We all have our pet peeves. My list is nowhere near as long as it was when I was in my 20’s (Is that personal growth? Or just an example of having a peeve about long lists?). Anyway — for whatever reason, there are two that have stubbornly remained at the top of my list for all of my adult life.
>> #2 on the List: I have little-to-no patience for Stupid People. Now, if you know me at all, I am VERY sensitive and selective about the use of the word “Stupid”. I hate it when people use it interchangeably with “Ignorant”. They are not the same thing, and it’s normally an ignorant person who mixes them up. An ignorant person simply doesn’t know something. Taken a step further, the vast majority of ignorant people will eventually learn that “something”, but they remain ignorant until they do. And then there is that small percentage of ignorant people who know they are ignorant, but refuse to take the time or effort to learn that “something”. That is a choice — and we each have the freedom to decide whether it is a good choice or a bad one. Making a bad choice does not make a person stupid. But a “Stupid” person is utterly incapable of learning something. Many bigots fall into this category, but those aren’t the Stupid People I normally run into. The common Stupidity I usually encounter is from co-workers or from people who know someone from my inner-circle. Now let me make this clear >> You really have to work hard to make it onto my “Stupid Person” list. I will give you every benefit of the doubt. I will give you numerous chances to prove that you are simply displaying ignorance. But, over time, there are those that have proven to me that they are incapable of opening their mind, of seeing outside their bubble, or learning a new way of seeing a situation. So, only after you have put forth exhaustive effort to remain in your cage, then and only then will I finally place a figurative label of “Stupid” across your forehead. Then, going forward, I will likely do my best to avoid any future interaction with you. There are many other subtle points to this particular pet-peeve, but I’m sure you get the point.
>> But the Big #1 on my Pet Peeve List (mostly because of how frequently it happens) is >>> I hate being interrupted.
If I begin speaking (probably trying to answer a question you posed) and, shortly after I start talking, you begin speaking (supposedly to answer my answer), then it is glaringly obvious that you are no longer listening to me, and likely weren’t listening to more than the first 3 words that came out of my mouth. Your mind is now 100% dedicated to getting your new point across and there’s a VERY high probability that your new and amazing and insightful rant will have little or nothing to do with the point I’m still trying to make cause – wait for it – I’m still trying to make it. Notice the mouth still moving, sound still coming out, etc.
** My standard response to people who interrupt me? Well, the first couple of times, I’ll stop talking, I’ll let The Interrupter finish, and then I’ll try to point out that their forceful rebuttal had nothing to do with what I had begun to say. But of course, the normal response is to interrupt that sentence as well with a revised point. Eventually, when reason and patience have been exhausted, I will simply continue to talk when the person interrupts me. However, this usually prompts the rude Interrupter to talk louder (cause they’re still clueless that they’ve interrupted you and are now actively trying to talk over you). So, I talk a little louder than them. Then they get louder, then it’s my turn, and… Well, you get the idea. Somewhere in there, I will eventually say something like, “Can I please finish my sentence?” This normally causes a look of hurt and offense on the face of The Interrupter. Even though they are the one who originally did something offensive (and yes, talking over someone is very offensive, not to mention doing it repeatedly), now it’s all about them. The Interrupter will now, depending on their level of comfort with you, express their feelings of offense and do their best to make you feel guilty for bringing their Interrupter-Behavior to their attention.
Now, inexplicably, I am often made to feel guilty for bringing the offensive Interrupter behavior to the attention of the Interrupter.
With Pet Peeve #2 (Stupid People), I’ve developed a nearly full-proof way of dealing with them. I internally categorize them as Non-Communicative and I simply avoid communicating with them. Problem solved (most of the time).
But with Pet Peeve #1 (The Interrupter), these people surround us and are constantly exerting an enormous amount of effort to ensure that they cannot simply be ignored. Also, many of these people live on the border of being Stupid. Even when it is repeatedly brought to their attention that they are Interrupters, you can see an internal justification process going on behind their eyes. They are running through all of the reasons why their behavior is “not that bad” or “a simple slip” or many other perfectly reasonable scenarios where they come out as the wronged person, and not as the Interrupter.
So now, depending on your capacity for stubbornness (or cluelessness), you now risk being classified as two of my worst pet peeves > A Stupid Interrupter.
To be fair, my response to Interrupters has long been my biggest struggle. I went from being run-over by them (because they are normally Alpha personalities), to actively challenging them (interrupt for interrupt), to – at times – dismissing them as Stupid a bit too hastily.
Now, I am very aware that the bulk of this post has been quite a downer. I normally try to end my posts on a positive note, on a humorous note, or – if I’m firing on all pistons – a bit of both. So, with that in mind…
I’ve learned (or re-learned) recently that – often – the answers to life’s biggest issues are actually quite simple. And, in the case of my Top-2 Pet Peeves, the problem has really been >> me.
For example: What is the big deal if someone interrupts you? What’s the worst that can happen if you let them continue interrupting you? The answer? Lack of clear communication. That’s it. They won’t understand your point because they’re not listening, and in the end, the conversation will come to an end.
So why does this bother me so much? Why does it grate at my nerves like fingers on a chalkboard?
Because I let it.
I recently had a conversation with a very nice person, but he is – at times – an Interrupter. It doesn’t make him a bad person. It doesn’t make him any less intelligent or less kind or less caring. He just has some bad habits that serve to stilt communication. When we went through the normal process of talk, interrupt, talk, interrupt, talk louder, interrupt louder, and so on, he took a moment to share his perception that I seem to be getting unjustly angry, loud, and impatient. Talk about an epiphany!! Because I respect this man so much, his words had an immediate and long-lasting impact. He was expressing that he was seeing me in a way that I didn’t want to be seen.
I have long been cautiously proud of my ability to remain calm in volatile situations; for holding my temper when others have lost theirs; and for maintaining a calm voice when others were screaming to ensure they were being heard. But my #1 pet peeve had effectively usurped years of hard work in a very short period of time, making me someone (at that moment) who was not worthy of respect.
One of my favorite old sayings is, “The only person you can control is your Self”. I had forgotten that wisdom when it came to dealing with Interrupters. There was the answer to my pet peeve – right in front of my eyes all along – but I had been too stubborn to see it. I was being ignorant…almost to the point of being Stupid.
So I am officially removing these two “actions” from my Pet Peeve list. They were on the list because, for decades, they had controlled me. They no longer have that power. My reactions to them are within my control. Now, I simply need to own that control and put it into practice.
My oldest pet peeves have now become my newest and most exciting personal challenges.
Now…if I could only figure out how to deal with people who are perpetually late. Ah well. One mountain at a time.