Decreasing Workplace Annoyances

Ok, it’s Tuesday morning. Have any of your colleagues made you nuts so far this week? I bet at least one has. And, depending on the severity of his or her behavior, you may have gone on a momentary mental tirade about that person and thought, “Why do they have to be SO annoying?!”

I don’t know the answer, but you are on the right track when you ask, “Why?” The key to making that question useful is to stop making it rhetorical. Consider what it would feel like if instead of asking, “Why do they have to be SO annoying?” you asked, “I wonder why they do that?” Now imagine that you actually wanted to know the answer.

Becoming sincerely curious about why someone does something can make a difference because it can change your perspective. Along with general indignation, a little practical interest can enter your mind.

If your curiosity comes from really wanting to know why someone always asks for things at the last minute, steals your coffee mug, comments on your work in uselessly vague terms or engages in other generally annoying behavior, you might notice that you don’t feel as agitated or hostile toward the person or situation. It’s not that the behavior isn’t still annoying – it is. But the second we stop and become curious about a topic, we have access to our brain’s creative and trouble-shooting abilities and can turn down the volume on our emotional reactivity. Our physical experience of that curiosity can feel like muscles unwinding, breath deepening and blood pressure lowering.

So, on this second day of the workweek, know that your colleagues are likely to aggravate you at some point over the next several days. If you get curious you may find that those annoying colleagues are, miraculously, a bit less so.

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