Can we be honest with each other? Some people are downright annoying.

Many of the people that you meet or see in person or on electronic media do or say things that raise your blood pressure. From the nut that cuts you off in traffic, to the neighbor that allows their pooch to defecate in your yard, to the armchair political quarterbacks on Facebook there’s no shortage of vexatious people. The nice thing about this group is that you can often turn them off or relegate them to the outer reaches of your mind. Click, gone.

Not so with the dreaded in-laws. Do you remember last Thanksgiving when your brother in-law, the one who thinks that being an Amway distributor is owning your own business and that in-laws are the same thing as a downline, tried to sell you on his latest get-rich-quick scheme? Or, the time when one of your in-laws asked you to take the nieces and nephews to the theater and you footed the entire bill?

Yes, in-laws can be malignant and inescapable unless you are fortunate enough to contract a “dangerous” virus of one sort or another. In-laws are the very reason why you should have taken acting while at college rather than the other worthless electives that you did (Do you really remember anything useful about anthropology?).

That being said, “contracting” a dangerous illness won’t help you at work if someone annoys you. Here you have to show up otherwise the paychecks stop.

Rage quitting seems like a plausible alternative except when you realize that you would have to live with the in-laws, where endless tales of your brother-in-law’s awesome “business” and fantasies of your wealth under his pyramid scheme await. Yeah, I think I’ll keep going to work as well.

So, you have to live with your fellow teammates and all of their flaws. But, could you annoy them or make them feel unwelcome in some way? It would be the best for the team if those people left anyway, right? If they’re annoying to you they must be annoying to others and while you might be fanning the flames a little bit here and there, they’re acting like a bozo and deserve what they get.

They’re obviously not a “culture” fit so they must go.

Or, should they?

If an someone is misbehaving in your mind, do you know why they’re behaving the way they are or are you just assuming you know? While their behaviour may be blatantly and obviously uncalled for from your perspective, they may truly believe the way they are handling things is without error. As Franklin Covey said in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

It may seem counter productive at times since you know that this person is trying to be a douche, but you have to do your due diligence and investigate the situation to find out the true reason for their behaviour. That person might actually be trying to be a douche but, at that point all you should really do is try to gain clarity and share your viewpoint and feelings after you’ve received it.

You shouldn’t react to their emotionally charged response with another emotionally charged response. It just doesn’t end well. If you clarify their position, ask questions, and set clear expectations it tends to diffuse the situation.

Now you might be thinking, “this person has already taken too much time, I’ve spent days talking with this person to no avail. It just keeps going around in circles.”

You’re not asking the right questions and or the right follow up questions. You don’t have to let the conversation drag on for hours, you control it to a certain degree since a conversation requires at least two people.

That doesn’t mean that you say “we’re ending this conversation since you’re an idiot.” Quite to the contrary, you need to ask the right questions at the right times and remind them of things that they said previously and your previous answers and expectations (in a kind manner, of course).

Often times, an annoying teammate is a symptom of a lack of effective communication. The manner in which you’re communicating might not allow their message to be heard, or they just don’t like you. In any case, it requires further investigation on your part to get to the real issue and acknowledge and or address it.

Sometimes, all that people want is to be heard. They don’t care if all their advice is taken or not but they do want to know that you’re actually listening.

While you might think that a person isn’t a good employee because of their incessant badgering and inane comments, the one who complains is often times not the worst employee - they’re just the loudest.

The ones who are the true douche bags typically try to stay under the radar and smooth the waters with their Jedi mind tricks. They don’t want to make waves since they would come under greater scrutiny. The annoying people might think that they’re perfect, which is an issue itself, but often times they are productive and strive for quality. That’s probably why they’re speaking up, they’re dissatisfied with the current situation. That shows that they’re probably endeavoring to make the company a better place, however misguided their actions appear to be.

So, when you have an annoying person on your hands, think twice before you relegate them to “bad person” territory. You need to first listen to them to hear their true message, otherwise you might be jumping to an incorrect conclusion with someone who truly cares.