Your Coworkers are Driving you Nuts :: This Word Picture Will Tell you Why

coworkers driving you nuts feature image

Your coworkers are driving you nuts.

Perhaps it is a familiar scene at work—he does something that seems ignorant, foolish or flat out strange. You scratch your head and turn the other way, or worse, you shut him out as kinda out-there and unhelpful.

It is completely acceptable in your mind. He is driving you nuts, and it is distracting the team from hitting the goal or getting to the best outcome.

Or so you think.

What if there is something you cannot see?

Research says that this is most definitely the case. The thing you are missing is internal and invisible.

Strengths Bus Infographic

Why Your Coworkers are Driving You Nuts

Your coworkers are so dumbfounding because you cannot hear what is going on inside of them.

It seems obvious—of course we cannot see what is inside their head—but time and again, we act as though we can.

When something does not seem right to us or we cannot make sense of it, we fill in the gaps. It is in our nature.

The authors of the best-selling book and philosophy on effective interpersonal problem solving, Crucial Confrontations, say we are masters at writing our own stories to explain others’ behavior. But the problem is, we are not great storytellers.

Most often, our stories are flat-out wrong.

Similarly, in 1990, a young psychology graduate of Stanford University, Elizabeth Newton, ran an experiment that demonstrated two simple yet powerful truths:

  1. Based on someone’s outward behavior, you cannot deduce what is going on inside their mind to create that behavior. The participants were only 2.5% accurate in coming up with the appropriate “story” to describe the behavior.
  2. Both parties end up extremely perplexed with each other. The person with the behavior cannot understand why their partner is not understanding him/her. The partner thinks the behavior is strange and irrational.

The same thing is happening when your coworker is driving you nuts.

A Word Picture that Explains the Crazy

When your coworker is driving you nuts, often times, there is a Talent at work in them. Yes, a Talent.

Yet, because our Talents are internal and invisible, the Talent is expressed as an idiosyncrasy instead of an understood Strength…and it is driving you nuts!

Here is a light-hearted word picture that explains how this could possibly be the case:

Imagine you pull out of your neighborhood and head along your usual route to work. As you pull up to the stoplight along your way, you notice some commotion in the car next to you.

When you look over, you see that there is a man in the driver’s seat who appears to be singing his heart out. You look around within the car to see who might be with him, but the passenger seats are empty.

You can’t help but stare as he uses his steering wheel to put on the show of a century. He’s tapping his hands wildly, moving his lips emphatically, and seems to be very much enjoying his concert to an audience of one.

As he bangs out his song beat on his steering wheel, you squint to try to make out what he is singing. You can’t read his lips, and the beat he’s making is not falling into place for you.

You think he looks non-sensical, bizarre, and perhaps even a bit off-his-rocker.

As the light turns green and you drive off, you think how crazy that driver must be and you write him off as such.

The next day, it is sunny and warm. As you drive out of your neighborhood, you roll down your window to bask in the warmth of the morning.

Surprisingly, when you pull up to the stoplight, the same driver pulls up next to you, putting on the same car-concert.

This time, however, he has his window rolled down, too.

Just like yesterday, he beats wildly on his steering wheel. But this time, it doesn’t seem so crazy. In fact, it seems quite fun, interesting, and perhaps even valuable because…

…you can hear him.

He bangs and he sings, just like yesterday, but now you can hear what is going on inside his car, and now both of you enjoy this mini morning concert on your ride to work.

The same driver was putting on the same car-concert both days. But the difference on the second day??—you could hear what was happening inside his car. It wasn’t just erratic, strange behavior, rather, knowing the song inside the car made sense of the beat on the steering wheel. Then, all of a sudden, the previously crazy behavior now did not look so bizarre.

roll windows down sf + ss

Bring Talent to the External to Stop Them From Driving You Crazy

Those coworkers who are driving you crazy at work are like the driver with his windows sealed tight.

You see their behavior, but you can’t hear their song.

So, instead of getting value and joy from the interaction, all you get is frustration and a muddled, incomplete understanding.

Only when you roll down the window on their behavior can you make sense of their decisions or suggestions or processes, and begin to appreciate it for the music that it is.

Just like the singer in the car, when you roll down that window, you just might discover not lunacy, but Talent.

At work {and at home too for that matter!}, we will all enjoy each other and our work more when we bring Talent out from the internal and invisible to the external and visible.

Here are two ways you can start to roll down the window on the Talent around you {and turn their crazy into Talent}

1 :: Best Vacation Ever activity.

Use 5-10 minutes of your next meeting to ask one of your team members about their best vacation ever. From the vacation description, drill down to the best day on the vacation, and the best moment in that day. As you all listen, ask them about what made it so great, what they were thinking about, and what they were feeling. Ask them if they have ever used any of those thoughts or feelings in something they have done at work. Explore and make observations together…as you do, you’ll see patterns of Talent emerge.

2 :: Use the StrengthsFinder.

Gallup has spent decades researching the internal patterns of thought, feeling and behavior that make up Talent. The StrengthsFinder uses common, simple language to get extremely specific about where your natural Talents lie. Try it for yourself and for your team! You can do that by clicking right here.

Whichever way you draw the invisible out to the visible, remember that the crazy you’re seeing might just be a beautiful song on the inside!



Links & Resources from today

ITV 9 | Internal and Invisible, Tribute to Curt Liesveld
StrengthsFinder+ Strengths Startup
Strengths on the Bus FREE Infographic
Crucial Confrontations
The Curse of Knowledge


The Strengths-perspective can impact your marriage, your parenting, and your work!

If you’re into it or you’re just not so sure about it all, reach out, and let’s connect about it. You can catch me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, all at @isogostrong, by this handy contact form, or in our Energy Up Frustration Down facebook group.

Enjoy your day, and {be strong}!

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