Tolerance, gratitude, and an awful lot of other ways we hold back the truth, stop us from killing one another on a regular basis. Our entire society and etiquette system is based on saying thank you for gifts we don't like, pretending we don't mind things, putting up with the presence of people we wish would go away, and generally being nice to annoying people to keep the peace, when we'd really rather tell them exactly what we think. And we all know this. We know full well when a person says "it's no trouble", that often it is, but politeness forbids any of us from breaking the rules and being honest.
I've even noticed a second level of make believe, whereby the person being annoyed pretends to be amused instead. Sometimes they are pretending to themselves - they've been taught somewhere that if you laugh instead, the annoyance doesn't get to you. Not sure how long you can keep that up.
What should we do instead?
Ideally, we should not get annoyed in the first place. With practice and serious intent, that can work at least some of the time. Most of us can learn to sometimes, let some of it just wash over us. I have found it gets easier with age, others have found the opposite. But there are times when no matter how hard we try not to, we allow annoying people to mess with our groove. It breaks through. It gets to us. This is especially true if they are doing it deliberately, and/or repetitively, but it can happen even if they are being annoying without realizing it.
I have found two approaches very helpful, together or separately.
1. Feel sorry for them. Ah, they may not deserve sympathy. But consider this: they are not happy. Something is causing them to behave in a way that is negative. It's never a good thing. Happy people do not do these annoying things. So, pity the fool.
2. Analyze them. Why does he do this? Find him an interesting case study. A puzzle to be solved. Figure out what it is that makes him behave in such a way.
One of the things I disapprove of in the normal course of events is revenge. I sometimes make an exception with annoying people. I try to drive them mad. Step 1 is to show an excessive amount of kindness towards them. It is completely fake, obviously, I'd really rather avoid them, and depending on just how annoying they are, I might rather put an axe through their head. But violence solves nothing, and faking sweetness can be almost as much fun.
Then, Step 2, analyze them out loud. Don't give any clues as to why you are doing it, just offer the conclusions of your study. Instead of reacting to their negativity in the way they expect, try showing concern, offering ideas to the root cause of the trouble. And I don't mean in the "subtle as a flying" brick sarcasm that my husband is known for ("What crawled up your arse?"). No. Instead try:
"Traffic was awful this morning, wasn't it?"
"Yes, some warm, dry weather would make such a difference."
"Of course, these solar flares are such a nuisance."
But if you are really at the end of your tether, you might wish to resort to:
"Oh you poor dear, are you constipated? I have some gentle herbal laxatives that might help. Would you like them?"
That should confuse them completely.