How to Get the Most From Irritating People

You don’t want to understand irritating people. You want to control, correct, or eject them. Leaders who don’t understand irritating people resort to authority and miss opportunity.

Influence and personal growth decline in proportion to negative reaction.



Irritating people judge you through the eyes of their strengths and the lens of their values. They like it when they see themselves in you and want to “help” when they don’t.

Frustration, affirmation, and judgement are windows.

Some frustrating people are fearful or angry. What does their desire for control tell you about their values and vision? What type of environment would result from adopting their guidance?

What do you know about people who are frustrated with change? They value stability, consistency, and predictability.

Affirmations also reveal values and strengths. Kind people love your kindness. Straight-shooters congratulate you for telling it like it is and tell you to get to the point when you don’t.


The person telling you what to do is telling you to be more like them.

Don’t let frustration drive your response. Learn and adapt, don’t react.


Be quiet with the quiet and aggressive with the aggressive. Kind people love your kindness, for example. The strategy of adapting even includes drama.

Someone’s all worked up over a “minor” situation. Get worked up too, at least momentarily. If you stay calm, they determine you don’t get it.

Before calming them down. Feel their drama. “Oh really! Tell me more.” Let them know you’re listening before explaining it’s not a big  deal.

People struggle with the part of you that isn’t like them.


Irritating people represent your greatest opportunity for growth and development. Growth begins with irritation.

Humility grows and adapts; arrogance reacts and attacks.

How do you deal with irritating people?