HOW TO ACT ON PET PEEVES
CALM WORDS ARE CALLED FOR WHEN A FRIEND OR PARTNER HAS A TRAIT THAT’S BECOME IRRITATING
I’m not a fan of red onion (any onion for that matter) when it’s raw in salads or sandwiches and particularly when it’s cut in chunks or large slices. It’s not that I hate onions. I like a very small amount finely chopped in salads for a subtle flavour and more when it’s cooked in a hot dish. But sometimes there is a lot and I feel that, when it comes to raw onions, less is more – and that’s what this article is actually about.
I liken it to individual characteristics: we all have our own unique and multi-faceted personalities and some of those facets are more apparent than others at times. Occasionally, these distinctive traits can initially be endearing – a certain laugh or voice, a style of communication or behaviour, for example – but over time, if frequent, they can grate and become an irritation.
Once that happens it can be hard to ignore the irritation and it becomes a focal point and then we’re on the lookout, expecting it to happen. Like me and raw onion. Once I realised that I didn’t like it I became hyperaware of when it appeared unbidden in my dish and then went on the hunt. In other words, I had a laser-like focus … on raw onion. Yep!
What is the solution when this happens? Do we unfriend the person? Break up with raw onions?
The challenge is that the now annoying behaviour is perfectly obvious to us and probably others, but the person demonstrating it has little clue. You should understand that most of our own behaviour is unconscious to us. It’s driven by our set of intrinsic filters. In other words, we don’t recognise that we’re doing it or the impact it may be having on those around us. If the person demonstrating the irritating behaviour is someone we love and care about, we really need to bring it to their attention so that they have the opportunity to recognise and adapt it.
How am I supposed to do that without offending them, I hear you ask.
The answer lies in delivering the message with love and respect and with a focus on the impact of their behaviour on you. For example, “Darling, when you leave your dirty dish in the sink I feel frustrated because I’ve asked you several times to put it straight in the dishwasher. If you could start doing that from tomorrow it would save me some extra work. Is that OK with you?”.
Rather than get frustrated with the person, blaming them, getting fired up and not acting, emphasise that it’s their behaviour that’s causing the irritation, not them as a person.
Feedback delivered in the right way allows you to keep the emotion under control and them to recognise its impact on you. With practice it can be very effective and will not cause offence. No big scene or overreaction; less is more. Like raw onions …