From slow walkers to loud eaters; what your pet hate says about you

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Hate noisy eaters? Can't abide terminal lateness? Have a deep and real loathing for slow walkers? Us Brits are famous for harbouring a long list of minor bugbears which make our blood boil (and then doing absolutely nothing to confront the situation). 

Following the overwhelming reaction to yesterday's news that an intolerance for noisy eaters may mark you out as a genius, we were intrigued to know what else rubbed you up the wrong way and, more interestingly, what that says about you. 

We took to Twitter and Facebook to discover what the most commonly held pet hates are, and the response was overwhelming. 

From bent cutlery to cracking knuckles to people who walk too loudly, the breadth of people's gripes was fascinating.

So, to get to the root of the most commonly held pet hates, we asked chartered psychologist Ros Taylor - author of a number of books on confidence and creativity - to explain what your annoyance says about you.

People who are terminally late

It can be maddening to know that certain friends or family members will never turn up when they say they will, or when everyone else has arranged to meet. It's hard not to feel like they value their time over yours, or that they straight up don't care. However Ros insists this is something you can learn to live with. She tells Stylist: "This is more of an anally-retentive one, it means you are quite militaristic. You tend to be conservative, obsessional, want everything in its place. You have a clear desk and like everything in its place and they are not in their place when you need them to be." She adds, "A relaxed person wouldn't worry, they get to know their friends - say let me come to you next time or just take a book. Embrace the fact everyone is different."

The solution: have a word with your friend or learn to deal with it

Slow walkers and people walking at the same speed as you

Ros says getting frustrated with those who meander along in your path, or who end up making you feel awkward because they're walking alongside you rather than overtaking, may say something about your own state of mind. "There is a certain London walk in particular, it is a focussed, fast walk. We walk faster than anywhere else in the country, it gets you from A to B and anyone stood in the way is stopping you," she says. "If people who you want to get past are a major stress factor, if you get walk rage with anyone doing something slowly, then you need to relax and enjoy the ride."

The solution: consider moving out of London!

Bent cutlery in restaurants

Getting bent cutlery in restaurants irked a surprising amount of you, but unfortunately it's bad news for knife-and-fork perfectionists - this bugbear does not fly with Ros, who says people irritated by this should recognise the fact it is a small detail that has very little effect on anything. "Oh get a life! The minutiae of this world. These people are detail conscious and see the mistakes in everything and they need to see the big picture. Challenge yourself to look at the big picture." Which may be preferable to looking at the small picture when the small picture contains a spoon at a right angle.

The solution: look at the bigger picture

Constant sniffers and fidgeters

You're trying to get your head round something on your screen, but you can't help notice the continual sniffs, throat-clearing and general fidgeting of your deskmate. In fact, it's like someone has stuck a megaphone on every move they make and you're considering some classic passive-aggressive sighing. Ros says if it bothers you, it's possible you are making things worse for yourself by noticing. "This is about your stress level threshold - other people aren't even noticing it. Move away from them for a while. It’s a habit or an itch and they aren’t necessarily aware of it themselves. Understanding where it comes from will help you – they may be anxious and therefore constantly moving. Cut them some slack."

The solution: understand what is causing the issue will mean you are better able to cope

People who talk constantly during films/TV

"What's he been in? Wait, where are they now? Is that the man from before? Oh look, he's losing it, see I told you he was losing it." Know someone who cannot help but provide a running film commentary, or who asks questions during crucial moments so neither of you end up knowing what's going on? Chances are, it's not a man, Ros says: "Life is divided into these two types of people and often it's a major gender difference. Men like to watch things in silence while women more often like to get a comment on it. We like to chat and comment as we go. Women and men could watch separately if it's a problem."

The solution: separate TV's or, if not an option, then make a game plan with your partner/friend and slot in regular interludes to discuss the plot so far 

Loud phone conversations in confined public spaces

You try hard to tune out, but when you're trapped next to someone on the train who just has to tell their mother about their day, it's sometimes impossible. And for some reason, it's infuriating only hearing one side of the conversation."I think this shows that you are a sensible person," says Ros. "And that the people who are doing the loud talking are being selfish. It's unacceptable behaviour. There should be a disclaimer that you're allowed to throw someone's phone out the window." She suggests quietly and pleasantly asking them to desist or take their call elsewhere, and if they become aggressive, leave it in the hands of the train company or cinema that the person is ruining the ambience of.

The solution: politely and non-agressively ask them to take their call elsewhere


While people who have loud phone conversations should have to wear signs declaring them certified obnoxious and inconsiderate human beings, unfortunately for those of us silently fuming over most of these issues, we have to report that the lesson here is to examine your own reaction to certain situations. As Ros says, 'People who generally find things irritating tend not to be relaxed, and that probably means you are stressed. Your threshold of irritation is set at a very low point compared to other people. If you're relaxed, these things usually just wash over you." So you may as well light a candle and have a bath, because that's the only thing under your control here. C'est la vie!

Ros Taylor is a chartered psychologist. Her books are available to buy here


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Stylist Team