I am not known for my social skills. (Or my cooking, but that's another blog post.) But I try to be polite. I make eye contact on most days, and since no one has punched me in the face, I am probably not saying anything too horrible to tolerate. But just because I am nodding politely or smiling doesn't mean that I don't get irritated or annoyed at some people. Most of the time I hide my annoyance well, or at least I think I do. Anyway, here are the five people guaranteed to irritate me. I've given them nicknames because I watched too much Seinfeld. Sorry. Feel free to add your annoying people to the list in the comments.
1. One-Uppers I guess that these sorts of people are competitive or something, but whatever story that you are telling, they must go one better. You ran a marathon? They run four a year. You climbed Mt. Everest? They've done it twice. No matter what triumph or trial you've experienced, they've experienced it more. Usually when a sentence starts with "Oh, that's nothing..." you know you are in the hands of a one-upper. I do okay when it is just me being one-upped; I am not the least bit competitive about stuff like that. But when these people can't even allow me to discuss my child without jumping in with a one-up, I get annoyed. It especially bothers me when I hear a parent of a special needs child talk about a glorious milestone, and the one-uppers can't even allow THAT. If the discussion is ADHD, for example, then THEIR child has the worst-est case ever. I think that we can all agree that this is annoying. I just haven't figured out how to handle it, other than kicking the offender in the shins.
2. Jokesters I don't mind the occasional joke. Even if it is not that funny, I will still politely laugh. That's what you're supposed to do. Jokesters take that little polite laugh and run with it. Then everything is a joke. Except that I have usually moved on to the heart of the conversation, and I don't have a clue that you're still in jokester mode. I don't always pick up on the nonverbal cues that indicate that a person is joking, so whatever you're saying? I'm taking it seriously. That means that if you start faking a heart attack to get a laugh, I will be hooking you up to the AED. I may or may not stop the AED from shocking you, just because I'm annoyed. Okay, I won't actually shock you. But I'll certainly think about it.
3. Won't Shut-Ups I really shouldn't mind these people. After all, they do all the talking, for themselves and for me. If I wanted, I could mentally be doing other things, like balancing my checkbook or creating menus for the month or curing cancer. If I am on the phone with this person, I could put it on speaker phone and get my laundry sorted and the litter box cleaned out. The WSUs wouldn't even notice, because they are too busy talking. That is all they do--talk. Except that I've chosen to talk to this person for a reason, and I can't get a word in! Conversations require reciprocity, right? You talk, then you let me talk. Rinse and repeat. There's a saying that you hear at those motivational seminars: You have two ears and one mouth, and that means that you are supposed to do twice as much listening. The WSUs didn't get that memo.
4. TMIs Hey, I just met you and this is crazy, but let me tell you about my colonoscopy and show you the pictures of my polyps! Or let me tell you about my recent divorce. Or my erectile dysfunction and how it ruined my date last night. And yes, I have had these conversations with complete strangers. I have even had to sit and listen to a person tell me about their vaginal dryness. There's some emotional scarring, some form of PTSD that those sorts of topics inflict on a person who is not prepared. The mind immediately forms a picture, and what has been seen, cannot be unseen. And I have to wonder: where did these people get the idea that these were acceptable topics of conversation? Has no one ever sat them down and told them that complete strangers don't want to hear these intimate details? Hell, I don't think that even a person's friends want to hear about vaginal dryness, but icky conversations are part of that reciprocity required in friendships.
5. Mysteriosos Some people live for that drama, and they want everyone hanging on their every word. They want attention, so they create it. They drop hints about things that have happened to them, using phrases such as "...after what I've been through", so you will ask them about what they've been through. They'll call you and leave a rushed message asking you to call them, instead of telling you why they called. They'll email you suddenly about a meeting, but when you ask, they won't tell you what the meeting is about. They want you to stew, or they want to stir the pot. It drives me nuts, the drama. Just tell me. Rip that band-aid right off. Communication is all about plain speaking, and we need more of that, not less.