There simply isn't one human habit that is the worst or most annoying of all. Habits some perceive as good, others see as bad. A repetitive behavior may be maddening to one person and go completely unnoticed by another. There may be some truth in the notion that choosing the right mate is finding someone whose habits bother you less than anyone else's. One thing is for sure--we all have them eventually.
All habits are not created equally. Obviously, a habit of abusing alcohol, abusing people, excessive gambling, or a habit of getting further in debt is on a different level than leaving the lid off the toothpaste or leaving the lid up on the commode. We’ll examine what most would consider as trivial habits, for the sake of keeping it simple and hopefully more light-hearted and enlightening.
Some people are by nature, hyper-sensitive to sounds, particularly oral sounds made by others, which they'd call noise. Misophonia is a recently recognized condition of aversion to sounds of others. These bothersome noises include but are not limited to eating noisily, making smacking, slurping sounds); chewing and/or cracking, popping gum; crunching/chomping ice; and slurping soup. The degree to which someone is bothered can range from mild agitation to full-blown rage. Needless to say, these people have probably had quite a few first-and-last dates.
In very generalized terms, being interrupted is one habit likely most annoying to men. Women and men tend to communicate quite differently. Men typically pause more in conversation, perhaps searching for just the right word(s). In these cases women feel the need to fill or bridge what they perceive as awkward silence. This is done with little to no realization, rather it’s an innate reaction to “help” men find the words and to affirm that they understand what they are trying to say. In response, usually one of these two negative reactions occur. Men either feel insulted or undervalued because of the habitual interruptions and are turned off entirely, or they recognize this as an unnoticed “female communication thing," so not wanting to hurt feelings, they keep silent and frustration is left to build. Interrupting anyone in conversation is probably one of the most inconsiderate habits. Sometimes we're just overcome when we realize we’ve had a similar experience or when we’re reminded of something, and we let it fly. The best thing to do in such a case is to recognize the interruption, apologize, and insist the other person please continue. If you’re just waiting for someone to take a breath so you can speak again, you may not be speaking to him/her much longer.
Another relative habit to interrupting is dominating the conversation, particularly when the topic is you. Naturally, we're comfortable talking about what we know best. With an interested audience or one that feigns to be, we can feed on that as an affirmation to continue. It’s fine to share about yourself, your work, family, friends, just remember to also share the conversation. Others feel appreciated when asked about themselves. It tells them you are interested. Being a better listener is a great goal for someone who tends to do most of the talking.
Something we’ve all probably done and many people do without much thought is to abuse the word “but.” “I’m sorry to interrupt, but…” or “I don’t mean to brag, but…” We desperately need to stop ourselves before qualifying the statement with this conjunction. When we say “but” after a phrase such as these, we’re saying, “I’m going to anyway.” Essentially we're giving ourselves permission to interrupt or to brag. In the first phrase simply omitting “but” solves the problem. The latter can also be made acceptable by the omission, although we may be able to consider a more humble way of sharing something personally exceptional. Bragging about oneself is an annoying habit all its own.
It seems like the word “like” started being overused in the early 1980s when the “Valley Girl” trend swept the nation. Most of the trendy phrases from that era faded, but “like” has hung in there like a bad hair in a biscuit. Now all those kids of the 80s are adults in their 40s and 50s, making “like” abuse multi-generational. “I was like”; “She was like”; “The whole place was like." A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if the word serves a true function. If it doesn’t, don’t use it.
Annoying habits are often deal-breakers in relationships. Some are more easily stopped than others. For example, I suppose snoring is considered a habit, but since it’s involuntary, maybe it's more easily excused. Everyone has something that annoys somebody at some time, so maybe we owe it to ourselves and others to break the habits of which we are at least aware!