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How to handle annoying relatives, friends and deal with feelings of irritation

Updated on April 3, 2013

How to deal with annoying people

Many of us will be ushering in Christmas with the customary gifts and gatherings. It is the time of year when we meet people-relatives from all walks of life, friends and ultimately, friends of friends. Some of these will be people who send the hairs on our skin standing a little on end.

Ms. Empty Pockets bearing no gifts will come around, as will Mr. Braggart who has no hold barred about gloating about his or his child’s achievements. Then, there is Miss Personal Information, the egotist who cannot resist sharing everything about their personal lives.

These folks are the ones we will run into at some point during our festivities. We may find such relatives overbearing, but the fact of the matter is that we will have to deal with them.


Simple ways to deal with annoying people

Without going into the specifics, here are some simple suggestions for dealing with the annoying relative or friend whom, for a variety of reasons, you still have to invite to the party.

Tune annoying people out.

There are many people you will have to interact with during a Christmas gathering or on any occasion at all. Make it a point to be polite, but spend more time talking to others at the gathering or event.

If there is no one to socialize with, turn on your MP3 player or watch a Youtube video. Forcing yourself to socialize with someone who annoys you might only serve to make you angry and spoil the mood of the occasion.

Make other plans.

If you sense the situation becoming uncomfortable, you can always make other plans and leave the event. You can always have another gathering to go to or make one!


Try to be nice, but not overly welcoming.

We should be tolerant and forgiving of the annoying relatives and friends we run into at gatherings, but it is not necessary to be too pleased with them coming around. It sends the wrong signal and might encourage irritating behavior.

Remember that people are annoying you to get a reaction from you.

Sometimes, people deliberately annoy you to get a reaction from you. Giving in with an emotional reaction to irritating comments and behaviors only serves to make them want to prolong their unwanted conduct.

I have a cousins who just annoy me to bits with inappropriate comments about this, that or the other. I usually tell myself that they are deliberately trying to provoke me and to not give in to them.

Give non-committal responses awkward questions.

If there is someone who always persists in asking questions that make you uncomfortable, the best way to deal with them is with a simple “I don’t know, perhaps someone else has a better answer to that.”

I have an annoying aunt who used to badger me with questions about whether I had a boyfriend or fiancé before I got married. I often used that answer on her and she would give up asking after I persistently gave her non committal answers, still with a smile.

Use the environment around you.

If the place is filled with people, use that as an excuse to get out of answering awkward questions. If the room is quiet but an annoying person is talking too loudly, that can be something that facilitates the ending of irritating behavior as well.

Say “the place is too noisy, let’s talk later” or “it’s too quiet to talk about this here.” This usually gives the hint to end any awkward conversations and behaviors.


Different personalities who irritate you

These are some personalities we are familiar with. We will run into them, or more often into someone with a combination of them. So how do we deal with these interesting folk?

Mr Empty Pockets

You may be familiar with Mr. Empty Pockets - the sort who will show up at your Christmas gathering without observing the courtesy of bringing a gift because it is too expensive. Alternatively Mr. Empty Pockets may show up in the form of a relative or friend who refuses to contribute anything to the gathering or event.

Unless something drastic happens, such a person is not likely to pull his weight and must be accepted as such. If you can, avoid including Mr. Pockets at future gatherings or if he must be part of the proceedings because he is a relative you cannot avoid inviting, then suggest something that will be less expensive.


Miss Braggart

We all know the sort all too well. Miss Braggart’s the narcissistic relative or friend who will not stop gloating over his or his child’s achievements! He cannot resist telling others about how well his son is doing in school or about his latest promotion.

While we are happy for them, such narcissistic behavior is annoying and very inconsiderate. The best way to get round the behavior is to realize that Miss Braggart’s actions stem from insecurity, and where you can, steer clear.


Mr. Personal Information

Mr. Personal information is the relative or friend who whines persistently about his or her own personal problems. If the person is a close relative or superior, the situation can be very uncomfortable indeed.

