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6 Conversational Behaviors that Are Really Annoying

Updated on August 3, 2011

The Asperger's Diagnosis Really Puts this into Perspective

One of the staples of Asperger's syndrome is that we are supposed to have difficulties with social interaction. We take things too literally, or we have trouble reading common social cues. Or, more the point, that we have a hard time following the subtle nuances of conversation.

So, it really makes me wonder at times how people who can exhibit certain annoying behaviors in a conversation get away with it, when the rest of us have the stigma of a label to sum up all of our supposed issues.

Imagine, for example, you are sitting at a table enjoying lunch, when an idiot sits down across from you. I say idiot because by the end of this hub, it will be the politest way you know of describing him.

Cher was right. Words are like weapons and they can wound sometimes.
Cher was right. Words are like weapons and they can wound sometimes.

6: Selective Hearing

So, you've found this person mildly interesting enough not to get up and walk away, eat your food quickly and leave, or use the hardcover book you were reading the way Matt Damon did in The Bourne Ultimatum.

Somehow, the conversation turns to your favorite actors.

"I'm a big fan of Jack Davenport," you say. "He's a British actor who does a lot of sitcoms, but he also does some drama and pseudo-science fiction shows like Ultraviolet."

"I loved that movie," the idiot responds.

Why Is it Irritating?

Because if you were listening, I wasn't talking about the craptacular vampire movie with Mila Jovavich and William Fichtner. (He was the banker with the shotgun in the bank robbery scene of Dark Knight) . I was talking about a British actor and the kinds of BBC shows he typically appears in.

Now, if the idiot had changed subjects to say, movies, before mentioning the movie Ultraviolet, that would have been acceptable. Of if he had asked, "Oh, is that like the movie?" I could have corrected him and explained that Ultraviolet was actually a short 1998 series that also featured Idriss Elba and Philip Quast.

But instead, the comment, "Oh yeah, I loved that movie," proved to me that you were not fully listening to what I was saying and in fact only heard one word. But because you didn't want to admit that your brain was stuck in neutral, you went with the least logical course of action and blundered ahead, making me feel like I was just talking to myself.

Upon witnessing this exchange, The Trio realized that both races were basically screwed.
Upon witnessing this exchange, The Trio realized that both races were basically screwed.

5: Straw Man Arguments

You've decided that this person is not the sharpest tool in the box. But it's a free country and he's more than entitled to sit there, so you go about finishing your meal and reading your book. (Fortunately you didn't use your book as a blunt instrument, because though the urge was strong, it would be hard to explain the bloodstains to the librarian later that day.)

Because hints are free and there's no "street cred" associated with stealing them, this guy doesn't get it. He leans in and sees the cover of the book as you're opening it. The Grays by Whitley Strieber.

"What book are you reading?" He asks.

"Uh...the Grays," you answer, even though he's looking right at the title.

"What's that about?"

You continue reading as you sum up the plot. "It's about a group of aliens who are trying to produce a human who is smart enough to help them communicate with mankind."

"I don't believe in aliens," he says, as if you've asked him. "Do you really believe in aliens and that they have space stations up there?"

You give him an odd glance. The common Internet jargon for this would likely be, WTF?

Basic Human Conversation.

You're Doing it Wrong.
You're Doing it Wrong.

Why Is It Irritating?

The Straw Man argument by definition is a logical fallacy.

In the context of this conversation, the book you were reading was clearly a fictional piece. But even if it was Bud Hopkins Missing TIme, the point is you can't determine someone's belief system just by knowing what they read. Today you may be reading Fire in the Sky, tomorrow it could be The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

Now imagine the conversation in that context.

"Oh, you're reading The Crucible? Do you really believe that magic exists and that there are witches and wizards going to a school in England?"

One, the first comment is irrelevant because The Crucible is neither about magic, nor witches. Two, Hogwarts is clearly fantasy, as are those space stations that the non-existant aliens supposedly do or don't have.

So the idiot has made himself even more intolerable by trying to act smart, building up an argument that you neither asked for, nor can you accurately defend against because he has clearly failed to check the expiration date on the milk before pooring it onto his paint chips this morning.

That girl can do everything...

4: The Barbie Syndrome

 Let me just clarify this. I'm not talking about people who have unrealistic proportions. I think nature tends to deal everyone the occasional Joker now and again, and we may choose to deal with these useless aspects of our physical make-up in anyway we choose.

No, The Barbie Syndrome is my special way of describing the sort of sad individual who proclaims to be an expert in everything in the course of a five minute conversation.

Just like America's favorite fashion doll can be a doctor, a dentist, a veterinarian and a lieutenant aboard the Starship Enterprise, your least favorite conversationalist is all of these things and more.

Doesn't matter where in the conversation you are.

"My mother's a nurse," you say.

"Oh yeah, I took a nursing class. I worked in a hospital for- blah,blah,blah.

"And my dad's in the millitary-"

"Oh yeah, I do bootcamp too." He counters, as if it's a competition. "I can do forty or so push ups and the sergeant always lets me skip PT because my father is the base commander person."


