Only two things are infinite, the universe, and human stupidity and I’m not sure about the former.

— Albert Einstein

You know the feeling.

You are having one of those days where idiots seem to be coming out of the woodwork to torture you with absurd questions and ridiculous requests. 

They have a sixth sense for knowing you haven’t had your coffee yet.

Your face gets hot, your fists clench and you take so many “calm down” deep breaths that you think you might hyperventilate.

Although you suspect you may be overreacting, you are convinced that these people are intentionally trying to drive you insane.

You are not alone. 

Stupid people have been tormenting other people since the dawn of time.

Before I pop the top off a can of politically incorrect worms, let me clarify that I’m not weighing in on a discussion about I.Q. I’m not advocating mistreating people who are less intelligent than others (no matter how you define “intelligence” or if you even think such a thing exists). I know that we are ALL guilty of behaving stupidly or acting out of ignorance at times, regardless of our level of intelligence.

I’m talking about the woman who asks you the same question you’ve already answered 10 times, because she didn’t write the answer down

I’m talking about the guy in your office who calls you at your desk phone and then asks you where you are

I’m talking about that coworker who just sneezed without covering her mouth…all over the paperwork she is trying to hand to you.

These are actual scenarios I’ve encountered in office jobs and these aren’t even the really bad ones. I’m sure you’ve got your own stories to add to the list.

What we’re really talking about here is either: 
A) lack of common sense or
B) unwillingness to use it 

In either case, the impact is the same.

The thing is, you will HAVE to interact with people that get on your nerves. The majority of the time it is totally unintentional on their part – even if it doesn’t feel like it. 

The lack of awareness that causes others to offend you causes them to be unaware that they HAVE offended you. 

It’s a catch 22 of stupidity.

The good news is that you can choose your response.

The Volcano Response AKA Looking Like a Complete Jack Ass

You could push your feelings down until your suppressed anger verbally erupts in dripping gobs of red, molten, fury. 

It would be SO satisfying. But afterwards, you will feel like a total jackass for one big reason.

Emotionally stable people do not yell at someone for run-of-the-mill stupid behavior. 

You will feel like a jerk and doubt your own sanity. Which is wise because of what I just said about emotionally stable people. 

The Fight or Flight Response AKA Getting the Hell Out of Dodge

Another option would be that when you become annoyed beyond your ability to respond civilly, you remove yourself from the situation.

Take a walk, go to the restroom, ANYTHING to physically remove yourself from that situation. Make physical distance so you can have mental space to calm down and get perspective. Save yourself from saying something you regret.

The (Sort of) Emotionally Evolved Response AKA Taking the High Road to Avoid the Idiots on the Low Road 

The more time you spend engaging with the people who annoy you, the more time you spend engaging with the people who annoy you.

If you are interacting with lots of people that push your buttons in your field, maybe it’s time to find a new career. 

When a new client asks how to handle their frustrating colleagues, most of the time it’s because their career is out of sync with their personality. 

You can give yourself a promotion and decide that you’re ready to evolve in your career. For help, check out my book, Job Hack: The Quick and Easy-to-use Guide to Finding and Getting the Job You Want.

There are annoying people in every field, but I guarantee that if you work in a field with people that have similar values, your relationships with your coworkers and clients will be much easier.

If you don’t want to work with clowns, don’t join the circus.

The Even MORE Emotionally Evolved Response AKA Taking the High Road for Real

The truth is that annoying people are actually giving you opportunities to grow into a better version of yourself. 

No matter what their viewpoint or behavior is, everyone is worthy of love and acceptance. Cliché, right? But true. We are all doing the best we can with whatever knowledge and resources we have right now. 

It isn’t even really about idiots and smart people. It’s more often about your tendency to see people with your personality type as right and people with a different personality type as wrong. 

I know you don’t want to hear this, but sometimes YOU are the idiot. Yep, you. So pass around forgiveness if you want some coming back your way.

You can choose to focus on anger and negative experiences and they will multiply in your life. 

You can choose to focus on acceptance and positive experiences and THEY will multiply in your life. 

You can get extra-credit deep and ask, “What is this person showing me that I need to change in order to be more at ease in relating to people?”

You can take responsibility for your frustration rather than blaming your reaction on someone else. 

You can respect and hold your power even when surrounded by emotional chaos.

You can evolve (slowly) into that person you really want to be – someone whose nerves are a tiny bit less “workable” than yesterday.

In the meantime, take a deep breath.  

And don’t forget your coffee.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me which one of the above responses YOU usually use and why. Does it work out for you? Let me know in the comments.

If you liked this, SUBSCRIBE + SHARE with someone it can help. They’ll LOVE you for it!