Remember that Mr. Personal Information just unloads to vent or seek attention and rarely wants advice. It is best not to give any advice of your own as a fodder either, for it just prolongs the vent.


Miss Cell Phone Freak

She usually speaks very loudly over her cell phone and lets everyone know the intimate details of her conversation on purpose to get attention. They often interrupt people by picking up calls in the middle of conversations.

The best way to deal with Miss Cell Phone Freak is to leave the room the minute they start talking on it in the middle of the conversation. This will make them more alert to the situation.


Mr Unwanted Advisor

He is a know-it-all who is a close relative of Miss Braggart. Another narcissist, he assumes that his criticisms and advice is the best and is too willing to share his knowledge because he knows so much more than you or anyone else.

The best way to deal with Mr Unwanted Advisor is to withhold any information that he can advise on!


Mrs. Busy Body

This is the lady (or man) who will ask all kinds of personal questions, like when you are having children or what you were thinking when you bought that couch.

The best way to deal with Mrs. Busy Body is to excuse oneself and get someone who knows her well to talk to her. This will distract her so that she asks no more questions.

Mr. Couch Surfer

This intriguing personality will spend hours switching channels on the television set and will not leave for a long time.

To deal with people who overstay their welcome, set a time for guests to arrive and leave. Usually, most will leave by the appointed time.


How to cope with feelings of annoyance

Concentrate on something else.

When talking to someone who is annoying, concentrate on something else to divert your own attention from the conversation. It gives time to realize that it is a waste of time to be angry.

Check your body language.

Remain calm and collected as far as possible, and do not let angry body language send messages that will escalate matters or cause unnecessary conflict.

Being annoyed can stem from your own lack of patience.

Annoyance can stem from a lack of understanding and patience. There can be a sense of superiority and simply be annoyed by people just by seeing them.

In such cases, it is time for a little reflection. There may be biases about certain people or things which arouses strong dislike on your part. Remember that it is not right at any time to generalize. Approach things with an open mind and a thing or two can be learnt.

Most people do not know that they are annoying.

Realize that most people are not aware of how annoying they are. So that is when you have to give them a little constructive feedback and let them know instead of letting the annoyance fester into boiling anger.

Assert yourself.

Sometimes, it is good to assert yourself if you want to see a change being made. Let the person know tactfully that his behavior is bothering you and assure him that there are no hard feelings, that you are against the behavior, not the person.

Have a little empathy.

It is good to realize that as much as you are annoyed with a person, others can also be annoyed with you. Try adopting a more compassionate, guiding approach to lead them out of the annoying behavior.

Give constructive feedback rather than blowing your top or creating a negative atmosphere.


Annoying personalities are an irremovable part of life, but there are ways we can remove ourselves from annoying situations and annoyed feelings. Here’s to a little patience with yourself and others.


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    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Love is always a great reinforcer. This is true......while we find some traits annoying, we can be annoying to others without realizing it ourselves! And it's also good to remember that we all have strengths and weaknesses to complement each other, not condemn. Thanks for sharing, aufait, and I hope your student will bee comfortable when his mum comes by.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      8 years ago from North Texas

      I think it is the responsibility of a good guest to help the host and hostess see that every guest has an enjoyable time. I learned that from my older brothers when I was just a preteen. That means being kind even to those people you won't miss when the party's over.

      I think it never occurs to some people that they are obnoxious and irritating to others. Some people do intentionally try to push your buttons, but you have control of your buttons and they can only succeed if you let them.

      No one is perfect and all of us get on somebody's nerves sometimes. If something doesn't affect me in a substantive way I don't worry about it. Between my coworkers and my assigned kids I could easily be out of sorts 24/7, but I choose not to take things personally as much as possible.

      I prefer not to give over the power of deciding what sort of day I'm going to have to other people. It's much easier to get through the day when I control my own feelings rather than letting other people do it.

