Annoying relatives are a fact of life, though they can be irritating in a variety of ways. Dealing with irritable relatives requires first realising that you don’t have to believe them, react to them, or agree with them in any way, even if you will be frustrated and annoyed a lot. In any case, you’ll have to deal with them to varying degrees at various times, and there are several approaches you can take. Try them all until you find a winning combination!
Method 1 Preventing Getting Annoyed
1. Avoid spending time with your vexing relatives. If you have relatives who you know will always irritate you, try to avoid seeing or being around them as much as possible.
If you can’t completely avoid them, try to spend as little time as possible with them.
If you must spend time with them, try to speak to them as little as possible.
2. Ignore your annoyance-inducing relatives. If you must be around your super-annoying relatives, try ignoring them when they say or do something annoying to you, or simply walk away.
Ignoring annoying behaviours (and there are many) is a good way to stand out and avoid engaging, even if they irritate you.
3. Do something by yourself. When you’re in a place with annoying relatives, solitary activities can help you build a wall of insulation around yourself.
To get away, go into the kitchen or a bedroom.
Put on your headphones. Wearing headphones communicates to those around you that you are not interested in conversing and are completely engrossed in your music, podcast, or whatever you are listening to.
Get a book and read it. Even the most obnoxious people will not interrupt you while you are reading. If they do, simply respond, “I’m reading something for work/school/something important.”
4. Get yourself a social buffer. A buffer can be someone who knows how to deal with irritable relatives, such as a mother, father, sibling, or friend, and can deal with them so you don’t have to.
Social buffers should be made aware of their responsibilities in advance. Don’t bring one and expect them to do everything while you hide.
The benefit of social buffering should be reciprocated!
Method 2: Communicating with and Relating to Annoying Relatives
1. Wait before responding if you do speak. Before you speak, take a deep breath and wait.
Sometimes the person will change the subject without missing a beat, saving you the trouble.
Allowing yourself a moment to think before speaking prevents you from overreacting or saying something you’ll later regret.
Prepare some responses to the vexing questions you’re sure to be asked ahead of time.
2. Repeat what they said that irritated you. The best way to let someone know they were heard is to repeat what they said to you.
Listening is an acquired skill, and repeating what they say can demonstrate not only what they said, but also how it feels to hear those words.
3. Change the subject. If your relative is being particularly obnoxious, try changing the subject or unexpectedly asking them a question.
4. Be respectful, genuine, and diplomatic when you speak. When you do decide to speak, do so respectfully and only to the extent that you desire. When they ask you questions, try to respond as authentically as possible.
Improve your listening skills. Listening is more than just waiting for someone else to finish speaking.
5. Stay away from trigger topics, both yours and theirs. Perhaps you are aware that your political beliefs differ from those of your relatives, or that your body piercings and blue hair make your grandparents cringe. To keep the peace, temper your perspectives and, if possible, your appearance.
Instead of bringing up sensitive or controversial topics, suggest useful alternatives.
If they say something to you, whether good or bad, simply thank them and move on.
Don’t always argue with them. Conflict is caused by arguing with another person.
6. Pick your battles wisely. Not everything they say is strange, awful, rude, or ignorant, and not everything they say needs to be corrected.
If they say something hurtful or strange about someone you care about or love, you will most likely want to respond, so prepare some responses and comments ahead of time.
7. Take a break if you need one. Needing a break from someone is not a flaw, and you can leave a conversation if you need to by excuse yourself and returning when you’ve had a chance to collect yourself.
Take another break if you need it! Repeat as needed. Perhaps you’re attempting to engage in a conversation that you would have avoided or ignored previously.
8. Understand and defend your boundaries. Knowing what will cause your impatience, anger, or annoyance ahead of time is the first step toward regaining control of your well-being.
If you can, ask the person not to bring up the topic/issue again, or let them know you haven’t forgotten about their question and will respond as soon as you can.
If they press you, remain silent and change the subject.
9. Allow it to go and walk away. If none of the above techniques work, simply end the conversation and walk away.
Not responding is still a response, one that says, “This is too unpleasant a subject to deal with.”
