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Misunderstood: Part 2, What's Your Greatest Pet Peeve?

In part one of this peevey post I shared the 10 most common pet peeves and the two common reasons we get peeved. If you didn't catch part one, read it here.

If you're not interested in why you get peeved, and have a strong pelvic floor game, read my last post here which may or may not have made a few people wet their pants.

In part one I shared about The Fundamental Attribution Error so now you're probably sounding like a genius at parties. (Or maybe not getting invited to the next one.)

Tick tock... let's get on with this, shall we?

Expecting people to behave like us is the second common reason people's pet peeves are triggered. As I mentioned, we tend to have a preference for our own strengths, values, abilities, and traits, and see the world through the lens of our own experiences.

I mean, the babies in our family are always the cutest, right? I remember when I had my first kid. I was like, "Wow, I wonder how the photographer is going to react when they realize they're taking the picture of the cutest baby they've ever seen? I still have the photos and I have to say....Not that cute.

Don't worry, my kid got super cute, eventually (the cutest, probably). He was just in that phase. You know, when babies are wrinkly with big floppy heads and you need hindsight to realize they are, well, a bit ugly.

Back to why we get peeved.

We Prefer Our Way of Doing Things

If you don't believe me, type a question on Facebook (or Threads if you've joined the cool vibe going on there) and ask people their opinion about anything. People won't answer with opinions, though.

"Being on time means getting there five minutes early. Anything else is late!"

"Anything else is late" is stated as a fact. Because to that person it is a fact. Only it isn't a fact. It's an opinion.

Have you ever been to a Venezuelan party?

I was invited to a baby shower about five years ago. The invitation said it started at noon. I got there at noon and NO GUESTS WERE THERE. I looked like a total weirdo standing there awkwardly holding a gift - meant for my imaginary friend, probably. But I got there exactly when the invitation told me to! I was a virgin party goer to this crowd. Did I learn my lesson? No.

The same crowd invited me to a birthday party a year later. I showed up 15 minutes after I was told to arrive. (Ha, I'll show you I'm not socially awkward and a complete ignoramus re: party etiquette.) Again, no one was there.

Here's a tip for you - since it took me until baby shower kid's fourth birthday to get it - if you're invited to a party with Latin people, show up an hour after the invite tells you to and you'll fit right in. If you're a five-minute-early-rule person, you might want to unpucker a bit. It'll be worth it because Venezuelans know how to party.

The reality is, so many of our peeves are preferences. But even in situations where they're a spoken, or unspoken, rule, understanding people can help us not feel too worked up when others don't live their lives according to our rules.

Sure, it's irritating when the sign says don't do this one thing, and a person does the one thing they're being told not to do. It's also possible the person can't read that language, can't read at all, or didn't see it because they're naturally inobservant as hell. As a side bar, I love when I say, "Where's my phone!?" out loud only to notice it's in my hand. (Is Kristin losing her mind or has she just had too many margaritas?)

Have you seen those job descriptions where they ask for a visionary creative who is also detail-oriented and loves paperwork? A lot of strengths and personality traits are mutually exclusive. What I mean is, when one thing is present, the other is often absent.

It's rare for people to be both:

  • task-oriented and people-oriented

  • big-picture thinkers and detail-oriented

  • creative and structured

  • flexible and disciplined

  • independent and collaborative

  • rule-followers and innovators

These rare blends do exist in people, of course, but they're are not the majority. My point is we often get annoyed by people who have traits opposite from our own. It's worth remembering we're sometimes incapable of doing what the other person does naturally, every bit as they're incapable of doing what we do naturally.

There is value in opposing traits, and everyone's best qualities come with pitfalls.

The person who proudly shares they're always on time and organized might ruin a family vacation with anxiety, stress, or impatience. Just as the person who is late and disorganized can make others feel unvalued when showing up later than agreed.

Everyone must be authentically who they are. The answer isn't to tell people, "You're too uptight" or "You're too undisciplined."

Asking someone to be a different person is like asking them to hold their breath for 10 minutes. What we can do, however, is explain how a behavior is impacting us and that we are asking the person in our life to make an effort to modify their behavior, not modify who they are.

If it's a stranger, we can also choose not to let them ruin our day because they've parked their butt in front of the "Do not sit on this ledge" sign. Maybe they have early dementia and are disoriented.

Or it could also be too many margaritas.

What are your thoughts? Share in the comments!


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