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How to Manage Your Emotions With People Who Annoy You

Apr 25, 2016

Have you ever worked with or for someone who just pushed your buttons--the ones labeled “irritating, obnoxious, annoying” or something similarly, well, negative?

If you’ve been in the working world for any length of time, chances are you’ve come across people with whom you not only don’t click, you downright clash.

Here are some tips for how to maintain your composure and professionalism when working with someone you don't like:

1.  Pause and Observe:  

You are not your feelings. In the spirit of mindful observation, notice when you are reacting negatively to someone and pause and breathe deeply. Do NOT react in the moment.

Pretend you are a young child or a wise old person looking at yourself, and then label the emotions that you see being triggered in present-day you.

Imagine your emotions flowing right through you, as if they are coming in one window and out another. Don’t let them get stuck inside you...let them pass right through.

2.  Try Out Different Possible Interpretations of their Behavior.

Sure, you might think a co-worker is arrogant, for example. Another person might find him really insecure or just lacking the gift of emotional intelligence.

Think of as many different possible interpretations of this person’s behavior as you can. We are often quick to leap to the worst possible interpretation instead of the best.  Loosen your grip on your interpretation by seeing what else could be true.

3.  Recognize that Things are Seldom as Awful or Wonderful as They First Seem.

We can almost always look back and realize that things we thought were a big deal at the time, really weren’t. Use that hard won wisdom to guide your future behavior and keep things in their proper perspective.

4.  Connect with Your End Goal, and Ask Yourself What the Best Next Step is in Service Toward It.

For example, if you are working on a long-term project with someone you find challenging, your best next step might be to work on getting to know her better over lunch or coffee, rather than complaining about her or avoiding her.

When you make an effort to discover other aspects about a person besides their annoying behaviors, you can almost always find something of value, even if you are never going to be great friends with this person.

We are in charge of our own interpretations of events and people. Remember that you get to choose.

And when all else fails, choose humor. Take a page from the Brady Bunch playbook and imagine them in their underwear.


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