5 Benefits to Working With People Who Drive You Crazy

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.

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.

5 Benefits to Working With People Who Drive You Crazy

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.

Posted in Career & Learning, Communication and tagged , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 3 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. 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.

    • 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. Karin-

    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,


    • 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. 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!

    • 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. 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?!

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

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