When people annoy you it can say more about us than it does about the person we find irritating. We wish they'd change, but maybe we ourselves are the ones who should change.

I talked about this in episode 20 of You Were Made for This.

Several weeks after it first aired I heard from Rebecca, a missionary serving in Indonesia, who apparently was dealing with this “when people annoy you” issue. It wasn’t so much related to her, as it was with several other people, including another missionary.

I love what she did with the content of episode 20 to expand its use.

“…I made a handout with the questions for dealing with people who annoy you. See attached. I’ve given it to several people including a missionary who was in our home on Sunday night.”

“Why didn’t I think of that?” was my first reaction. What a great idea.

The questions I raised were in a narrative format and were questions I needed to ask myself when I become irritated with people.

I never thought of putting these 15 questions in a list, but Rebecca did which made the content of “When People Annoy You” so much more helpful to her and others.

Here’s the list:
  1. Why does this annoying person bother me so much?
  2. What need do I have in this situation that is not being met?
  3. Does this situation trigger something else going on inside of me? Does it remind me of something else? If so, what is it?
  4. Could it be that what is annoying me about this person is a flaw I have myself? Is it possible I’m not much different than the person who irritates me?
  5. How did they get this way?
  6. What is the payoff for this person to engage in this annoying behavior?
  7. Could their behavior be a strategy they developed years ago when they were younger—that worked for them then. But now, it’s doing just the opposite?
  8. Is this the one area where they can exert a measure of control?
  9. Is the person just self-absorbed or is he/she just lonely?
  10. How can I be more like friends of the annoying person and embrace who the person is rather than wanting to flee from them?
  11. Would setting a boundary with people like this be a good idea, or would it be just an excuse to be self-protective and distance myself?
  12. How much energy do I have available for this relationship? If I invest more fully in it, will that take me away from other relationships that are of higher priority?
  13. Should I have a heart-to-heart talk with the annoying person about what they’re doing that annoys me?
  14. Why is it hard for me to look upon people like this with compassion, like “sheep without a Shepherd” as Jesus does? How can I be more like Jesus?
  15. How can I show grace when people annoy me and cut them some slack?

Click here if you’d like to listen to the episode of You Were Made for This from which this list is drawn.

What's next?

In the future when people annoy you, consider asking yourself some of these questions. It won’t make the other person change, but it could very well make you change.

And if you do change, there’s a good chance you’ll be less annoyed.

I’m learning this works for me, and I’m sure it would work for you, too.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of this. Please leave a reply.

There's more to come next Wednesday.  But in the meantime, you can browse below through all 3 seasons and 67 episodes of You Were Made for This. Season 4 resumes September 9th.