“Morning, Mark! Wow, new tie! Looking snazzy! Where did you get it? I have one just like it! It’s a beautiful day today…want to eat lunch outside later? Hey, where’s Natalie? Let’s ask her, too!”
Ugh. I just want to drink my coffee in peace.
“Good morning, Todd.” [walks away, trying not to growl at Todd]
We have all faced situations with people who annoy us, frustrate us, rub us the wrong way. Often, the reason why we are so irritated is not even completely clear. Sometimes personalities simply do not click, and we find ourselves becoming very annoyed with the other person without any apparent reason that warrants such a severe reaction. Other times, the other person is doing something objectively obnoxious, and our frustration is justified. In either case, feeling upset and annoyed by another person is never pleasant. Sometimes feelings of frustration and annoyance with another person can cause real stress in a person’s life, and even leave them feeling discouraged about relationships in general. Learning to deal with irritating interpersonal relationships calmly is essential, since this problem usually arises quite often. How can we learn to be calm even when someone upsets us?
One effective way of maintaining calm when speaking with someone who annoys you is to mentally list the other person’s strengths. This technique generally works best when dealing with someone you know relatively well, not simply an acquaintance or a stranger. Try to focus on what you do like about this person, or on anything they may have done in the past to help you, make you happy, etc. By shifting your focus away from the bad, frustrating actions that get under your skin, and placing your attention on the person’s good points, you can often transform the feelings of frustration into a calmer, more neutral mindset.
Even if you cannot reach the point of enjoying being around this person, or forging a friendship with them, focusing on their good points can still help to take the edge off of your annoyance and make your interactions with them more peaceful. In addition, learning to recognize the good in other people is a beneficial skill that builds your own character. Therefore, the fact that you are directly involved in personal development during your interactions with this person can also help add a degree of calmness and serenity to your mindset.
Another option for dealing with people who get under your skin in a calm way is to realize that becoming stressed is simply bad for you. Try to attain the perspective that whatever annoying behavior they are showing, it is not worth the negative mental, physical, and spiritual effects that stress can have on you. Stress has been shown to cause heart problems, high blood pressure, and even some forms of cancer. Maintaining a calm demeanor and mindset can work wonders for your physical and mental health, while allowing frustration and stress to overtake you can have the opposite detrimental effect. When someone says something or acts in a way that upsets you, remind yourself that no matter what they say or do, your health and mental wellbeing are more important. Focus on reaching a peaceful, calm state of mind—for your own sake. Your efforts to maintain calm in your interactions with this person are directly affecting your own health in a positive way. A peaceful mindset can bring harmony and balance to your entire being.
In order to reach a calm state of mind, you can employ several different techniques. Visualizing a peaceful, happy place, such as a beach at sunset or a quiet forest, can help you reframe your mindset to be calmer and put the annoyance by this person into perspective. Deep breathing, slowly in and out, can also regulate your thinking and help you to feel more centered and in control. Sometimes when you are annoyed or frustrated by someone, your instinct is either to lash out or to become distant. Both of these responses show a lack of control to a certain extent.
Deep breathing and focused thoughts about happy, calm situations can put you back in the driver’s seat of your thinking patterns and help to ease the stress of the situation. Another technique to use is to simply deflect the conversation as smoothly and lightly as possible, in order to remove yourself from the frustrating interaction as quickly as you can. That is, do not draw out a frustrating conversation if it can be avoided or concluded relatively fast. Taking yourself out of the annoying interaction smoothly and gracefully can help you maintain a sense of calmness and control.
In addition, when someone is acting irritating or obnoxious, try to look at the person as an opportunity for practicing interpersonal relationship skills. Consider the situation as a challenge thrown your way, a chance to build your abilities in handling difficult people with aplomb. If you focus on frustrating people as a learning opportunity, this can often help you to maintain peaceful, calm behavior while dealing with them. Concentrate on reacting to their statements and actions as calmly as possible, using the techniques outlined above.
At the same time, think of the situation as a challenge in which you have the chance to improve your relationship skills. Remind yourself of the other relationships in your life that you would like to work on (e.g. a spouse, a parent, a friend, etc.), and realize that any skills acquired in this frustrating situation could also help you become a better partner in your other relationships. Learning to deal with difficult people calmly can go a long way in helping you interact with people you care about in a friendlier manner.
The issue of calmly handling interactions with people who annoy us can pose a big challenge to many people. Learning how to remain calm when dealing with frustrating behavior is a crucial tool in all relationships. By using techniques such as deep breathing, focused thinking, and big-picture perspective, you can effectively learn to stay calm and maintain a peaceful demeanor even when interacting with people who get under your skin. Once you have successfully developed this skill of calmly handling annoying interactions, it will serve you well in relationships throughout your life.