6 Great Ways to Neutralize Annoying People

Are there people at work or in your personal life that goad and annoy you? They provoke you whether they intend to or not.

You can neutralize the personal invader, the busybody, the micro-manager, the patronizer, the idea embezzler, and those who presume.

Add these 6 great ways to your people skills (soft skills) toolkit and neutralize the effect they have on you.

Used consistently instead of emotional responses, neutral responses become your virtual do not disturb signs that don’t insult or block future communication.

Best Neutral Responses to Keep Cool

6 Great Ways

  1. To very personal questions:
    Silence and look of surprise.
  2. To the busybody:
    “Aren’t you full of questions!”
  3. To the micro-manager:
    “I’m capable.”
  4. To presumptuous remarks or quips:
    “There’s an odd remark.”
  5. To patronizers:
    “You must have little ones at home. I can tell.”
  6. To those who state your ideas as theirs:
    “I’m glad you agree.”

Neutral responses keep your cool while giving others time to realize what they have said or done to you.

To get comfortable using neutral responses, consider that:

  1. Detouring to their emotional agenda is not valuable to you, your life, or your work.
  2. It’s not rude to hold your own.
  3. Inner peace is a gift you give yourself.

Neutral responses show inner strength and inner strength is its own billboard.

From my experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

What responses have worked well for you in emotional moments? I hope you will share your story and voice in the comments section below.

©2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, delivers workshops, keynotes, and consultations that turn interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. Leaders have been booking Kate for 21 years to turn people-skills extremes into business success. See this site for customer results and book Kate now.

12 Responses to “6 Great Ways to Neutralize Annoying People”

  1. Tad Jackson says:

    Great information, Kate, as always … and a “Why do you ask?” is always a showstopper with certain too-inquisitive folks. But then, dealing with the sideways questions and alien actions of a young person or an adult with narcissistic personality disorder requires a whole new arsenal. They’ll test every notion you have about normal, common sense, and decent human interaction!


  2. Oh, Kate, this is great! I especially like your response for patronizers.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thanks Julie. I had strong motivation over the years to learn to deal with these types — especially the patronizers! Appreciate your support on this one. 🙂

  3. Nate Whitson says:

    Echo to what Julie said in regards to patronizers, that is awesome.

    This advice seems especially relevant to students involved in summer internships. A lot of forced relationships and maybe a little micro managing as well!


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Great expansion of this focus on interns Nate. It’s tough going in and having to suddenly learn, collaborate, and establish your credibility. Thanks for the insight.

  4. Kate says:

    Oh Kate; thank you for those empowering messages! Seems that demonstrating one’s inner strength and expressing limits gets overtaken by the emphasis to “collaborate” which gives some folks free license to just say anything without acknowledging or being held accountable to the impact/consequences of the statements. I will start using these today….as the opportunity presents itself (which it will many times over)!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Kate,
      You so simply and clearly got to the underlying pressure many feel to endure intrusive and inappropriate comments — “Will someone say I am not a team player?” This is exactly why I wrote this post. You can set limits without blocking future collaboration.

      I am so pleased you contributed to this blog and gratified that my thoughts will help you.

      Best wishes,

  5. stephen q shannon says:

    Kate, As a senior manager seeking not to entirely isolate me from the madding crowd, here’s how I replied to, “Do you know who is sleeping with whom?”
    Not very neutrally, I said (with an authentic smile), “Why are you telling me this?” Often the gossip is rendered silent….music to my ears!

    As we guide applicants in an interview, “It’s not entirely what you say;
    it’s how you say it.” Whatever “it” is. Any reply might work better if it has the aura of “studied informality” as my ex-boss, Jim Conley, often mused.
    sQs Delray Beach FL

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Love it Stephen — “Why are you telling me this? — once again gives the speaker time to think about what they are doing and neutralizes the effect on you. Thanks for sharing it!

  6. Leslie Friedrich says:

    It would be think about “projection” rather than classifying other people as annoying. Of course there are things such as bad breath, body odor, etc that need to be addressed tactfully. However, if another person is “annoying” to me, I first have to check if I am projecting some of my own thoughts or opinions onto them. You can set boundaries and limits, but really, the only behavior you can control is your own behavior. From Wikipedia: Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person unconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people. Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others originate those feelings.[1]

    Projection reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the unwanted unconscious impulses or desires without letting the conscious mind recognize them.

    An example of this behavior might be blaming another for self failure. The mind may avoid the discomfort of consciously admitting personal faults by keeping those feelings unconscious, and by redirecting libidinal satisfaction by attaching, or “projecting,” those same faults onto another person or object.

  7. Skip Bieber says:

    I’m with Stephen, I often use “Why are you telling me this?” along with my standard line (usually said with a smile) “I’m wasn’t hired for my good looks”


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