How to Deal With Annoying Relatives

Five Methods:Preventing Getting AnnoyedTalking and Relating to Annoying RelativesAccepting Your Annoying RelativeVisiting Annoying RelativesBeing Visited By Annoying Relatives

Annoying relatives are a certainty in life, though they can be annoying in different ways.[1] Dealing with annoying relatives means first understanding that you don't have to believe them, react to them, or agree with them at all, though chances are you'll be frustrated and annoyed a lot.[2][3] Either way, at certain times you'll have to be in contact with them to different degrees, and there are several methods for how to deal. [4] Try them all until you find a combination that works!

Method 1
Preventing Getting Annoyed

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    Avoid being around your annoying relatives.[5] If there are some relatives you know will always annoy you, try to avoid seeing them or being around them if possible.
    • If you cannot avoid them entirely, just try to spend as little time as possible with them.[6]
    • If you have to spend time with them, speak with them as little as possible.
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    Ignore your annoying relatives. If you have to be around your super-annoying relatives, try ignoring them when they say something to you, when they do something annoying, or just walk away.[7]
    • Ignoring annoying behaviors (and there are many) is a good way to rise above the crowd and not to engage, even if they are annoying you.[8][9]
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    Do something solitary. Solitary activities can build a wall of insulation around you when you are in a place where there are annoying relatives.
    • Go into the kitchen, or a bedroom, just to get away.[10]
    • Wear headphones.[11] Wearing headphones shows the people around you that you are not interested in talking, and that you're really interested in your music, podcast, or whatever.[12]
    • Read a book. Generally, even annoying people will not interrupt you when you are reading. If they do, just reply, "I'm reading something for work/school/ that's important."
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    Get a social buffer. A buffer can be a person who knows how to handle the annoying relatives, like a mom, dad, sibling or friend, who can deal so that you don't have to.[13]
    • Social buffers should be made aware of their role ahead of time. Don't just bring one and expect them to do all the work while you hide out.[14]
    • Social buffering should be reciprocated! [15]

Method 2
Talking and Relating to Annoying Relatives

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    If you do speak, wait before you reply. Take a deep breath and wait before speaking.[16]
    • Sometimes the person will move onto another topic without skipping a beat, saving you the trouble.
    • Giving yourself a moment allows you to think before you speak prevents you from overreacting or saying something you might later regret.[17]
    • Have some responses worked out ahead of time to the annoying questions you know you'll be asked.
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    Repeat the annoying thing they said. [18] Repeating what someone says to you is the best way to let them know they were heard.
    • Listening is a skill, and repeating what they say can show them not only what they said, but how it feels to hear those words.[19]
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    Change the subject. If your relative is being super annoying, try changing the subject or ask them a question, out of the blue.
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    When you speak, be respectful, genuine, and diplomatic. When you do decide to speak, answer respectfully and only to the detail you wish.[20] When they ask you questions, try to answer authentically if and when you can.[21]
    • Learn to listen better. Listening isn't just waiting until another person is finished talking.[22]
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    Avoid trigger topics, yours and theirs.[23] Maybe you know that your cherished political beliefs differ from your relatives', or that your body piercings and blue hair make your grandparents cringe. When you can, temper your perspectives and if possible, your appearance, just to keep the peace.
    • Try to avoid sensitive or provocative topics; instead, suggest useful alternatives.
    • If they say something to you, good or bad, just say thank you and move on.[24]
    • Don't argue with them all the time. Arguing with another person is what creates conflict.
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    Choose your battles wisely. Not every strange, awful, rude or ignorant thing they say needs to be corrected.[25]
    • If they say something mean or odd about someone you care about or love, you will probably want to stand up to them, so prepare some answers and comments ahead of time.
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    If you need a break, take one. Needing a break from a person is not a flaw, and you can duck out of the conversation if you need to by excusing yourself and then returning when you have had a chance to collect yourself.[26]
    • If you need another break, take it! Repeat as necessary. Maybe you're trying out having a conversation where before you would have avoided it, or ignored it.
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    Know your limits, and defend your boundaries. Knowing what will trigger your impatience, anger, or sense of annoyance in advance is the first-step to taking control of your well-being.[27]
    • If you can, ask the person to not discuss that topic/issue, or let them know you haven't forgotten their question and will answer when you can.
    • If they press you, say nothing and change the topic.
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    Let it go, and walk away. If none of the techniques above work, just let go of the conversation and walk away.
    • Not replying is still a reply, one saying "This is too unpleasant a topic to deal with."
    • Walking away shows you respect yourself and that you can "live and let live." Move on!

