By: Alan Fairweather

Do you have any pet peeves that annoy you about other people?

When I'm running a Managing Difficult People seminar, I ask the participants to make a list of pet peeves that they have about other people, either in their business or personal life.

Some of the participants are reluctant to admit their pet peeves. They believe they shouldn't have any, or they're too embarrassed to admit to them. With a bit of encouragement from me, and some of the more outspoken members of the group, we eventually end up with a huge list on the flip chart.

People will talk about things that irritate them about other people, and drive them crazy. Things they disapprove of, find embarrassing, or just don't like. Here are some of the pet peeves I've heard from seminar participants:

- Speaking with your mouth full
- Bad breath
- Body odour
- Not saying please or thank you
- General bad manners
- Answering a mobile phone in the middle of a conversation
- Squeezing the toothpaste from the wrong end
- Putting a toilet roll on the holder the wrong way around
- Untidiness
- Bad timekeeping
- Smoking
- Obesity
- Drunkenness
- Not looking you in the eye
- Slurping food or drink
- Not listening
- Loud music
- Loud people

As you will see, the list goes on and on.

Once we have all these pet peeves on our flip chart, I then ask the group to vote on each one. In a group of, let's say, 20 people; 12 people might say 'speaking with your mouth full' is a pet peeve for them. Another 6 people might say 'untidiness' is a peeve for them.

What comes out of this, as you will see, is that not all of us have the same pet peeves. If you consistently arrive late, this can drive some people crazy, while others don't really care if you're late or not.

You develop these pet peeves based on how you were brought up; how you were programmed. You probably learned them from your parents and all the other people you grew up with.

When I was a child, I was never allowed to waste food. I had to eat everything that was on my plate before I could leave the table. This programming is so strong, that as an adult I admit to being a bit peeved by people who pick at their food and leave lots on the plate without eating it.

When we interact with other people it is highly possible that we allow our pet peeves to influence that interaction.

I was running a seminar for some bank employees and several of them stated the same pet peeve. They hate when a customer answers their mobile phone in the middle of a transaction or a conversation. Because the bank employee finds this behaviour annoying, it could potentially affect how he or she deals with the customer.

The staff member's annoyance, albeit slight, may be transmitted to a customer by tone of voice or body language. It is then possible that the customer may become difficult. Any customer's behaviour, which is a pet peeve for you, may hook you into negative behaviour, and that will potentially cause problems.

The other aspect of this is; we all have pet peeves, however, what may be a pet peeve for you may not be for the other person. You may think that being a bit late with your report is not such a big deal; but the other person does, and that, potentially, causes them to be difficult.

Some food for thought!

About the Aurthor:
Alan Fairweather, 'The Motivation Doctor,' is an International Business Speaker, Best Selling Author and Sales Growth Expert. For the past sixteen years, he's been turning 'adequate' managers, sales and customer service people into consistent top performers. He is the author of two books: 'How to be a Motivational Manager' A down-to-earth guide for managers and team leaders. 'How to Manage Difficult People' Proven strategies for dealing with challenging behaviour at work. To receive your free newsletter and free eBooks, visit: