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Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you if your emotions regularly run out of control when you’re made to repeat yourself. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.
It’s rare to find someone who loves to repeat themselves.
Unless someone is neurodivergent and finds comfort in repeated sounds and phrases, there’s a good chance that they’ll feel emotions such as frustration, irritation, and even anxiety or depression when they’re forced to repeat themselves again and again.
This can be especially true if you’ve been sharing important information, or you wish to be listened to and respected.
If you’re one of those people who really, truly hates repeating themselves, your rage levels might jump from 0 to 100 any time you’re asked to go over what you just said yet another time. I’m an Aries, I get it, and repeating myself is one of the biggest banes of my existence.
Unfortunately, this kind of repetition might be required at various points in life, and we don’t always have the luxury of refusing to repeat what we’ve just said. As such, the best way to navigate this response is to determine what exactly it is we’re feeling when that anger or irritation begins to rise. That will inform our response to it.
Why do you hate repeating yourself?
When you’re asked to repeat yourself and you sense that wave of emotion hit you, check in with yourself to figure out what exactly you’re feeling. Much like pain, recognizing how an emotion is manifesting can be helpful for learning how to manage it.
Does it feel like annoyance or anger because you weren’t listened to and respected the first time? Or maybe you feel sad or hurt because the person you’re talking to didn’t feel that you were important enough to listen to, so why bother saying it again?
Maybe you’re feeling disappointed because you rushed in and told people something that excited you or made you happy and their response was a simple, “Hm? What was that?” and didn’t share your enthusiasm. As such, you might have felt that there was no point in sharing it again because the moment had passed.
Or you might have felt nervous or wary in trying to express a difficult emotion, and repeating what you’d stated would be awkward, so you just say, “Forget it.” This might then transform into frustration and hurt because you didn’t get to express yourself, you weren’t heard, and you don’t know if you can bring yourself to try that again later.
When you determine exactly what it is you’re feeling, you have a better understanding of how you respond in situations like these. From there, you can determine whether your reactions are due to circumstances that are actually unfolding, or if it’s your perception thereof that’s informing your reactions.
For instance, if you grew up in an environment where your thoughts and feelings were invalidated, then you might be hypersensitive to people not listening to you when you speak. Even if their response was totally innocuous—likely because they were otherwise engaged when you started talking—you’ll be emotionally transported back to all the times when you were ignored or dismissed without proper respect.
What is it about repeating yourself that irritates you?
Like all situations, finding the root cause for an issue is the best way to sort out how to fix it.
Above, we touched upon how important it is for you to determine what it is you’re feeling when you’re asked to repeat yourself. Although many people will feel anger or sorrow in these situations, the most common response is irritation or annoyance. So let’s unpack this a little bit.
What is it exactly that’s irritating you in this scenario?
For many people, their main irritation with having to repeat themselves is that they feel like their time is being wasted. They only have so many minutes to spend in their lifetime, and they’re throwing them away because other people can’t be bothered to listen to what they’ve said the first time.
In other cases, it’s an aversion to any kind of repetition. This is especially true if someone is hypersensitive to sound. As an example, my partner hates listening to Soundgarden because their lyrics are too repetitive for her and she finds that tedious and annoying. People who are irritated by repetitive rhythms or sounds like ambulance sirens, ringing phones, beeping trucks, or barking dogs will often also be annoyed by repeated phrases. This includes having to say the same thing over and over again—not just hearing someone else do it.
Finally, there’s the feeling that you’re not being respected when you speak. Maybe you’ve given a presentation at work and are asked to give a detail that you’ve already shared twice, but the people listening haven’t paid attention to what you’ve said. Or you’ve told your family several times that you can’t eat a certain food because you’ve developed an allergy to it (or you’ve chosen to stop eating it for ethical or spiritual reasons), but they still serve it because they keep forgetting what you’ve told them 800 times.
In situations like that, it’s easy to feel that you’re somehow not important enough for them to really pay attention to you. It’s an awful feeling, and it makes us not want to bother engaging with them. Furthermore, it can drum up real feelings of anger, especially in the latter case.
