What Can You Do When Your Friends Irritate You?

Lighten the situation with some gentle humor.
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Learning to deal with irritating and annoying people is a helpful skill for anyone. It's often easier to ignore the rude guy in the grocery line than to let go of that irritating thing your best friend did, such as blabbing your secret or whining about what she can’t have. Save your sanity and your day by calmly defusing the situation.

1 Don’t Take It Personally

Often when people irritate you, you can defuse your irritation by not taking it personally, suggests psychotherapist F. Diane Barth for “Psychology Today.” Your friend’s behavior demonstrates something about him, not you. When your friend is snippy or snide, he might be having a bad day or feel like he can’t win not matter what he does. Maybe his girlfriend dumped him or he got a bad grade on a test he was certain he aced. Be his friend and give him a pass if you can. If you can’t let it go, confront him and let him know that his behavior isn’t OK with you, suggests pastoral counselor Ed Bacon in his book “8 Habits of Love,” as cited in “Reader’s Digest.”

2 Don’t Provoke a Fight

Often whatever your friend has done isn’t worth fighting over, so pick your battles, suggests psychologist Marcia Reynolds in “How to Deal with Annoying People” for “Psychology Today." Bite your tongue and calm yourself using meditation, soothing self-talk, deep breathing or exercise to release your irritation. Control your body language while controlling your tongue, such as not rolling your eyes, planting your hands on your hips like an angry mom or sticking your tongue out like a bratty kid. You’ll thank yourself later for remaining in control.

3 The Mannerly Thing to Do

Giving your friend some space and time to settle down and stop irritating you can be good for both of you. Tell her that you need to go -- and then leave before you say or do something you’ll regret, suggests etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore in “How to Deal With Annoying People” for “Women’s Day.” If she’s complaining or gossiping, decline to participate, suggests etiquette expert Diane Gottsman in the “Woman’s Day” article.

4 Focus Your Attention

Alternatively, listen without taking offense or feeling the need to defend yourself, suggests psychiatrist Judith Orloff in “4 Tips to Cope With Annoying People” on her website. Focus your response on the behavior, without adding personal criticism, such as saying, “I don’t like listening to that type of talk.” Try to figure out what your friend is feeling and address the emotion, such as saying, “I guess you’re frustrated by what’s happened today.” Treat your friend compassionately and respectfully. Don’t let your irritation make the day worse.

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.