What Are You Doing That Bugs People?

Posted by Todd Smith

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What is the number-one thing people do that bugs you? Think about it for a moment.  Do you have something in mind?

How do you feel about people who do that?  Do you want to shake your head in disgust?  Do you want to roll your eyes?  Do you want to bite your tongue as you resist saying something? Do you want to blow your horn? How does this affect your impression of them?

Recently, I posed a question on the Little Things Matter Facebook page asking people to comment on what types of things other people do that bug them. More people responded to this post than any other question posed since starting this page. I hit a nerve.

Not surprisingly, people who lie, are intentionally deceitful, or flaunt arrogance were hot buttons for many who commented. The most common theme that emerged had to do with inconsiderate people. Some of the inconsiderate things listed included people who:

  • Don’t use their turn signals
  • Drive too close to the car in front of them
  • Flick their cigarette butts out the window
  • Don’t hold the door open
  • Don’t respond to emails, texts, and calls
  • Interrupt while someone is talking
  • Scan their phone or computer for messages during a conversation
  • Leave their shopping cart in the parking lot rather than returning it
  • Are late for calls and appointments
  • Eat or chew gum with their mouth open

The number and nature of these responses prompted today’s lesson that deals with what happens when we encounter someone who does the very thing that bugs us.

Even more importantly, what happens when we’re the ones who are bugging people? How does it affect their view of us?

Why You Should Care

In the context of personal and professional development, you need to know one of the worst things you can do is something that annoys or bugs another person.

Upon reading this, you may feel one of two ways:

  • Why should I care if I’m bugging anybody? I can’t please everybody!
  • What do I do that bugs people and how does this affect their view of me?

You might have guessed by now that I believe you should care. Here’s why:

  • When you have a habit that bothers other people and do nothing about it, you brand yourself as someone who is inconsiderate. Do inconsiderate people win friends, influence people, or get promotions?
  • Most people don’t even realize that what they’re doing may be bugging others. Quite plainly, this creates a big, ugly pimple on their reputation!
  • Finally, a carefree attitude of “It’s a free country; so what if you don’t like it?” will cause you to end up unloved, unappreciated, unpopular, and unhappy. Remember, it’s a small world.

Are You Ready to Learn About Yourself?

The first step toward ridding yourself of habits that others may find distasteful or offensive and preserving your reputation is to learn what you may be doing that bugs other people. The easiest way to do this is to simply ask. It may be awkward or even slightly embarrassing, but it won’t kill you.

Start with your spouse, your children, or another family member. Ask them for their honesty. And when they do offer to tell you, don’t get defensive. When you’re ready, ask a trusted colleague, supervisor, or someone who reports to you. It takes courage, but I guarantee they’ll respect you for asking, especially when they see you making an effort to change.

If you just can’t bring yourself to ask anyone outright, here are ways to figure it out yourself:

  • Make a conscious effort to watch how others are viewing your actions and reactions.
  • Notice when others seem to be turned off by something you say or do.
  • Take time to think about what you can start doing to be more considerate of others.

Today, rather than post what bugs you, I’m asking you to leave a comment about a habit of yours that you want to seriously eliminate. Simple answer this question.

If I asked my spouse, boss, co-worker, or closest friend the one thing I did that really bugs them, they would probably say _____________.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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