3 ways to take advantage of those annoying people


You can always choose your response to irritants.

You know who they are: the walking human ivy all around you whose sole purpose in life seems to be irritating you. Prospects, clients, vendors, collaborators, friends, neighbors, family members…any and all may fall into this category.

Since you can’t work in a vacuum or change other people’s behaviors, it’s in your best interests to follow some sage advice from musician Kris Kristofferson: “If you can’t get out of something, get into it.” In other words, plunge into the situation wholeheartedly and find something about it that works for you.

Here are three ways to benefit from getting into annoying people.

1. Use them as a reminder that you are not an amoeba.

Amoebas and other lower life forms unthinkingly react to stimuli; it’s automatic. As (presumably) more intelligent life forms, humans have the ability to respond to the various stimuli that come their way. A response is slower, more thoughtful, and typically more effective than a knee-jerk reaction.

So when your favorite type of irritating person shows up, remember that you’ve got a lot more mental resources than your average amoeba. You can choose how to respond to the irritation. It’s up to you whether you allow it to ruin your day or just flow on past as an event that doesn’t have any true power over you and your emotions.

In fact, you can actually turn these human irritants into powerful motivators for your own personal growth. That’s where strategy number two comes in handy.

2. View them as a mirror for your own potentially counterproductive behaviors.

I’ve noticed that oftentimes the behaviors I find most irritating in other people are the behaviors that drive me most crazy when I do them myself. Being late for an appointment, looking on the dark side, complaining about a problem but not offering any solutions…I’ve aggravated myself immensely by doing all of these at one time or another. Maybe that’s why I see red when someone else does them.

You always have the power to choose your response.

Your own irritability over someone else’s behavior can act as a huge neon sign pointing out some personal behavior that you might benefit from changing. Any time you find yourself getting teed off…stop, breathe, and ask yourself if you ever exhibit that behavior yourself. If you do, there’s a high probability that you’re doing just as good a job of irritating other people as they’re doing of irritating you. And that just adds to the stress and challenges that typically come with being an entrepreneur.

This approach is a specific application of strategy number three.

3. Look for the value underlying their irritating behaviors.

Using irritants as a mirror for your own actions is not the only value to be found in them. You can also choose to dig deep and see if there’s any additional value in the behavior that sets your teeth on edge. For example:

4. (Okay, so I lied in the blog title.) Remember that living well is the best revenge.

Now, I’m certainly not saying you’d ever deliberately try to retaliate by annoying those people who annoy you. That would be immature. But if your response to them just happens to irritate the hell out of them while improving your own situation, that’s hardly your fault, right?

That’s why I encourage you to keep in mind Herb Albright’s brilliant observation: “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”


Each of these strategies requires you to make a choice. It’s always up to you to decide: Do you let this human poison ivy irritate you unbearably, or do you find a way to deal with them and their behavior so that you stay in charge of your emotional well-being?

What do you think? Are there some behaviors you’re convinced have no hidden value whatsoever? How do you deal with them? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

(By the way, thanks to Kerry Wixted for the poison ivy image.  I found it in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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