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How to Get Along with an Irritating Person

by Elise Wile

Marilyn Monroe once said, "I have had a talent for irritating women since I was fourteen." It's unlikely, however, that the person you're having a problem with is irritating you with her beauty. People who annoy others are often self-centered or short-sighted or simply lack social skills. Changing how you deal with such people can help you get along with them better, even if you never have a fully satisfying relationship.

Change Your Attitude

Change how you look at the person, advises communication experts Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner, authors of "Dealing with People You Can't Stand: How to Bring out the Best in People at Their Worst." When you change your attitude, how you perceive the person's behavior also changes. You'll see that the neighbor who always comments on the state of other people's yards is perhaps at a loss for other things to talk about or is worried about the resale value of his house rather than simply being critical, for example.

Change Your Approach

Brinkman and Kirschner recommend changing how you interact with an annoying individual. Doing so will require the person to change her interactions as well, and she might become less annoying as she navigates a different path of communication with you. You may find that responding to your annoying aunt with a smile disarms and brings out the best in her, for example. Changing your approach may turn down the irritation level, or it may not. It's worth a try.

Look for the Good

Although it may be irritating to listen to your coworker prattle on and on about who did what last night on his favorite television show, he probably has a few good traits. Perhaps he is the person who always remembers everyone's birthdays or is the only one who can figure out how to repair the copier when it breaks. Keep the positive attributes of the irritating person in mind during your interactions, and you'll be less annoyed by his words or behavior.

Set Boundaries

If you can't concentrate on the novel you're writing because your roommate insists on playing show tunes at top volume, speak up. The same is true if you are irritated by your mother's requests that you attend every violin concert that your five-year-old cousin is in. Just say no, advises psychotherapist Karen Kleiman in a December 2011 article in "Psychology Today." Don't feel guilty, either. When you're able to assert yourself, the irritating people in your life will suddenly become less so -- because they're no longer stepping over the protective space you've established around yourself.

References

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

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