When you’ve told someone something important about your health and they keep asking you to repeat why, it’s not just exhausting: it’s insulting.
What are your thoughts surrounding the need for repetition?
We may have to repeat ourselves for a variety of different reasons, and each of them can influence our emotions in different ways. More often than not, people get irritated and upset about repeating themselves because they feel that they aren’t being heard or respected. That their voice doesn’t matter, and that their boundaries are being crossed intentionally.
Alternatively, they might be upset because they don’t see any valid reason as to why the other person just isn’t listening to them.
It’s likely that you’re the type of person who only needs to be told something once and you’re good to go. This could be instructions on how to do something, plans for the day, other people’s preferences/boundaries, or even a movie or book title. As such, you likely get annoyed when you’ve told someone else something over and over again and it seems like it’s blown in one ear and out the other.
It’s important to remember that other people aren’t the same as we are, and they might have a number of different blocks when it comes to information retention. You might be able to recite a poem from memory that you learned when you were eight, but your best friend with ADHD can’t remember whether you’d like sugar in your coffee, even though he’s asked you five times in the past half hour.
This is why it’s important to focus on the intention behind them asking you to repeat yourself, as well as their capability for comprehension and info retention.
How to reduce your annoyance when you have to repeat yourself.
There are a few things you can do to lessen your rage/hurt response when repetition seems to be necessary.
Take a moment to view this situation without emotional involvement.
Generally, the best way to diffuse annoyance in any given situation is to pull back and gain perspective on the situation as a whole. When you do that, you pull your attention away from yourself and your own discomfort and see all the moving parts that are contributing to this scenario.
By doing that, you can step away from your knee-jerk emotional response and have greater compassion, empathy, and understanding for all that’s going on.
Is the person you’re speaking to engrossed in something else when you’ve tried to say something to them, but it’s irritating to have to repeat yourself? Try to remember what it felt like when you were in their position, such as being completely immersed in a book you were reading only to realize that someone has just asked you or told you something and you didn’t catch it at all.
In a situation like that, the person who’s been immersed hasn’t been disrespectful, nor were they not bothering to pay attention to what’s been said. Rather, they were involved in doing their own thing when they were interrupted and their attention was demanded elsewhere. To counteract this, ensure that you have someone’s attention before talking to them. This will avoid sensory overload and crossed wires.
On a similar note, say you’ve asked your grandfather if he’d like a cup of tea, and he asked you what it was you said. So you have to ask him again, and that’s irritating to you. Take a moment and remember that he’s likely feeling frustrated about getting old and losing his hearing. He’s not intentionally ignoring you; he literally cannot hear properly. You might feel annoyed by the repetition, but he feels a great deal of self-loathing and frustration that his body isn’t working the way it used to.
It’s amazing to see how anger and irritation diffuse with understanding and compassion. When you realize that it’s not about you—that people aren’t being disrespectful or inconsiderate, but rather are caught up in their own “stuff”—it’s a lot easier to be more patient with them.
Determine whether there’s room for you to express yourself more clearly.
One friend of mine gets irritated with having to repeat himself on the regular, while everyone around him gets frustrated in turn because they can’t hear him when he speaks. This is because he speaks rather softly, in a tone that often gets swallowed up by ambient noise. His voice resonates at around the same frequency as the fridge or stovetop fan, so when he says something, we literally cannot understand anything that’s come out of his mouth. Add to the fact that his moustache and beard obscure the lower half of his face, and we can’t even lip read to determine what he’s been saying!
After a lot of frustration on both sides, we explained our stance to him as to why we couldn’t catch what was said, and he took steps to adjust things accordingly.
As a result, he has learned to turn off the fan or step out of the kitchen if he needs to ask or tell us something. He also gets our attention first before speaking, so we don’t miss what he’s said because we’re otherwise engrossed. This significantly reduces frustrations on all sides.
Consider this approach when it comes to navigating irritation at having to repeat the same thing several times over.