"Yeah, and like, even though my dad is the base commander I still like to help out with the drill-blah, blah, blah."

"Okay, I gave you the benefit of the doubt up until now. But I absolutely refuse to believe that you were one of the people who discovered the Voynich manuscript."
"Okay, I gave you the benefit of the doubt up until now. But I absolutely refuse to believe that you were one of the people who discovered the Voynich manuscript."

Why Is It Irritating?

Really, there's no blanket moment for when this kind of behavior is annoying. It's annoying all the time. You know, I've had a fairly diverse work history since getting out of high school but I don't expect to impress anyone with it. I just take what I've learned from those jobs and apply it to wherever I am at the time.

These people will stop at nothing, including name-dropping, exaggerating minor events, or constantly trying to one up anything you say or do just so they can sound cool. It's fine if you're suffering from low self esteem, or an inferiority complex, but when you wear it like a cape and tell people you're a superhero it needs to stop.

School Guidance Counselors

The Wal*Mart Greeters of Schools across the Globe.
The Wal*Mart Greeters of Schools across the Globe. | Source

3: "Are you doing X because Y?"

This kind of ties back in with the straw man argument. But it takes it up one notch or two by falling under the category of assumption. In this instance, the idiot is a guidance counselor, or a teacher, or even a coworker with whom you've made the mistake of sharing your hopes and dreams. This person may even know something about your background, or may have guessed about your background because of what street you live on, where you've lived before now, etc.

"So what do you want to do after graduation?" The idiot asks.

"Oh, I was thinking of getting into childcare." You respond.

"Oh," idiot says, with a sympathetic frown. "Is that because your dad left when you were little and you feel sorry for other children?"


Why Is This Irritating?

It's like seeing a woman who is slightly overweight and asking her when the baby is due. If any elaboration on this point is required you should probably start wearing kevlar when you go shopping.

2: Oh, You're the psychic Now?

 This sort of feeds off of the previous statement. Only instead of making a rash judgment based on what the idiot knows, or sees about you, this refers to what the person thinks they know about you.

So, by this time you're pretty annoyed with this idiot, who is sitting across from you. But, you want to be diplomatic about this, so you take the moral high road. "I'm sorry, I'm really hungry right now and I'd like to just read this book and relax before my next class."

The idiot snorts. "Oh, you just don't want to talk to me because I'm not," -bonus points if he uses air quotes, or says this in a mocking tone, - "intellectual enough for you."

Baby that ain't love!

Why is it Irritating?

Yes, it's true that you're an idiot. It's even true that in the short time I've known you, I have decided that I would rather rent a room with Charles Manson and invite the living members of Sharon Tate's over family for Thanksgiving dinner then ever have to spend any more time with you.

But, for the love of god. Don't you see the book? Do you realize we're at lunch? Are these things not plausible as well? And so what if I do think I'm too intellectual for you? Is staying here and acting like one going to improve my opinion? Probably not. So just go away. 

This obviously is an issue whether they know your true intentions or not. REO Speedwagon wrote a whole song about it. I mean, really, is there anything more annoying than having someone tell you what you are thinking?

1: The Insincere Apology, or "I don't have to take this! I'm going home!"

So the idiot, thoroughly trumped by the fact that you are not, in fact, his posse, gets up and walks away in a huff. More than likely this will end in the exchange of some kind of four letter explitive. But the important thing is he's going away.

What...oh wait, no, he's still standing there. he shaking his head at you? And what the hell are his hands doing on his hips, does he think he's Superman?

"I'm so sorry," he says. "I'm sorry for wasting my time with you. Here I thought you wanted some company and I thought I'd come over and sit down, but you clearly don't want it."

Urkel wrote the book on being the jackass of which I speak in this hub.

Why It's Irritating.

Because he couldn't just leave. He had to try to sneak one last win in by making it seem like he was doing you a favor. Like he wasn't the one who was interrupting you while you were reading, meditating, or doing something else that is generally not considered a "team sport".

This comes up in other scenarios too. An overly helpful person who gets in your face after a bad day, when all you want to do is relax and forget about. In typical Steve Urkel fashion, this idiot always acts like you are the bad guy for not wanting someone in your personal space.


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    • NateSean profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Salem, MA

      Ah yes. An anonymous commenter. Truly a sign of a man/woman/child/all of the above who does contribute more to the world than simply converting oxygen to carbon dioxide.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Kitty Fields 

      7 years ago from Summerland

      Voted up and hilarious, NateSean! My favorite would have to be the "Barbie Syndrome". I know someone exactly like that! And this person will actually correct me on anything and everything I say, because apparently he knows it all and has done it all! Uber annoying! Great hub, though. Keep it up, friend.

    • Jlava73 profile image

      Jennifer Vasconcelos 

      7 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

      Pretty funny perspective.

    • GNelson profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      I had a friend who would make up false statitics to prove his point. Good thing I liked him.


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