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How to Ignore Annoying People

by Melody Causewell

Why can’t he be quiet? Life is full of annoying people, but not all are created equal. By staying calm, pulling away, deciding if the event is important and working on your self-worth, you have a better chance to ignore the people that bother you.

Stay Calm and Try Mindfulness

It is more difficult to ignore something if you let it get to you. If you find yourself getting annoyed, take a few deep breaths to calm down. You might even try mindfulness, where you observe your emotions without responding to them, watching your feelings like leaves blowing in the wind. By remaining calm you are less likely to say something that will escalate annoying behaviors further, and you will be better able to not pay attention to the annoying person.

Cold Shoulder -- or Talk It Out?

Ignoring someone can take the form of refusing to show that you hear him, or not acting in response to him. If someone says something annoying, you can turn your back, hang up the phone or pretend you didn’t hear him. But be aware that these practices can be painful for others and may not make you any friends in the long term, especially if others notice you ignoring one of your friends. Consider whether talking to him honestly, but tactfully, about the bothersome behavior would be more beneficial. Try something like, “When you talk about your cat all the time it irritates me because I feel like we have little in common. Do you want to talk about yoga instead?” Finding common ground might do more to reduce annoyance in the long run than outright ignoring.

Decide If It Is Important

Sometimes is it easier to ignore people if the event won’t matter in the long run. Ask yourself how annoying the situation really is, suggests Hofstra University psychology professor Howard Kassinove in a 2012 article published as “How to Recognize and Deal With Anger” by the American Psychological Association. If you’re annoyed with a barista in a coffee shop, a waiter or a store clerk, you may be able to write off the interaction as insignificant to your life. Even if the annoying person is someone you interact with often, figure out whether she or the annoying behavior is something that matters in the long term. If you can recognize the event as unimportant overall, it will be easier to ignore the person in question no matter how annoying she is.

Work on You

It might be easier to ignore conversations if you can identify the underlying reason for the annoyance. If you find yourself annoyed when someone talks about his accomplishments because you wish you had finished college, this might put a fire under you to go back to school. If you are irritated when you hear about everyone else’s babies, this may speak to a deeper longing for a stable relationship. Figure out what it is in you that triggers the annoyance, and solve that problem. This will also help you to feel better about yourself in the long term. That higher self-esteem, along with knowing that you do not deserve to be agitated or annoyed, might also help you to pull away from relationships that are less than ideal or to brush off and ignore people that don’t matter.

About the Author

Melody Causewell has been a writer in the mental health field since 2001. She written training manuals and clinical programs for mental health organizations. She has published feature articles "Leaven" magazine and has been published in "Natural Awakenings." She has a degree in psychology, a Masters degree in social work and is a La Leche League leader.

Photo Credits

  • Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Getty Images