You know that guy who always chews loudly and makes weird noses at lunchtime? Or that buzz the air conditioner produces all day long above your head? And oh, that one coworker who just can’t stop clicking her pen as if on purpose, just to annoy you. Even though these are minor things, and if you told someone about them, they’d say you’re severely exaggerating, things can sometimes get out of proportion, so how can you deal with them?
First of all, let’s get one thing off our shoulders. Whoever or whatever is the source of annoyance, they are not doing it on purpose; it’s nothing personal. Once you accept that, a small part of your frustration (and your ego) can be relieved. Just think about it, you can easily be another person’s source of annoyance and you don’t even know it!
As for the reason these annoyances can seem bigger than they really are and can cause such frustrations is their unpredictability first, and the lack of control second. After all, isn’t the air-conditioning hum easier to tolerate than the click of a pen? You already know the first doesn’t work well and you can predict it, but what the hell is wrong with your coworker who decides to suddenly snap and break your focus? This is a question of predictability. But why are the still both a cause of annoyance? This is because you cannot control them! Thus, bringing us to an easy way to limit how much these things bother you and that is, seeking ways to enhance your sense of control and boosting your confidence. These ways don’t have to be related to your work nor your family environment. You can actually start by addressing the issue in itself and, if possible, confront the person about what it is that they’re doing. You might actually be surprised that they don’t even realize it and they might be very understanding, apologetic and willing to change. They might even ask for your help! As for unrelated ways, you can adopt ways that boost your self-control like maintaining a certain posture for example, which has been proved to have direct impact of the brain chemistry, thus enhancing your mood. And finally, turn the negative into positive and try to use these irritations as a reminder to breathe deeply. “Make it habitual, and you’ll turn whatever’s disrupting your calm into a source of it.”
This article was inspired by Oliver Burkman’s article “Deal with minor irritations at work”.