      I work with difficult children. Currently I am working with children who have behavioral problems. The sort that sometimes end up in alternative school.

      In the workplace there are many people who will get on one's nerves if one allows that to happen. We all really do have control over that if we choose to take control.

      I just found out today that one of my kids that is the most difficult to like is going to have a visit from his homeless mother for this weekend. He lives with his father. What must it be like to know your mother is homeless and there's not a thing you can do about it? She isn't homeless because of drugs or alcohol, but because she is unable to find employment. Don't forget, many employers won't even consider hiring someone who is unemployed. This young man makes all your descriptions above look like angels. Yet he is a human being and going through a very difficult time for anyone, let alone a young boy.

      Most people are who they are for a reason. Maybe they've been kicked around a lot or not had yours and my good fortune. That's not your fault, but why make it worse?

      I hope the next time you must deal with some of these people you find annoying that you will try really hard to be kind and give them a few minutes of your time. No need to be best friends or invite them to dinner or any of that. Just take a few minutes to say a few kind words.

      Boastful people are usually insecure people who must blow their own horn or no one will, and likely no one else ever has. See if you can find something worth sincerely complimenting them on, something about them you can admire, and let them know. You may be the only person in their lives who will ever do that.

      Then move on and tell them you have to spend time with the other guests too, because to do otherwise would be rude.

      A well written, good hub to help people to stop and think, hopefully about someone besides themselves -- or perhaps to take inventory of whether they might be one of the obnoxious examples listed.

      Not everyone has the same strengths as we ourselves have. Everyone wants attention and love. When they get the love they need you would be amazed at the new people they often become.

      Voted up and will share!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      With the advent of social media, there are so many of them! Thanks for sharing'

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      Voted up and awesome. I especially enjoyed the Mrs busy body - I know a lot of these.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      I think we just have to spend those 2 to 3 hours biting our tongue and keeping the peace. There is no sense wasting bad energy! Thanks for sharing!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools Hogg 

      8 years ago from North-East UK

      Interesting hub Michelle. There was just the three of us at home this year and we had no visitors so all was calm! Singer Imogen Heap has a great song called 'Just For Now' which is all about a Christmas family gathering and how 'just for now' you have to bite your tongue, count to 10 and think of England! (as the saying goes here!)

    • Kasman profile image


      8 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Wow Midget, when they talk about the bases being covered.....they must mean this hub. I am sure at some point in my life I have been one or a few of these types you've mentioned. I just have to remind myself that there may be people that annoy me but I'm sure I have annoyed someone else as well. Sometimes, I've completely done it unwittingly. Awesome hub, voting up and sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      I have to relate to that, Tammy! It's hard to watch people doing things that are out of line and not say anything about it. Unfortunately, it is the way they are! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Ish!

    • tammyswallow profile image


      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow Midget,

      This is one of my favorites of yours so far. You really covered a lot here. I have Mr. Empty Pockets and the Advisor in my family. I am sure to my sons (20's) and younger kids in the family, I am seen as the Unwanted Advisor. It is hard to have all this life experience and watch people do crazy things. Excellent hub!

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      8 years ago from Chennai, India

      An engaging hub with a list of valid points! You described the personalities of unwanted guests to a T and you rightly stated that we cannot avoid them and instead we try to be diplomatic and normal with them as well as maintaining a distance from them. Once again, a wise and sensible hub! Way to go!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & shared

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Martie! Wow, I am blown away by this insightful sharing. I think those around you very much appreciate your honesty and that's why they love you!

      Yes, we need to approach these situations with love. You are so right; bragging comes from a too well-ingrained inferiority complex, asking someone to share can come from the good intent of getting others to unload their worries and the lady with the empty pockets could have reason for being stingy. These folk definitely may not realize that they sometimes trespass on others....

      I love the Lords prayer on this one: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." We do it all the time, so definitely, someone else will annoy us sometimes.

