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5 Benefits to Working With People Who Drive You Crazy

5 Benefits to Working With People Who Drive You Crazy

by | Jun 5, 2015 | By Karin Hurt, Career & Learning, Communication |

Grow Your Leadership Competencies by Working With People Who Drive You Crazy

Do you know who I’m talking about? Perhaps it’s the guy who’s obsessed with font size, color schemes and alignment. Or the incessant questioner. Or the gal whose desk looks like hurricane “I-don’t-care” just blew across her office. We’ve all got them–the folks that make us crazy. Oh sure they’re effective, but given your druthers, you druther not have them on your project. But there can e a strange benefit to working with people who drive you crazy.

5 Benefits to Working With People Who Drive You Crazy at Work

The truth is, it’s often the folks whom we’d like to choke who are best positioned to challenge our perspective and help us grow.

1. Humility

Working with people who make your hair curl provides a perfect opportunity to practice humble patience. Focus on your shared mission, and in really listening to the bozo (oh… I mean that other human being who has a different style).

2. Complementary Skill Sets

If someone is really making you crazy, it’s likely they’re focusing on areas you’d rather not think about. Instead of being annoyed, be grateful. They can sweat that stuff so you can do you what you do best.

3. Their Network

As they say, birds of a feather. Remember the “strength of weak ties” theory (if you missed that post, click here). Chances are they’re hanging out with a different crowd. If you lean in, you could substantially expand your network.

4. Creative Tension

Being challenged is the best way to grow. If you can keep an open mind, their perspective may be just what you need to break through to the next level.

5. Improved Skills

The best way to get better at working with people who drive you crazy is to work with people who drive you crazy. It forces you to practice all those vital teamwork skills: listening, communication, running effective meetings, working through conflict.

In fact, if you’re not working with anyone that makes you crazy, perhaps it’s time to seek out a nemesis mentor, or invite that nut job (oh, I mean really valuable human being) to join your next project.

2021 Update

If you’ve found this leadership article, you have stumbled upon some of my earliest leadership writing.

Check out some of our books and cornerstone content on human-centered leadership, courage, trust and practical leadership skills.

Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results- Without Losing Your SoulDownload a FREE chapter of Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results- Without Losing Your Soul

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Or learn more about our Courageous Culture research in our Fast Company and CNBC articles.



Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today?


  1. Josh Dragon

    This is so true. I have had a person at work who has driven me a bit crazy for the last couple of years. I can honestly say that my people skills have had to grow at an exponential rate in order handle our interactions. I have not necessarily enjoyed this growth, but it has been beneficial none the less.

    • Karin Hurt

      Josh, Awesome to have you chime in. I’m glad you recognize that growth. I teach an entire MBA class on difficult people. This is an elective and there is a waiting list. It takes real work to get these relationships to work, but it can really build transferable skills.

  2. Matt Hileman


    I absolutely love this topic today. I have an ongoing issue that is just driving me batty with the folks we are working with one gentleman in particular. He responds to emails restating the same thing I just informed him of, but not answering my question.

    One thing I would like to add to the list is consider what these individuals have going on in their lives. Are the dealing the a divorce or troubled teen. Is their parent terminally ill and all their effort are being spent trying to hold their emotions together not knowing if last night was the last time they would tell them they loved them.

    I want also reiterate to what you posted a few weeks back, have self-compassion. It’s okay for them to drive you crazy or for you to not like how they are always late for meetings. Allow those feelings to happen and like you mention here, learn how to use those challenges to your advantage.

    Thanks your daily guidance,


    • Karin Hurt

      Matt, GREAT to have you join the conversation. Thank you. Excellent insights. I so agree with you. Pretty much everyone has something tricky going on in their lives that we don’t know about. I find that heading into any working relationship assuming that goes a long way in approaching the interactions with deeper empathy and compassion.

  3. LaRae Quy

    I have often felt this way, Karin! I am so much more comfortable being around people who are just like me…

    But I have found that folks who think and act like I do not stretch me…they are so easy to be around that I don’t have to put much effort into the relationship.

    Those who are different from me, however…now that is another story. I tend to pay more attention to what they both saying and doing. In short, I actually learn more from them because I have to intentionally squash my natural tendency to want to walk away.

    Great post, as always!

    • Karin Hurt

      LaRae, Me too! I’ve actually gotten to the point that I seek out some of these folks because I know the end product will be better, even if the process is a little more stressful.

  4. Paul Robbins

    Thank you, Karin, for the important reminder! I’ve been sensing myself frustrated lateley with coworkers, and I keep telling myself points similar to yours. Hearing it from you lent synergy to my reflection. Funny, huh, how we mortals are all in the same boat together?!

    • Karin Hurt

      Paul, Ahhh, yes we are 😉 That’s why it’s so much fun to talk about it.


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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict, and hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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