Well, it’s official. Science believes that we are split into two camps. The people who annoy us constantly, and everyone else.
As we hurtle through our lives, we know one thing for certain: some people choose to make the simple difficult. The easy, hard. We all know at least one. We know that individual that annoys the absolute piss out of everyone for no particular reason. Sadly, this condition has been legitimised by the world of science, as those who send you over the edge now possess a label to huddle under.
Psychologists call it “affective presence”. The Atlantic recently investigated the topic, presumably because someone on their staff is one of those people. Disappointingly, there are two implementations of AP. Either you’re cool, or you’re the absolute worst.
“A small body of psychology research supports the idea that the way a person tends to make others feel is a consistent and measurable part of his personality. Researchers call it ‘affective presence,'” reports Julie Beck in the piece.
It breaks down like this. Some people walk into a room, and everyone relaxes. Those who represent the opposite, instantly take a torch to every bridge. So far, we’re not entirely sure why. It’s more than their personalities, it’s the vibe of their personalities.
“Exactly what people are doing that sets others at ease or puts them off hasn’t yet been studied. It may have to do with body language, or tone of voice, or being a good listener,” writes Beck, but what is known is that it isn’t just a function of emotions being contagious.
However, it’s nary a mood thing. Those who possess negative AP don’t just annoy others when they’re annoyed. It’s a lifestyle. They could save your life but still annoy you.
“To use common, everyday words, some people are just annoying. It doesn’t mean they’re annoyed all the time. They may be content because they’re always getting their way. Some people bring out great things in others while they’re themselves quite depressed,” business school professor Hillary Anger Elfenbein, who has studied the subject, explains to Beck.
“Hector Madrid, an organisational-behavior professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile… and his collaborators have found that leaders who make other people feel good by their very presence have teams that are better at sharing information, which leads to more innovation. Subordinates are more likely to voice their ideas, too, to a leader with positive affective presence,” notes Beck.
So, in the final analysis, some people are just jerks. Those who make things difficult for no reason. We’re through the looking glass, and thusly everything is upside down. Until further research arrives, the only thing we can rely on is self-diagnosis. As someone once wrote, if everyone around you is an arsehole, then you’re the arsehole.
Stay vigilant, dimwit.