      Love is definitely the answer! Nope, you are Miss Wanted!! Thanks for sharing, Martie.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Oh gosh, sorry midget, I was now nobody else but Mr Unwanted Advisor in here :(

      If only I can keep my opinions to myself, I will not be unbearable....


    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      I think I am one of the 'overbearing' members in my family, but some of the 'wall-flowers' actually love me to bits, because I am taking the attention away from them and give them the ideal opportunity to do what they like to do - sit where they sit, think what they think, criticizing in their hearts everybody except themselves.

      During family reunions it would be so rude to turn on one's MP3 player or watch a Youtube video, or even using one's cell phone to interact with online friends, unless during a break when everybody has some time to do their own thing.

      I think we need pure love, insight, tolerance and consideration for others, and not only during the Christmas season, but always.

      Those braggarts have a deep-rooted hunger for recognition and love; Ms. Empty Pockets does have a deep-rooted reason for being so stingy, and she may not even be aware of it, poor soul! Miss Personal Information, the egotist who cannot resist sharing everything about their personal lives - (this might very likely be me) - may perhaps be the one trying to get everybody out of their comfortable bubble, encouraging them to share their highlights and even darkest secrets too, in order to receive the love and support they also desperately need....

      Somewhere in the Bible is the best advice: Romans 13:8 - "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." (The Law of love God the most and your fellowman as much as you love yourself.)

      How to handle annoying relatives voted up and well stressed. Thank you, midget :)

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Oh dear, QuidsiaP1! It's hard to be tolerant of these obnoxious folk, and like some of our friends say, there really is nothing that says we have to be around them....but it's hard to avoid them all the time, so it's good to have a few tricks of our own up our sleeves. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, we should find ways to tune them out because no matter how we try there are times when we simply cannot avoid them! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Thank goodness for that, Hatter!

    • QudsiaP1 profile image


      8 years ago

      That description sounds like my ENTIRE family, lol.

      It made me laugh; thank you for sharing it. I swear sometimes I just bite on my tongue and use all invisible restraints to stop myself from bitch slapping everyone :P

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      That's cool, Paula!! Good thing they just don't know that they are annoying and don't mean it. Thanks for sharing, and have a. Merry Xmas!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Yea, Jo, live life for yourself..too short to be annoyed by others! Thanks for coming by!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Carter06!! Have a merry Xmas this year with your loved ones!

    • carter06 profile image


      8 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Great ideas for handling the inevitable difficulties with people this season... Good job midget & cheers for this wonderful season...

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      8 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Michelle, very interesting, and so true. I decided a long time ago, life is too short to waste on of folks who are too rude, too inconsiderate or just darn right mean. I spend my time with the people I care about and those that care about me. It's not always easy, but it's less stressful.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      8 years ago from Carson City

      Midget...Very Good! You are right on target with these suggestions. Isn't it great that we can choose from so many ways to handle these unpleasant situations? you pointed out in this interesting hub, there are those who "deliberately," set out to annoy and disturb. Honestly...those are the only individuals who have a tendency to irk me. Fortunately for me, most of the family and friends I might see during the Holidays are totally and innocently CLUELESS as to how annoying they are!!! LOL In those cases....ya gotta love'em!....and I do!...UP++++

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I have always managed to deal respectfully with all kinds of people. However, I have come to the conclusion that there is no law that says I have to attend any event where I need to devise methods for avoidance or "making nice" with purposely obnoxious individuals, family or not. Life is too short to give away time simply "getting through" a holiday or anyday. Being true to myself now includes declining any invitation that vexes my spirit. It's better for everyone in my book.