When and if people ask you to repeat yourself, ask them (calmly, after the fact) why it was that they couldn’t hear you the first time you spoke. Make this non-confrontational, without anger or blame, but rather position it like you’re looking for middle ground so everyone is heard and understood properly. You may discover that the other person was merely focused on something else and didn’t catch what you said the first time, or that other noise going on around you cancelled out what it was you’d said.
Alternatively, the other person might apologize and own up to the fact that their attention was elsewhere. They might tell you that they’ve had a lot going on and were caught up in their own thoughts when they should have been giving you their full attention. Or they might have some hearing impairment that they haven’t told others about yet.
When they explain themselves, the irritation is often lessened significantly. Furthermore, communicating like this is a great opportunity to improve rapport both in the moment and in future exchanges.
Take action to reduce your need to repeat yourself in the future.
Quite often, taking action ahead of time can reduce both annoyance and the possibility of having to repeat yourself in the future. This might involve being aware of the situation that’s unfolding and adjusting your tone and volume so that you’re heard or adjusting people’s behavior so that they respect your responses.
In most cases, you can find a middle ground between understanding the behavior that’s causing a demand for repetition and making sure you’re being listened to.
Adjust timing and tone.
When we’re aware of our circumstances and what’s going on around us, we can generally determine whether this is an ideal time to say something, or if we’ll end up having to repeat ourselves. I’ve learned this through personal experience, and this kind of spatial awareness can be immensely helpful.
For instance, let’s say I’m working in the yard and I have to ask my partner to grab me a tool from the workshop. My instinct might be to call out and ask her to get it for me, but when I’m outside the house, with the chainsaw running, and wind blowing around me, she won’t hear a damned thing. As a result, I could yell the request several times over, but said request would be drowned out by the ambient noise each and every time.
To avoid this, the best course of action would be for me to poke my head in the door and determine where she is. Then, once I’ve found her, have made eye contact, and ensured that she can hear me, I can ask if she’s available to grab me a screwdriver or more gas for the saw, etc.
Doing this lessens frustrations on all sides because we’re both heard and respected: I haven’t gone hoarse yelling into the wind, and she hasn’t needed to ask me to repeat myself a dozen times to hear me over the cacophony.
The same thing can happen if you need to ask your deaf grandpa if he’d like that tea. If you know he’s hard of hearing, don’t call out to him from the next room. Take a moment to walk over to where you know you’ll be seen and heard, and ask him in a clear, loud voice if he’d like a cup. He’ll appreciate the effort, and you won’t be annoyed by the need for repetition.
This technique also works for those who may have cognitive impairment or otherwise have difficulty understanding. Taking the time to ensure clarity and understanding from the beginning means that neither side will end up frustrated and irritated by the exchange.
Establish consequences for not listening to and respecting what’s been said.
Let’s say your kid has asked for a cookie before dinner, and you’ve told them “no.” Their response will undoubtedly be to ask again, possibly coming at you from a different angle. This will undoubtedly provoke a rage spike since you’ve already answered them and that should be enough.
After you’ve already said “no” once, stop what you’re doing, get down to their level, and make eye contact. Say something like, “You have already asked me this, and I have answered you. What was my answer?” They’ll likely look at their feet and say that you said “no,” and promptly start whining because they want the cookie, at which point you remind them that the answer was “no,” that answer is not going to change, and not to ask you again.
Then give them a consequence for crossing that boundary. For example, you can tell them that if they ask you again, they won’t be allowed to have dessert. Rather than punishing them without any warning ahead of time, they will have been told that if they do X, then Y will be the end result.
One of two things will happen: either they’ll listen and stop asking you, or you’ll have to uphold that consequence and deal with a howling tantrum later. But they will learn the lesson that their actions have consequences. They might try to pull the “I forgot!” card about asking you again, but both of you will know full well that they were just testing boundaries.
Hold firm to the consequences for the sake of less annoyance later on.
Adjust your responses to suit your circumstances.
