7 non-obvious signs that people secretly find you annoying

Tina Fey by Tina Fey | January 13, 2024, 9:54 am

If you’re reading this, there’s a high probability that you’ve encountered individuals who seem to inexplicably keep their distance from you.

It could be a colleague, a neighbour, or even a long-time friend whose interactions with you have been subtly changing.

My personal awakening to this was when my usually chatty roommate started responding to my lengthy stories with monosyllabic answers.

I attempted self-reflection, clear communication, and even altering my behaviour — all in vain.

Eventually, I had to accept the reality.

Dealing with the suspicion of being annoying can be disheartening, but recognizing the signs is the first step towards improvement. Here are seven less obvious indicators I wish I’d been aware of sooner.

1) Subtle avoidance

It may seem trivial, but it’s often the first sign that something’s amiss.

People will, without realising it, subtly try to avoid those they find annoying.

This avoidance doesn’t happen overnight. It’s gradual, almost imperceptible at first. You start noticing small changes. Maybe it’s the way conversations get shorter or how invitations come less frequently.

At work, it can be colleagues who used to brainstorm with you now preferring to work alone.

Or in social settings, friends who were once enthusiastic about your ideas now seem indifferent.

These small acts of avoidance are often subconscious signals people send out. They might not even be aware they’re doing it. It’s their way of creating distance without confrontation.

For me, recognizing this pattern was crucial. It made me pause and consider how my actions could be contributing to this change and what I could do to address it.

2) Short and rushed responses

In retrospect, one of the earliest signs I overlooked was the way people responded to my conversations.

What was once met with enthusiasm and lengthy replies slowly turned into quick and monosyllabic responses. “Sure,” “Okay,” and “Fine” became the new norm.

The mistake I made was dismissing this as them merely being preoccupied or tired.

But upon closer examination, I realized it was more than that. It was a sign of their dwindling interest in engaging with me.

This might seem harsh, but it’s often a defense mechanism people use when they find someone annoying. They limit their interactions to keep the annoyance at bay.

3) Excuses over explanations

Have you experienced this? You invite someone out and they respond with “I’m too busy right now,” or “Maybe another time,” without suggesting a specific alternative date or time.

That’s a shift I noticed in the way people responded to me when they started finding me annoying. Rather than giving proper explanations, they started giving vague excuses.

In the same way, even though I’m ashamed to admit it, I do this as well to people I find irritating.

Truth is, we tend to provide excuses more than explanations when we’re trying to avoid confrontations or uncomfortable situations – like admitting we find someone’s presence annoying.

So if you find yourself dealing with excuses instead of explanations, that might be a wakeup call for you.

4) Overcompensating kindness

This might seem an odd one out, but it’s indeed a sign that people could be finding you annoying.

While you’d expect people to be distant or cold if they find you irksome, quite often, the opposite happens. They become excessively kind.

In my case, I started noticing an unusual level of politeness from a colleague whom I knew to be a relaxed type of person. I remember feeling confused because he suddenly became overly formal in our interactions. His “pleases” and “thank yous” were abundant, yet there was a distance in his tone that hadn’t been there before.

If you sense that the kindness is more about keeping peace than genuine warmth, it could be a sign. The smiles might be there, but they don’t quite reach their eyes. The compliments come, but they feel hollow. It’s like they’re reading from a script of politeness, rather than speaking from the heart.

It’s a little tricky to detect for sure, as it’s wrapped in the guise of friendliness. But on some level, you’ll feel that the kindness is forced and unnatural.

The reason for this is simple – people resort to overcompensating kindness as a way to mask their true feelings. It’s a safety net to avoid confrontations and maintain a sense of civility.

Unfortunately, this excessive politeness can feel more alienating than outright coldness. It puts up a barrier that says, “I’ll be nice, but I don’t really want to engage with you.”

5) Frequent interruptions

Another subtle sign that people might secretly find you annoying is if they frequently interrupt you during conversations.

Friends and colleagues who used to listen attentively might have begun to speak over you or cut in before you finish.

Now, it  might be that they’re simply too excited or impatient to share their experiences. So maybe look for a theme or pattern first before jumping to that conclusion.

And if the evidence is clear…well, it’s hard not to feel a bit hurt. But it’s also an opportunity for self-reflection.

Ask yourself: Are my stories too lengthy or off-topic? Recognizing these small cues can be a step towards understanding how others perceive your interactions.

6) The ‘busy’ syndrome

I’m pretty sure you’ve seen a movie or two where an entire office suddenly pretends to be neck-deep in work when a certain annoying character enters the room. Maybe you’ve even done it yourself.

I know I have, and I admit to doing it because I didn’t really want to talk to that person.

In this case, being ‘busy’ becomes an escape route. It’s quite handy, really. Unfortunately, if you’re the one on the receiving end of it, well, it doesn’t feel good.

The best way to approach it is with some self-reflection — what might you be doing that other people find annoying? How can you better communicate so that your presence doesn’t suddenly motivate them to be “busy”?

7) Lack of eye contact

Lastly, eye contact is also a significant indicator of how someone perceives you. Because it’s a fundamental part of human communication.

Someone who wants to engage with you will definitely look you in the eye. And someone who doesn’t…they’d likely have a hard time doing that.

Now, this one’s a little tricky as well. Because a lack of eye contact doesn’t automatically mean the person’s annoyed with you. Some people might simply be shy or have social anxiety.

But if that’s not the case, then the next obvious conclusion to land on is that they’re not comfortable talking to you.

Final thoughts

Understanding that you may be the cause of annoyance for others can be a tough pill to swallow. You’re not alone though; given our imperfect nature, we’ve all been the annoying person at one point or another.

The important thing is to take a step back and reflect on your own actions and how they impact those around you.

Being more likable isn’t about changing who you are; it’s about being considerate of others, listening actively, and engaging in a way that adds value to the interactions.

So embrace the feedback these signs offer. Use them as a guide to improve your social dynamics. Maybe it’s about fine-tuning the way you share stories or being more aware of giving others space to express themselves.

The journey of self-improvement isn’t always easy, but every step forward, no matter how small, is progress.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *