It can be hard to keep calm when someone is irritating you. However, it’s important that you learn how to keep your cool, even when you’re boiling on the inside.
Have you ever met someone that irritates you with everything they say or do? For whatever reason, there are people who have the special ability to get under our skin without even trying.
Even before they’ve said a word, you may feel your stress levels increasing in anticipation of being annoyed.
Tips to help you keep calm and in control, even when you’re irritated.
1. Do not lose your temper.
No matter what you do, do not lose your temper. It is easier to keep yourself from losing your temper than it is to dial things back once you’ve snapped. If the person annoying you is someone in a workplace setting, it is especially important that you don’t lose your temper.
Even when you’re really upset, don’t outwardly lose your temper. When you snap, yell, or otherwise demonstrate your anger toward another person, you lose control of the situation.
If you do lose your temper, do everything in your power to get your temper back under control. Just because you say something critical to someone doesn’t mean you have to have a full-blown show of your temper.
When you feel yourself losing control, take a few deep breaths and do what you can get regain control of your own reactions.
“Never do anything when you are in a temper, for you will do everything wrong.”
– Baltasar Gracian
2. Count to ten.
When you’re irritated, it’s easy to forget a simple solution like counting to ten. When you’re in a situation where your response is required, take a moment to count to ten before answering.
Although the pause may be awkward, it’s better to feel awkward than to say something in the heat of the moment that you’ll regret later on. If the person irritating you continue to cause you irritation, count higher than ten.
By focusing your energy on counting, you diffuse some of the anxious energy that comes with being irritated. Best of all, the other person doesn’t need to know that you’re counting!
3. Focus on your breathing.
Take a minute to focus on your own breathing. Count your breaths in and your breaths out. When you slow down your breathing, you’ll also slow down your heart rate and reduce the levels of stress hormones in your system.
This may not help you with the emotional side of dealing with irritation, but it can help you with the overwhelming physical effects of frustration. It is easier to keep your cool inward when you’ve taken control of the physical symptoms of stress.
Lowering your heart rate and lowering the levels of stress hormones may not help you feel less irritated, but it can help you respond in a dignified way.
“Breathing is the greatest pleasure in life.”
– Giovanni Papini
4. Distract yourself.
If you can focus on something else besides the person who is irritating you, that can help you stay calm. When possible, find an excuse to talk to someone else, look at your phone, or do some other activity.
If you engage your mind with something besides the person irritating you, it can help you to stay calm.
While this is helpful for some annoyances, it may not be helpful for others. If the person annoying you is someone you need to be actively engaged in conversation with, it won’t help you to do some other activity.
5. Calmly, but firmly let them know that their actions are irritating you.
If someone is annoying you and they can’t otherwise be avoided, calmly and firmly let them know that their behavior is irritating you. Sometimes the other person is completely unaware that their behavior is annoying you.
I personally have a pet peeve about whistling. I don’t mind whistling in small amounts, but if it’s constant or loud, it bothers me a lot because it causes pain in my ears.
My sister-in-law was staying with us for a week. She whistles a lot. Her constant whistling was making me feel downright crazy with irritation. When my husband let her know that whistling bothered me, she made an effort to stop for the last few days she was with us.
Most well-meaning people don’t want to cause other people irritation. When you let someone know that their actions are irritating you, you allow them to make the necessary changes to their behavior.
This can be especially helpful in a workplace setting. If someone makes a habit of irritating you, let them know that what they’re doing is bothering you.
When it happens again, send a message or provide some other written means of communicating the problem with them. If their behavior continues to be a problem, you’ll have a paper trail that will help HR determine a course of action in the situation.
“Calmness is the cradle of power.”
– Josiah Gilbert Holland
6. Find a safe outlet to vent about your irritation.
When appropriate, vent about your irritation with someone safe. Talk to a counselor, your significant other, a relative, or write in your journal about your frustration.
Acknowledging your frustration and irritation can help you deal with it in the future, especially if the irritation is something you’ll have to deal with long-term. It may not help you at the moment, but being able to vent about your irritation can help you mentally prepare for the next time you encounter this person.
If they are a person who regularly irritates you, venting about it with someone you trust can help you get to the root of the reason they irritate you so much. Make sure that you’re venting to someone who is appropriate for you to be venting to about your situation.
For example, you don’t want to vent about one coworker to another coworker. That can cause drama in the workplace. If you aren’t sure if someone is a good person to vent to or not, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
In some cases, it may not be legal for you to vent about certain issues outside of the workplace. If you’re an educator or a healthcare provider, privacy laws may prevent you from sharing about workplace situations outside of your work environment. In those cases, talk to HR about what outlets you have available to vent workplace frustrations.
7. Leave the situation.
Sometimes the best thing you can do when someone is irritating you is to leave the room. If you’re able to get away from the person who is irritating you, even if only temporarily, it can help you to keep calm.
Take a minute to walk outside. If you can’t leave the workplace, take a second to go to the bathroom. Go somewhere where you can be alone. The quieter the place, the better it is for helping you lower your irritation levels.
It may not always be appropriate to do this, but it’s a good option when you can leave. Even if you can only leave for a minute, the change in pace and the distance from the irritating person can help you regain your composure.
“Leave something for someone but dont leave someone for something.”
– Enid Blyton
8. Consider whether or not you are the problem.
This isn’t a popular option because we never want to consider that we might be the one with the problem. I certainly wouldn’t suggest this to you at the moment if you were irritated with me!
However, it’s important to take a moment to ask whether the person irritating you is actually irritating or if you’re irritable. When you’re irritable, other people will irritate you no matter what they do.
In my earlier example about my sister-in-law’s whistling, I had to acknowledge that to some extent my irritation with whistling is my own problem. Whistling is not something that most people find irritating, so it isn’t reasonable to expect my sister-in-law to know that it irritates me.
If you’re irritated by something, you may have to admit to yourself that the problem is your irritability and not the person’s actions. If you’re irritable, do what you need to do to get into a better space mentally. Spend some extra time alone, get some caffeine, or engage in your hobbies.
If your job requires you to be around people, do your best to come to work with a positive attitude. When you’re well-rested and prepared, you can better combat irritability.
You can’t always control what does and doesn’t annoy you. And you certainly can’t control another person’s words or actions. However, you can control how you react when you’re irritated. The next time someone is irritating you, use these tricks to help you stay calm.