Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 27 September, 2023
# dear fifi
Dear Fifi: How do I deal with people who just really f*cking annoy me?
Back at it again.


The earth is scorched and Sun Mania has worn off to be replaced by something approaching a weary, endless Sun Ennui. Hopefully, by the time you’re reading this, a real rain will have come and washed all this scum off the streets. 

Sun playing tricks on you? Tell me all about it. 


What do you make of irritating work colleagues? When I say irritating, I mean the type with the ability to make your blood boil, and makes every day a struggle to hide my utter disdain. Some examples:

  • He looks at your computer to see what you are looking at to strike up conversation
  • He taps his desk like he’s playing drums consistently
  • He has a loud opinion on EVERYTHING, in fact I tend to argue the complete opposite and tie myself in political knots in order to do so, just as an outlet to pass off some of my ill feeling towards him
  • He narrates everything he does. “Hmm, think I’ll make myself a cuppa”… “Ughhhh tired today, lads”… “Sooo what shall I eat today?”
  • I recently caught him putting an orange on my desk, asked him what he was doing, he said it wasn’t his so must be mine – I made it clear it wasn’t, and didn’t want it. That day coming home what did I find in my bag? Yes, the orange.

I am resigned to the fact I’ll have to find a way of completely distancing myself, albeit hard when sat right beside him for 10 hours. It is a thin line with not entertaining someone so infantile, and coming across as extremely ignorant though, isn’t it? 

You can’t do anything about how other people behave, but you can do something about how you react to them.

I think you need to assess how you are contributing to the negative atmosphere with this man. Perhaps when it’s all laid out back to you like this, you might be able to see you’re being a bit unreasonable in return. For example – why do you feel the need to argue the opposite to his opinion? Why are you allowing your hackles to be raised over a misplaced orange? Why does him saying he’s going to make a cup of tea annoy you so acutely?

We all get irritated by others at times. It’s simply a fact of life. But be aware: what this man is doing seems trivial enough and your reaction may be disproportionate. Allowing yourself to rise to it is only hurting yourself. You’re running the risk of feeling (and appearing) petty, argumentative and short-fused in response. Rise above it. Be the bigger person.

Look, I’m not going to deny the realities of the world here by claiming that everyone has some special merit, deep down inside, if we just truly look for it, that they are fighting their own battles so be kind at all times, blah blah. That’s all true, but it’s also true that some people are just plain annoying to some others. That’s absolutely fine to acknowledge. That doesn’t mean we should hate them for it though – or even allow them to affect our own day badly. Don’t give other people the power to do that.

Acknowledge it – and let it go. Let me repeat that. Acknowledge it. Let it go. How you perceive this man doesn’t need to be dwelled on at all, let alone catalogued into a list of shortcomings that you then trot out to prove his lack of worth. Let it go in and out, washing over you. “That’s annoying. Oh well.”

This negative sentiment is fundamentally causing you more grief than anyone else, but luckily it’s in your power to control it. Shape your own reactions. Tune it out. Listen to music. Ignore him. Laugh along. Whatever works. Never put down to malice what can be explained by ignorance. Choose how you react carefully. Decide that it won’t be fruitless anger, which only serves to wind you up and achieves nothing in the long run.

Is an orange in your bag really the hill you want to die on? In fact, do you want to think about it for longer than 10 seconds of your precious life? Does this man really matter?

Remember that the key to happiness is sometimes a short memory, especially in a workplace. Try to be chilled out at any opportunity you get and not get sucked into negative spirals. If you complain about this person to others, I suggest you stop immediately. Verbalising every negative sentiment is only perpetuating the cycle of you noticing them fastidiously. From a purely cynical standpoint, it is doubtless making you look grumpy at best (or unprofessional at worst) to colleagues too.

Don’t indulge the worst parts of yourself, no matter how justified you feel it is. It’s all too easy to allow ourselves to be enraged by someone walking too slow on the street, interrupting us, skipping us in a queue, whatever it is. It takes harder work – proper graft, really – to get to a place where we acknowledge it, then let it go.

Speaking from a personal place, my twenties up to this point have been a sustained effort at mellowing out. By nature I can be prickly. I have to work against my worst impulses in this regard. I’ve come to realise that if I always aim to rise above, I make myself (and everyone around me) much happier. It’s a work in progress, and I lapse, but it’s a worthy goal. It helps me like myself more when I resist the easiness of losing my temper. I wholeheartedly recommend it to you. Try with this man. Start in small ways, every day.

Unfortunately, what our mothers have been saying to us for years is true: one, there’s almost certainly two of you in it, and two, you’d be wise to let it pass in one ear and out the other. Seek the wider wisdom buried in those familiar words and give this guy (and yourself) a break.


Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

Check out previous advice>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel