to overcoming this issue. Sometimes people will catch it themselves or others will let them know it's bothersome to them. For those with nervous habits, Handrick suggests bringing a stress ball with them to help ease any tension they may be feeling during stressful situations.
15. Invading People's Personal Space
"One co-worker I know worked in healthcare in the past and is comfortable standing and talking inches from her peers in quiet hushed tones," Handrick says. What personal space looks like may differ from culture to culture.
When it's an issue of cultural difference, Handrick suggests it's best to share your experiences with "personal space" norms and listen to when someone says they're uncomfortable. Someone's body language is another thing to be mindful of.
Everyone has their fair share of habits they may not realize irritate other people. You shouldn't have to change the very core of who you are just to please other people. But if we can all be aware and mindful of how others feel and react to what we say or do, everyone can feel more comfortable being around each other.