3 Leadership Practices To Deal With People Who Annoy You Most
We’ve all been there. He talks too much. She asks the most annoying questions. He reacts impulsively. Her fixation on organization drives me nuts! His head is in the clouds!
People. I could get so much more done if I didn’t have to spend the bulk of my waking hours dealing with their annoying habits, traits, attitudes, and actions! If more people would just be like me, this world would be a better, less crazy, higher functioning place!
Maybe you haven’t said it, but I’d suspect you’ve been abducted and brainwashed by an alien species if these thoughts never cross your mind. Let’s be honest; communicating with others who are wired differently than us can be extremely annoying.
Educational psychologist and personality theorist David Keirsey said “Man’s Pygmalion project is to make all those near him just like him.” I won’t go into the whole Greek myth story about how the sculptor Pygmalion decided none of the women of his day lived up to his image of perfection so he made a sculpture, fell in love with it, then the goddess Aphrodite brought it to life and he married it (her). That’s basically the story in a nutshell.
The point is, we often have fundamental issues with the way others think, feel, and act. If we’re honest, the continuum moves from being mildly annoyed to entering a vortex of total exasperation. Tons of energy and time is spent dealing with interpersonal issues in the classroom and the workplace every day.
What if there were some ways to “lean into” what annoys us most about others in ways that increased wellbeing for everyone? Today I share with you three practices leaders can use to deal with people who annoy them most.
First, set aside five minutes of mindfulness and ask yourself this question; “What’s it like on the other side of me?” Or, for the purpose of our discussion here, “How am I most annoying to others?” It has been well established that people have a “bias blind spot,” meaning that they are less likely to detect bias in themselves than others. In reality, it’s often our own blind spots, weaknesses, and growth areas that bring out a critical mindset toward others. One of the things I continue to learn about myself as a leader is that what I sometimes feel I have been clear in communicating an expectation, that for a teammate, requires more explanation. My bias toward movement and taking action can cause me to loose sight of communicating in ways that take into account different ways people hear.
Second, give others grace or the benefit of the doubt. Researchers have defined a term called “fundamental attribution error” that describes how we judge others behavior while making assumptions about and assigning what we believe to be their intent. This tendency to explain someone's behavior based on internal factors, such as personality or disposition, and to underestimate the influence that external factors, such as situational influences, often causes us to stumble into that dreadful ditch of assumption that shuts down listening and empathy while ratcheting up judgment.
Third, become an avid student of the whole spectrum of personality temperament. Yes, there are over 1000 assessments and counting, including “Which Disney princess are you most like?” Most of these instruments find their source in the four streams or psychological types of Carl Young – Meyers Briggs, Keirsey Bates, and True Colors created by Don Lowry. They all possess valuable tools to assist you in the process of understanding yourself and others. Here are several brief examples from True Colors.
The Blue temperament is all about relationships. Blues like to act out and participate fully in the human dramas of life. A lot of their energy is spent paying attention to how they and those around them feel and what they are going through personally and emotionally. Show care when they are sharing to promote a receptive atmosphere for them to express their feelings.
The Gold temperament is all about values. Golds are reliable and consistent. They want you to place full confidence in them because they are very serious about doing a good job. Golds enjoy opportunities for leadership; give them the responsibility of coordinating events. When they say they will do something they will follow through, making sure they have addressed every detail.
The Green temperament is all about knowledge. Greens are extremely curious; they have a need to learn and comprehend. You can gain their cooperation by being objective and avoiding power struggles when their strong sense of logic challenges your ideas and data. Admire their intelligence; let them know you value their wisdom. When you make it a point to ask for their opinion and supporting arguments on a topic, you will enlist their cooperation and maintain a positive atmosphere.
The Orange temperament is all about action. As natural performers, Oranges need the freedom to express themselves. As natural fun-seekers, they like to recruit others to play along with them. For the most part, whether they admit it or not, they enjoy being the center of attention. They love any opportunity to show their skillfulness, cleverness, agility, and precision. Give them immediate feedback and praise for the clever way they handled a situation.
Being mindful of how you come across, giving others grace, and being a consummate student of human personality differences are leadership practices that have the power to transform the way you communicate with others, as well as their perspective of you. Any leader worth their salt will take the risk to deal with annoying people in ways that open spaces for positive interactions.