"You are so annoying!"

Who has not, at one point or another, either said those words to someone else or had those words said to him or herself? I would suspect that anyone old enough to read this, has been annoyed by someone or has been guilty of annoying someone else in his or her lifetime.

It is near impossible for us humans, being the pack animals that we are, not to rub someone the wrong way at some point in our lives. There is hope that this can be minimized, even if it can't be entirely eliminated. Here are four ideas on how to minimize the chances of annoying people, and improve the relationships we have with the people around us.

1. Be mindful of other's wants and needs

It is part of human nature for an individual to often think that he or she is above the rules that other mere mortals are required to follow. For example, a person wanting to get a jump on his yard work on a particular Saturday may think, "Other people may be annoying to their neighbors when they mow their lawns at 4:30 in the morning with their very loud lawn mowers. But I'm not, because I'm special."

While it is true that we are all special, and all unique as members of the human race, it is not OK for us to create unnecessary disturbances for other people whose wants and needs are just as important as our own.

Remember the golden rule: If something someone else does is going to be annoying to us, it's a good bet that if we do the same thing it will be annoying to others.

2. Do what you say you'll do

If you make a promise, whether to your boss, neighbor, child, spouse or parent - keep it. It is that simple. Granted, something unexpected may arise that was not part of the equation at the time the promise was made. Nevertheless, do all you reasonably can to follow through on what you say you'll do.

3. Be on time

Whatever it is; a business meeting, getting a child to an activity or sports event or any other scheduled event where your presence is required, it is important to be there when you need to be there. There are few things more annoying than being late for something because the ride you depended on wasn't on time to take you there. While mistakes and miscommunication are an inevitable part of life, it is possible to minimize these problems by being aware of the needs of others who depend on you. Again, going back to the golden rule. If you don't want someone to be late, do not be late yourself.

4. Apologize

No matter how hard we try, mistakes are still made. We are going to forget or misplace things and be tactless or thoughtless during our lives. By doing so, we will annoy others. When this happens, it is important to apologize to the people we've annoyed, and do what we can to learn skills and behaviors that can help us avoid mistakes in the future.

Again, it all comes back to the golden rule. Do for others what you would like done for yourself. Or, do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself. If we keep this in mind, the times that we annoy people will decrease significantly, and our relationships will be stronger, higher-quality and more productive.

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