As you can imagine, the technique used above probably wouldn’t fly in a workplace: you’d likely end up being called into HR for a chat. That doesn’t mean that you’re stuck repeating yourself ad nauseum in a professional setting, but rather that you adapt and respond accordingly.
When in doubt, write it out.
This simple solution can make an enormous impact when it comes to avoiding repeating yourself.
For example, if granddad is so hearing impaired that you still have to scream at him from a foot away, then writing down “TEA?” in large, legible writing might save everyone a great deal of frustration and heartache. Maybe consider adding a smiley face or a heart to let him know that you love him and aren’t upset with him or anything. Or just run over and hug him after he’s given you an enthusiastic thumbs-up response.
On a similar note, let’s say that you’ve had to explain to your coworker how to do something 50 times, but they seem to keep forgetting and need you to remind them. Write out the steps in an easy-to-follow fashion, and give them those instructions. If and when they ask you for help again, remind them that you have given them everything they need to do this effectively.
The same goes for responding to queries or requests via email or text. If you’ve given your response and the person asks you the same thing again—possibly in an attempt to get you to change your mind—you can refer back to the previous response and remind them that you have answered that question, as they can see from the last exchange, and is extra info needed?
Remember that tone is everything.
If you’re dealing with superiors at work or college, you’ll have to maintain a certain degree of professional courtesy and respect. As such, avoid sarcasm or antagonism in your responses. Replying in big, colorful letters in Comic Sans so they finally pay attention to what you’re saying will undoubtedly end up with you being written up for insubordination.
So keep things professional and courteous, but also firm. You can stand your ground and insist upon being respected without being mean or disrespectful.
Find the weak link.
If you’ve explained something to someone and they ask you to repeat it, rather than responding with “DID I STUTTER?”, ask them what it is they’re stuck on. The gifts we give people are rarely the gifts that they receive, and that goes for explanations too. We might assume that others have the same degree of experience and competence with something that they do, and thus give them instructions that we would understand.
But that doesn’t mean that they’ll “get” it.
Let’s use the coworker example mentioned before. If they keep getting stuck on the same thing over and over again, then chances are they’ve had difficulty with part of the instructions. Take the time to go through what you’ve written down step by step and ask them where they’ve gotten stuck.
You may discover that what you’ve taken for granted as universal knowledge is still fairly unfamiliar to them. For instance, a new prep assistant in a kitchen might not know the difference between mincing and dicing a particular ingredient. Or that intern receptionist might have never put footnotes into a document before.
What we take for granted might be new territory to someone else. Once we understand that, we can adjust the written instructions to take their familiarity into account. This empowers them so they learn new skills, while reducing our desire to punch through walls in frustration.
Take a minute to regroup.
If you find that you’re hit by a serious wave of anger or irritation when someone asks you to repeat yourself, then take a breather. Go for a walk, have a cold drink, and take a few deep belly breaths. This will bring the rage levels back down to the green zone so you can go over the situation without going ballistic.
As an added bonus, this often gives the other person a moment to recalibrate too. They might have actually heard what you said, but felt flustered in the moment and asked for clarification instead of confirmation.
Taking a little break like this can make a huge difference in interpersonal exchanges.
Hopefully these tips will be helpful to you the next time you find yourself in this kind of scenario. Remember that your thoughts and experiences are valued and respected, and that other people’s intentions and actions might be due to their own personal issues. Remain stoic, adapt your approach to the situation, and your need to repeat yourself should lessen exponentially.
Not sure why you get so bothered at having to repeat yourself? Struggling to stay composed when you do? Talking to someone can really help you to handle whatever life throws at you. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and feelings out of your head so you can work through them.
Speak to a therapist about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to figure out the reasons why you hate having to repeat yourself so much and give tailored advice so that it doesn’t get to you quite so much moving forwards.
BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
You may also like:
- How To Speak More Clearly, Stop Mumbling, And Be Heard The First Time
- How To Explain Things Better To Help People Understand
- 13 Reasons Why People Don’t Listen To You