      Thank you for a thought provoking article, Michelle. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      8 years ago from New York

      I really have to agree with Mhatter...I just tolerate those who are annoying. I simply cannot hurt their feelings even though your suggestions shouldn't hurt their feelings....they are good ones and ways to gently skirt around those annoying folks.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this useful information. I have an extremely high tolerance level. One must be the "scum of the earth" to upset me.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Enjoy a cosy Xmas with the family, Xstatic. Good idea to confiscate the remote beforehand. At least they'll have no TV to watch! No, I highly doubt that you'll be annoying at all!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      And am looking forward to the tequila during Christmas! Thanks for sharing,europewalker!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Thank goodness it's just once a year, isn't it, Mary? Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, Nancy, absolutely agreed. Thing is...we cannot avoid them, especially if they are members of your immediate family! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Hi DDE! Oh yes, we've all run into more than a few! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Usually, they'd be a combination of characteristics. We'll run into them...but let's deal with them! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Yes....sometimes we find people annoying simply because we have pre-formed biases already. Traits don't complete a human being, and you've said it well here. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, love doctor! Overall, the best way would be to love them, but distance ourselves from them and their behavior. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Just a teacher, I hope I won't too. Won't be easy when they are your relatives, though! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      LOL! Maria, I'm sure clairvoyants everywhere will be able to spot these people in a minute. It's not easy to strike a balance when dealing with these folks. Thanks for coming by!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      True, we should surround ourselves with people who are positive. Thanks for coming by and commenting, Bill.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 

      8 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      We have seen all the types you mention so well here and your advice is great. I really could not tolerate the couch surfer, though, and would simply confiscate or "lose" the remote. It will only be my wife, daughter and me here for Christmas day and I hope my daughter will not find me any more annoying than usual.

    • europewalker profile image


      8 years ago

      Very relatable hub with great tips. Sometimes a shot of tequila helps! Voted up and awesome:)

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      8 years ago from Florida

      The folks you describe here sound like some of my friends and relatives! I just tolerate these behaviors cause I know I won't have to be subjected to it again for a LONG time.

      Great Hub, I voted UP, etc.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      8 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      You know life is much too short to spend the holidays with the people you dislike. Just spend the holidays at home with you immediate family. It frees you.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      8 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      You are so right about everything you said in this Hub i have been there and know exactly what it is like with these kinds of people.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      8 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Way to go Michelle! I'm sure everyone reading this could relate to not just one, but a few of these characteristics in family members. I wish everyone good luck! Your tips are fantastic!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub Michelle..I think it is important to acknowledge, as you have, that it could be partially down to our own impatience and lack of understanding...generalising is an easy trap to fall into...people may have annoying traits, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the trait is the person...I think taking time and being patient may allow you to see another part of them you hadn't noticed before. Voted up and awesome:-))

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      awesome & very useful information. I think you have pretty much described them all. Great strategies for dealing with these personality types.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      8 years ago from New York, New York

      Really great tips Michelle and loved how you put all the different types of annoying people out there as well. I think it is inevitable to know annoying people and every family has one. It is how you deal with it that makes the difference. Thanks again for sharing some wonderful advice here!!

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 

      8 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Good tips! Hopefully I won't need them! Hope you will have a great Christmas!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      8 years ago from Jeffersonville PA


      Are you clairvoyant...? You have included a picture of MY family and you seem to know everyone!

      This is a beautiful piece and I totally agree with your strategies...

      Merry Christmas to you! Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Useful tips, Michelle! I honestly do not have the time or effort it requires to deal with annoying people. I eliminate them from my life and surround myself with positive, upbeat, supportive people.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, indeed they are, Carol. Being around friends is less taxing because there are fewer obligations sometimes. Yes, people get strange during the holiday...and suddenly, once in a year, appear in front of you! Thanks for sharing!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      I think annoying people are just part of life's landscape. We will not be around family this year...just friends. Sometimes easier to take. I had a friend once tell me that people are strange during the holiday...and I find that tobe true except for me. ..of course...Well done and you covered it all.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Like it or hate it, annoying people are part of our lives. Here are some suggestions on coping with annoying people and annoyed feelings.


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