What to Do When You're Annoyed - Try Something Different
Why do we get annoyed?
What's the point of it?
I think one of the main reasons we get annoyed is because we are dreading a specific situation.
We know it's coming, and we don't want to experience it.
This has been happening to me over the last few months.
But, yesterday, I finally did something different.
The Man On the Street
There is a man who hawks his wares on the streets of the downtown near where I live. Almost every time I'm downtown, he's there.
He usually sells one of two things: earrings or cashmere scarves. He puts them on a fold-out table in the middle of the sidewalk, usually in the same place. It's near a coffee shop that I frequent, so I often pass him when I'm heading there.
When he first wanted me to buy the stuff, I wasn't too bothered.
"No thank you," I replied, even though he was quite pushy about it.
"Oh come on! Something for your wife? Something for a friend?"
"No, thank you. I'm not going to buy anything."
But around the 10th or 11th time this happened--and after the entreaties became more aggressive--I started to get annoyed. I started to dread seeing this man.
So yesterday, I made a different choice.
A Conversation With the Man
I stopped to talk with him.
"Do you sell very many of these?" I asked him.
"No, not really. Not many. It's been pretty slow."
"OK, well do you market them anywhere, or it just here?"
"No, just here. Just on the street. Usually it's better in the summer, with the tourists."
I genuinely wanted to help him think about better strategies than standing on the street with no signage to describe his business or who he is.
"Well maybe you want one of these?" He pointed to some earrings. "These are nice!"
"No, I'm not going to buy any, but I wanted to stop to talk."
"Maybe these? These are nice. I get these scarves imported. They are real cashmere."
"Well, which one do you think is the nicest?"
"I guess that bright red one at the end."
"Well, OK. Thank you. That helps. Have a nice day."
The man ended the conversation with ME. That had never happened before.
And even though he still asked me the same questions he had asked countless times before, this felt different. It felt like progress.
I wished him well, and I walked away. And I didn't feel as annoyed. I approached it a different way. I approached with a desire to learn what was going on for him.
The man showed some vulnerability. I got to hear what he sounded like in a normal conversation. I picked up on more of his accent. His emotions and story started to come through. He was no longer just that annoying guy on the street. He became something else to me.
A human being.