You know that person. They walk into the meeting room, and you only want to walk out. Your email bings, and their name shows up, and you can feel your anger rising before you even read whatever they wrote. Their name appears on your phone, and you automatically hit “refuse” – or at least you want to.
We all have at least one “that person” in our lives. I know I do. The person who drives you crazy. The person you can’t stand to be around. Or manage a project with. That person.
The challenge is that while we all have at least one “that person,” at least for most of us, we have to find a way to work with them. Whether we want to or not.
The other challenge I’ve noticed in my life and with my clients is that often that person who drives you crazy is someone who is a bit like you. Perhaps that is what drives you crazy. But certainly, you hate to admit it.
A few years ago we were embarking on a marketing project for our firm, and one of the vendors we hired was a “that person” for me. We’d schedule conference calls, and I could hear my own frustration in my voice. “That person” was so unreasonable. Or irresponsible. We’d meet in person, and the project would slide towards derailment because “that person” and I couldn’t seem to have a rational conversation. And I’m a rational person, at least usually.
We were in the midst of a huge derailment of our project, and I was desperate to find a way to a productive end. But I could only see roadblocks and misunderstanding in how “that person” engaged with me. I’m self-aware enough to know that it couldn’t all be “that person’s” fault, and that I was certainly adding to the mess, but I couldn’t see a way out no matter how hard I tried.
I turned to a trusted colleague and practically begged for guidance and help. “What can I do?” I asked. “I can’t blow this up, and apparently I can’t not!”
My friend looked straight at me and said, “Pretend ‘that person’ is someone you love. Pretend they’re your favorite person.”
I sat with that option for a while. I meditated a bit on goodness and love and positive connections. And I approached “that person” – with love – imagining them to be someone I cared about. Someone I appreciated. Someone who was as far from being a “that person” to me as anyone could be.
I put my arm around my “that person,” and said, “let’s find a way through this to an outcome we both want.” It worked.
My colleague was a genius, because remembering that my “that person” probably had good intentions and certainly wanted a good end result as much as I did allowed me to get past my frustration and judgment. Whether or not it was justified.
It allowed me to find a way to get along with my “that person” and to get an end product we both could be happy with.
How have you managed to get along with the person who drives you crazy?
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For support in working well with “that person”, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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