Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 33, Tuesday, January 20, 2004








IMAGINE yourself out with someone who is smart, funny, a great conversationalist, and not too bad in the looks department. You're thinking this person could be The One…

Then the meal starts, and your date keeps scraping the utensils against the plate, making your hair stand on end. Halfway through the meal, all that lip-smacking, the loud gulps and other unearthly gastronomical noises have made you wonder just <>what it was that you ever liked about the person.

Does that scenario seem far-fetched? It happens more often than we realise. Certain personal habits, trifling little details that we wouldn't really bother thinking about, can actually get in the way of relationships, romantic, professional or otherwise. They can grate on nerves, and bring in a factor of annoyance into day-to-day interactions that could really make it hard to live or work with people who have these habits. So just what are these minute but important quirks of nature? Let's take a closer look:

Snoring: In Western societies, snoring can even lead to divorce! People over here might be a little more tolerant, but if you have to spend night after night tossing and turning, and trying to shut out that lawn-mower impersonator lying next to you, you would definitely sympathise. I know someone who snores so loudly, his bed vibrates, and people in the next room aren't able to sleep unless they close the windows. No matter how nice the person is, there are many medical reasons as to why people snore. Sometimes, it is an indication of ill-health. So while your snoring might be just a source of annoyance for anyone who shares a room with you, for you, it could be your body's way of telling you that there's something wrong. So the next time someone complains about your snoring, booking an appointment with a doctor, preferably a sleep specialist would not be such a bad idea.

Jiggly legs: This is a habit that usually arises during schooldays, sometimes developing due to extreme stress or nervousness. In an effort to give vent to pent-up excitement, one vigorously shakes one's leg up and down, or back and forth. The direction of vibration differs from person to person, and isn't really a factor. A sign of restlessness, it also induces a sense of unease amongst people around the leg-shaker. Think about a person bashing against a table continuously that you're trying to write on. I don't know about you guys out there but I'd definitely silence the sound with one loud thump. It's not a lot of fun when you're sitting to someone who's busy emulating a cyclist.

Bad table manners: Scraping the plates with the utensils, slurping, gulping, or talking with a full mouth…these things are considered rude for a reason; they are very off-putting. If you are 'lucky enough' you may come across the one who picks up the food from the table and gobbles it up all in one motion, not to mention the one who eats with making most of the awkward sounds one may imagine! Think about the one who chews with his mouth open and imagine the biology lessons on mastication that you once used to get! Whatever the horrible distinct table manner may be, TRY to get rid of it, both for yourself and the people near you! Don't forget to abandon the typical Bangla habits of drinking tea in saucers instead of the cups, and the infamous trying-to-get-the-meat-out-of-teeth routine after a meal. Who would want to share a meal with someone who announces his indigestion problems on a regular basis? In the first place, a person is often at his worst when he is eating, so being able to carry out this basic act gracefully is literally an art, but an essential one.

Scratching oneself in public: Remember that very old dandruff-shampoo ad? The one where this one dandruff-infested young man goes around scratching his head, and everyone keeps asking him, "Shahed, khushki?" In the real world, people aren't that tolerant. Face it, there is nothing more off-putting than watching someone merrily scratching himself. Life isn't a prickly-heat powder commercial. Imagine having to shake hands with someone right after you've watched him scratch his armpits. Doesn't sound very pleasant, does it? So the next time you find yourself reaching to claw that itch, remember that other people might not enjoy watching you do it.

Interruptions: Don't you just hate those people who butt in right in the middle of an important conversation you are having with someone else? If that is done on a regular basis, the interrupter can end up being simply intolerable, and even end up shot in the head as was the case of a student in the States. Not only is it irritating, this particular trait also indicates a lack of sensitivity, and expresses a lack of respect for what others have to say. However, some people just can't help it, I mean, they just unmindfully say irrelevant things when its not at all needed. To solve this problem just give the person a 'you are not wanted here' a stare. For the chronic ones, keep a masking tape in handy! An annoying spin-off of this trait is the tendency to carry on a non-stop commentary while someone else is watching television. That, coupled with the habit of continuously channel-surfing could easily take one off the 'preferred TV-buddy' list.

Some of these habits have psychological or even medical reasons for them. Most of the time, people who have these quirks of behaviour aren't even aware that they have a problem. All it takes is a few moments of quiet reflection and honest self-examination to identify the personal habits that might bother others, and a little careful self-discipline could get rid of most of the problems. If these suggestions don't work, get a gun and shoot yourself! While it might seem silly to bother about such seemingly trivial details, these 'small' things could very well make or break a relationship. The key to eliminating these annoying attributes is to have a genuine interest in self-improvement, and also to care enough about whether people around you are comfortable with you. Once you have that, a better you is just around the corner.

By Sabrina F Ahmad



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