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Senior Correspondent

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 while they miss opportunity.

Influence and personal growth decline in proportion to negative reactions.

Understanding: 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 judgment are windows. Some frustrating people are fearful or angry. Ask yourself what their desire for control tells 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.

Message: The person telling you what to do is telling you to be more like them. Don’t let frustration drive your response. Learn from it and adapt rather than react.

Adapt: Be quiet with the quiet and aggressive with the aggressive. The strategy of adapting even includes drama. Someone’s all worked up over a “minor” situation. At least momentarily, get worked up too. If you stay calm, they assume 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.

Growth: 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?

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