Walking away demonstrates self-respect and the ability to “live and let live.” Let’s move on!
Method 3 Accepting Your Annoying Relative
1. Accept that the person irritates you. Accepting a vexing relative isn’t always easy, but there are steps you can take to make it happen.
Spend short periods of time alone with them. This may appear to be the exact opposite of what you want to do, but even a small amount of your undivided attention can go a long way toward diffusing annoying behaviour.
2. Change them, but love them. It may seem counterintuitive, but being loving can often prevent annoyances from occurring. And it will undoubtedly alter your perspective.
It is not your purpose in life to change them because you will fail and waste your energy.
Include love and acceptance in everything you say and do.
3. Accept yourself for who you are. Accept, rather than deny, that you have difficulty dealing with irritable people, and that some of these people are members of your family.
Don’t blame them when you’re irritated or annoyed. You are the one who is unable to deal with it, and admitting this is the first step toward accepting responsibility.
Focus on what you can do better to become the person you want to be, regardless of who you’re with or what they do or say. If you concentrate on yourself, you will always come out ahead.
4. Be considerate. Being compassionate to yourself and those around you can go a long way toward alleviating annoyance.
Compassion is an active, not passive, emotion that develops over time.
You will fail to be compassionate from time to time, but with annoying relatives, you will always have a new opportunity to practise!
Method 4 Visiting Annoying Relatives
1. Plan a brief visit. If you are visiting or staying with relatives who irritate you, plan to stay for a short period of time, whether it is for dinner or the weekend.
Set aside two to three hours for dinner if asked. Lunch should take no more than one and a half hours.
If you are asked to come over on the weekend, allow three hours at most and try to plan an actual activity so that you have something to do together.
2. Maintain your composure. Getting worked up ahead of time can ruin any chance you have of getting through the visit without becoming upset or agitated, as well as your chances of making good decisions due to stress.
A little stress can help you become more aware, but too much can ruin you. Being able to calm yourself will assist you in responding appropriately, and you may even surprise yourself.
3. Be a gracious host. Being a good guest entails respecting your hosts’ hours and habits, adhering to the house rules, and even, to some extent, offsetting the cost of your visit in thoughtful ways.
Discuss your plans and free time ahead of time so you know what you’ll need to schedule, rent, and so on.
Don’t take over public spaces, spread out, or take over the bathroom or kitchen.
Don’t talk on the phone or listen to music loudly in public places. Take a walk outside or into a bedroom, or put on your headphones.
Do not forget to clean up after yourself in the bathroom and kitchen. If you are able, offer to clean up after others as well, such as putting away dishes, taking out the trash, and so on.
To keep things running smoothly and to replace what you consume, offer to run errands, pick up groceries, or take-out.
After your departure, leave them with a nice hostess gift and, of course, a handwritten thank you note.
Method 5: Having Annoying Relatives Visit You
1. When they arrive, take some time off. Try to take some time off to show your relatives that they are important to you.
If you don’t have to juggle work when they arrive, you’ll be less stressed, even if you do have to work during the visit.
2. Appropriately greet them. Welcoming visitors to your home or city can entail a variety of activities, but they almost always include washing and/or eating.
If they are staying at your house, ask them if they want to wash their hands or eat first, and then make that happen.
After they’ve been fed and/or showered and shown to their room or hotel, talk about your plans for the visit.
3. Make a plan for their stay and personalise it. Making your annoying relatives’ sleeping area cosy and inviting for them will disarm them in a good way.
Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to have a spare bedroom, but even if you’re staying at a hotel, you can stop by and bring them some water and snacks, a bottle of wine and a wine opener, or some nice magazines they’ll enjoy.
4. Make a list of meals and activities. Planning a few meals and activities can help you organise your time.
Don’t feel obligated to prepare elaborate dinners to impress your family, but if you enjoy cooking and it makes you happy, go ahead and do it.
Downtime is equally important, so don’t overlook it.
Plan meals or dining out alternatives that are affordable for everyone.
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