Why You Assume You’re Annoying Everyone

How to worry less about what people think of you

Kathleen Smith
Forge
Published in
3 min readDec 1, 2021

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Source: Canva

Humans spend a great deal of energy trying not to annoy each other. Maybe you don’t ask the boss an important question when she’s grumpy. Or you wait to text a date back so you don’t seem desperate.

And yes, we’ve all deleted those extra exclamation marks from an email lest we terrify people with our zeal.

Detecting distress in others is our evolutionary heritage. If our ancestors upset people, they might be cast out of the social group, which jeopardized their ability to survive. While the stakes might not be as high in modern times, our brains and bodies still sound the alarm if someone may not like us.

As individuals we vary in how “other-focused” we are. The more sensitive you are to the emotional reactivity of others, the more you may assume you are the cause of this disturbance. Maybe you know your mother is frowning by the sound of her voice, or you start sweating when a colleague is even slightly peeved in a meeting.

People who worry a lot about annoying others tend to do two things: they avoid, and they overfunction for others.

Avoiding could look like:

  • Not inviting friends to do things.
  • Not initiating…

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Kathleen Smith
Forge
Writer for

Kathleen Smith is a therapist and author of the book Everything Isn’t Terrible: Conquer Your Insecurities, Interrupt Your Anxiety, and Finally Calm Down.