Method 3
Accepting Your Annoying Relative

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    Accept that the person annoys you. Accepting an annoying relative is not always easy, but there are things you can do to make it happen.[28]
    • Spend short amounts of time just with them alone. This might seem to be exactly the opposite thing you want to do, but your undivided attention, even in small amounts, can go a long way to diffusing annoying behavior.[29]
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    Don't change them, love them. It might seem counter intuitive, but being loving can often stop the annoyances before they occur. And, it will certainly changes your perspective.[30]
    • It’s not your purpose in life to change them, because you cannot succeed and you will waste your energy.
    • Do incorporate love and acceptance into everything you say and do.[31]
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    Accept yourself. Accept, rather than deny, that you have a hard time dealing with annoying people, and that some of these people are in your family.[32][33]
    • When you get irritated and annoyed, don't blame them. You're the one who cannot deal with it, and acknowledging this the first step towards taking responsibility.[34]
    • Focus on what you can do better to be the person you want to be, no matter who you are around, or what they do or say. You'll always come out ahead if you focus on yourself.[35]
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    Be compassionate. Being compassionate towards yourself, and to those around you, can go a long way towards diffusing the annoyance.[36]
    • Compassion is active, not passive, and is something you develop over time.[37]
    • You will fail at being compassionate from time to time, but with annoying relatives, you will always get a new chance to practice compassion!

Method 4
Visiting Annoying Relatives

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    Plan a short stay.[38] If you visiting or staying with relatives who annoy you, plan to stay only for a short time, whether it's for dinner, or the weekend.[39]
    • If asked for dinner, set aside two to three hours maximum. One and a half hours for lunch is sufficient.[40]
    • If asked for a visit on the weekend, set aside three hours maximum, and try to plan an actual activity, so that you have something to do together.[41]
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    Stay calm. Getting worked up ahead of time can ruin any chance you have of successfully making it through the visit without becoming upset or agitated, and it can ruin your chances at making good choices because of stress.[42]
    • A little stress can help you be more aware, but too much will wreck you. Being able to calm yourself will help you respond appropriately, and you might even surprise yourself.[43]
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    Be a good guest. Being a good guest means respecting your hosts’ hours and habits, and following the rules of the house, and even to a degree offsetting the cost of your visit in thoughtful ways.[44]
    • Discuss your plans and free time, so that you know ahead of time what you will need to schedule, rent, and so on.[45]
    • Don’t take over public spaces, spread out everywhere, or take over the bathroom or kitchen.
    • Don’t talk on the phone loudly or listen to music in public spaces. Go outside or into a bedroom, or use your headphones.
    • Do clean up after yourself in the bathroom and in the kitchen. If you can, offer to clean up after others too, including putting away dishes, taking out the trash, etc.[46]
    • Do offer to run errands, pick up groceries, or take-out, to keep things running smoothly and to replace what you consume.[47]
    • Leave them with a nice hosting gift, and definitely hand write a thank you note after your departure.[48]

Method 5
Being Visited By Annoying Relatives

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    Take time off when they arrive. Try to take off a little time in order to show your relatives that they matter.[49]
    • It will help you be less stressed if you don't have to juggle work when they arrive, even if you do have to work during the visit.
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    Welcome them properly. Welcoming people into your home or city can involve an array of things, but almost always including washing and/or eating. [50]
    • If they are staying at your home, ask them whether they would like to wash up or eat first, and then make that happen.
    • Discuss your plans for the visit after they’ve been fed and/or showered, and shown to their room or hotel.
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    Plan and personalize where they will stay. Putting a little thought and effort into making your annoying relatives’ sleeping area cozy and inviting for them will disarm them, in a good way.[51]
    • Sometimes you will be lucky enough to have a spare bedroom, but even at a hotel you can stop by and bring them some water and snacks, a bottle of wine and a wine opener, or some nice magazines that they would find interesting.
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    Plan a few meals and activities. Planning a few meals and few activities can help structure the time.
    • Don't feel compelled to produce elaborate dinners to impress your family, but if you like cooking and it makes you happy, do it.
    • Downtime is just as important, so don't forget to include that.
    • Plan meals or dining out alternatives that will fit everyone's checkbook.


  • If possible, deal with the annoyance quickly and early on, so that you don't build up resentment and distaste for the person. Hopefully, the situation will resolve as soon as you address it, and you can move on quickly.


  • Engaging directly with annoying relatives in front of others can create hard feelings and embarrassment, so if you feel it is necessary to confront them, do it in private.
  • Confrontations can lead to escalated emotional states and create distinct "parties" in a family (think soap opera dramas) that can linger for years and years, so consider carefully if you should confront someone or not.

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Categories: Family Life