Why Some People Are So Irritating

In the past (and long before I read book called The Way of Zen by Alan Watts) I really thought that some people were simply irritating – and it was their fault. I was sort of doing the same as in the blaming the dogs post entry.

After reading many books about philosophy, psychology and religions I’ve come to sort of “see” that it’s not “their” fault if *I’m* getting upset. Naturally there are people who act and even try to irritate you, but in the end: it’s your decision how you react. I’m not saying there’s a switch you can click to control your emotions 100% all the time, but I am saying that you can practice and train yourself to get less upset in different situations.

In those annoying situations (especially if you are without enough pizza and coke…) it’s easy to get frustrated, but here’s some methods to with these situations:

  • Ask the “How does this look like after 5 years?”: Is the situation really so big that it’s something to care about even after 5 years from today? If your car doesn’t start on one morning – so what? After five years you don’t even remember the whole situation, why make a big issue about it now?
  • Remember how many people in the world would gladly change your problems to their problems. Almost sixth of the world’s population don’t see food every day, and if you get irritated because pizza was cold – how crazy is that?
  • Consider the reasons behind other people’s behavior: If they are irritating, they simply might have had a terribly bad day at work – that might happen to any of us, so we really got to try to remember what we would like to hear after a bad day.
  • Can you stay calm for 15 minutes if somebody mocks you: Ask yourself if you can try to stay calm and not to say anything insulting for 15 minutes. That’s all what I’m asking. Try to wait for 15 minutes before making counter attacks to the other. Surely you can control your feelings for 15 minutes, so there’s no reason not to do this. You can make intelligent answer to the other, without need to get angry. If you still feel irritated after 15 minutes has passed, then repeat this method.
  • Don’t send that email angry: Remembering this might save you from lots of problems. Don’t send emails when you are angry. Don’t reply to threads if you are angry. Don’t write your blog angry (grumpy is okay, but not when angry ;). Wait until you’ve calmed down, and then re-read what you were about to say. It doesn’t hurt to wait 30 minutes or so.
  • Just shut up: Remember that you can always keep your mouth shut. If you cannot control your emotions, control your mouth. Combine with the 15-minute rule.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t care about anything, I’m just pointing out that there’s no need to get upset about everything.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Well a friend of mine has got that “I want to claim for my rights”-syndrome. Once we walked across the street, there was an opportunity (in German it’s called “zebra stripes”, don’t know if that’s commonly named like that – white stripes on the road where cars have to stop if you walk across).

    Well we were there and there was a car approaching, and I stopped, because to me it wasn’t quite sure, if the car would stop. My friend then asked in a rude tone “why the hell are you stopping?!” – and that’s exactly that. Like “I’ve got the right to cross it, HE has to stop, if he hits me, HE has to pay, not me” -> but this would bring us to hospital, right? So where’s the deal with just stopping and KNOWING that other people may make mistakes.

    I hate this opinion and many people have it. I always try to be aware BEFORE something is happening, that other people may make mistakes and take my right, but it’s not worthy to complain and to just “grab my rights” and eventually be hit by a car just because it’s not my fault ;)

  2. yeah this whole issue is something I’m constantly working on and training myself on – it’s not easy but I’m loads better at it now that in the past.

    The chinese have some kind of phrase along these lines “if someone offered another person a gift and the gift was refused, to whom would the gift belong”. You basically apply the same thing to insults – I see it in kung fu films all the time, when someone is so unworthy of your attention.

    As for the someone staying calm for 15 mins when being insulted by a woman, then I would be very impressed and not think they are insecure at all – well, it all depends how they handle it. You can be calm and powerful not calm and submissive/weak, and when powerful (like you have a magic shield around you) then the other person will soon deflate when they see their atttacks having no effect – this is actually quite a funny thing to see as well.

  3. The kind of girls i date are high maintainence (model quality) who have tens of guys hit on them each day. They test you in all sorts of ways which includes throwing tamper tantrums, trying to make you jealous and insulting you here and there (not actually calling you names but just insulting). In fact, all girls do that at one point or another. If I’m to rule out all these girls, i’ll have to marry my hand.

    If you take advice like ‘can you stay calm if someone insults you for 15 minutes’, and if a girl throws a tamper tantrum or makes fun of you in front of your friends, and you stay calm and give her a smile, you’ll come across as insecure and submissive. Thats just what I’m saying.

  4. I have to deal with slightly to extremely abrasive e-mails from a co-worker on a semi-regular basis, maybe once every other week or so. He’s a very irritable fellow, but I don’t work with him for his personality, so I try to adapt to I irritate him less in the future, and respond without ego. The key to business is being a good middleman, a producer should try to keep his personality trasnparent to the creative flow of the project.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. I’m a firm believer that if you are able to stay calm, think clearly, and reason intelligently, then you ALWAYS have the upper-hand.. though “having the upper-hand” per se, isn’t always the point..

  6. (enter knowitall mode)

    Josh: I sort of agree with your statement, “but”… Insults should never be part of conversation in the first place. I might be naive here, but I’ve never had anyone explicitly insult me since grade school. If someone were to insult you they’ve already stepped over the line of decency, so you actually have the upper hand in a way. It’s not possible to have an intelligent argument if one participant is that upset, but you don’t have to stand there and take it.
    Throwing insults back at them would only drop you to the same level and you lose all hope of reaching some kind of understanding, if anything the anger will escalate. There are plenty of ways to express disagreement besides insults. Calm is always better than aggressive – a calm person has the advantage of being able to present rational arguments, and unless the other person has a hook on you (money, sex…) it’s always possible to walk away.
    If a person is systematically insulting you as a provocation it’s another matter, then you’re definitely in the wrong company :)

    Besides pure evil and bad hair days, disagreement to the point of insult almost certainly originates in a misunderstanding of some sort. Either that or political conflict. Misunderstandings can be sorted out if both parties remain calm and clear-spoken, political conflicts are best ignored ;)

    (actually bad hair day could be filed under “misunderstanding” too, as it’s understandable _if_ you know the person is having a hard time – but usually they won’t tell you)

    Bottom line: I think you read the wrong meaning into the word “calm”

  7. I don’t agree with advice like ‘Can you stay calm for 15 minutes if someone is insulting you’. If you let a girl insult you for 15 minutes, you’re letting her get away with emotionally manipulating you and come across as an insecure, wimpy loser who’ll take whipping. Its not good advice to teach people to be submissive.

  8. Your site is turning into a Steve Pavlina Personal Dev. Site Version 2. :-D

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