The older I get, the more and more crazy people I seem to come across. I’m telling you there’re everywhere! Every day I pass by at least ten to fifteen crazy bums on my commute. They tend to congregate on public benches and along empty lots, or just wander around aimlessly on foot. But there are plenty of non-homeless crazy people too. And I happen to work with several of them! I’m sure you do too. So just why are there so many crazy people at work and in the world, and what can we do about it?
Nature vs Nurture
If you walk into the nursery at any hospital you’d never imagine that one of those babies could grow up to become a social pariah, terrible coworker, or homeless person. But it happens all the time. Babies come into the world innocent and sweet, yet all sorts of things can go wrong that turn them into bullies, weirdos, manic depressives, and bad communicators.
Whatever the true ratio of influence there is between nature vs nurture on our personalities and behaviors, scientists and psychologists will be arguing both sides of this debate for decades more to come. Sure there are studies that show separated twins have remarkable similarities in personality and interests, but there’s no 100% clear cut explanation as to why. And it’s impossible to measure if their upbringings and environments were too variant or similar to justify the accuracy of those studies.
Personally I think there is always going to be a bit of both, with more influence coming from nurture. Sure we inherit genes that determine our health and physical appearance, which certainly have an affect on our personality and disposition, and a lot of mental illnesses run in families. But I think the manner in which our parents or guardians teach, support, and discipline us have a much bigger impact on our mental wellbeing, attitude towards life, social skills, and willingness to learn and develop. Plus the environments in which we grow up also have psychological weight on our emotions and perspectives.
What Causes People To Go Crazy?
Although we have no control over our genes or who our families are, there are ways that we work towards reducing the amount of bullying, negativity, social disruption, and craziness out there. The first step is identifying the primary causes that lead to many of these problems in the first place. Here are just a few:
- Low self esteem
- Peer pressure
- No self control
- Drug addiction
- Mental illness
How Do We Stop Craziness From Spreading?
Even as incredible and advanced as technology has become, it doesn’t have the ability to magically help us all get along better or improve our behaviors. A lot of people, myself included, believe that all this technology actually makes us worse at communicating because we’re so attached to devices that we don’t know how to interact or socialize with other people anymore. We’re losing the abilities of patience and focus.
Feeling ignored or unimportant when someone is texting or emailing right in front of you may seem harmless, but it can do a lot of damage over time. Relationships need focused communication without constant distractions. I do my best to be present when I’m spending time with someone by putting down my phone and being a better listener. And even though it’s not always easy, I’m constantly trying to improve communication at work and in my personal life. The way we interact with one another has a major impact on our emotions and motivations, so I really aim to be supportive and kind every day and encourage you to do the same.
If you’re a parent, teacher, or coach I’m sure you spend a lot of time and energy teaching your kids manners and how to communicate and interact with others. Please keep up the hard work because your efforts do make a difference! The younger we can learn communication and behavioral skills, the better off we will be in life and at work down the road. I sure wish my parents spent more time ingraining those types of skills in me when I was a kid because it took a long time for me to come out of my shell and get comfortable in social situations. I wouldn’t classify myself as crazy because of that, but I was definitely seen and treated as an outsider and awkward person because of that for many years.
How To Handle Crazy People At Work
Fortunately most of the people I’ve had to work closely with over the years have been supportive, hard working individuals that are easy to talk to. But I’ve had to deal with plenty of crazy coworkers and clients in my career with super short fuses, horrible communication skills, and awkward habits. It’s really freaky how some people can completely change personalities from super manic to extremely apologetic within the same conversation. And it’s intimidating having someone start yelling over the phone over the smallest thing and hang up on you. And then other people are hypocritical or super quirky that it feels like pulling teeth trying to talk to them.
Believe it or not I’ve had to deal with all of these crazy situations. And the best way I’ve learned to deal with people like this is patience. Additionally, empathy, kindness, and documenting their actions have also been really helpful. If you think they’re crazy, chances are a lot of other people do too. And often times just having the right documentation is all that’s needed to give those crazy coworkers and clients the boot.
But do keep in mind that sometimes craziness is just temporary and caused from a lot of stress or emotional personal issues. We all have had days when we just weren’t ourselves, and just needed time to get back to normal. So showing support and asking if they need help up front can go a long way.
Spread Happiness And Support
No matter how technologically advanced our world becomes, we will never be able to eliminate the need for personal interaction, kindness, and support. It actually makes it more important that we continue improving our own methods of communication and teaching our youth these valuable skills.
Even the littlest random acts of kindness can turn someone’s entire day around and prevent them from going postal or doing something crazy. So next time before you get angry or snippy with someone, try being more patient and nice instead. The more happiness and support we can spread, the less craziness there will be at work and in the world!
Untemplaters, are there are a lot of crazy people where you work and live? What are some of the worst things you’ve had to deal with from a crazy coworker, client, or random person before? What are your thoughts on why are there so many crazy people at work and in the world?
Great subject and post. If I may add this thought: there is a certain type of person who enjoys the power of behaving unpredictably, and outside the constraints of productive or professional behavior. It can be very passive-aggressive, something as simple as a tone of voice or getting in your personal space.
For the person trying to accomplish a project, task, transaction, etc., it is good business to take the person and communication (e, phone, in person) at face value. But the person who values seizing power over another person doesn’t have to accomplish anything except get the other person upset, or deny them the ability to complete the project. That is what represents their success. And there is no way to identify this, until a behavior pattern emerges over time.
A great book, that I wish I read 25 years ago, is “Am I The Only Sane One Working Here?” by Albert Bernstein. Real, practical solutions for getting past this crazy behavior and on to the work itself. Keeping good thoughts for everyone, as we navigate the obstacles of other people’s crazy behavior.
Tie the Money Knot says
The ones that are quite dangerous are the nut cases who are normal enough to get a good job and have a good career, but still crazy enough to make the lives of coworkers or employees a living hell. On purpose. There are certainly people like this in many workplaces.
My practice is to try to stay away from such people as much as possible! Not always feasible, but I try to do my best not to get derailed.
Totally agree, being patient and nice – and showing kindness toward others – is a nice way to really make a positive difference in the world.
Yeah those type of people are the worst and are best avoided. It sucks that some people are mean and spiteful deliberately. Not letting them get to us is one of the ways to get them to stop and totally takes a lot of patience.
Bobby @ Ban Excuses says
I saw someone the other day walking around with a parakeet on her shoulder as if it was just a normal day.
The crazies are definitely everywhere though. Sometimes crazy people are able to find new solutions to problems because they think differently. So…. as annoying as they are, it may be beneficial to have people who think outside of the norm (even if it does seem impossible to work with some of these folks at times)
That’s a nice positive way to look at it!
I haven’t seen people with parakeets here but I have seen a several people walking cats on leashes lol.
The part I loved about your post was “No matter how technologically advanced our world becomes, we will never be able to eliminate the need for personal interaction, kindness, and support.” At the end of the day, people are what makes the world work. Investing in our relationships and nurturing even the smallest links yield great returns for society and ourselves. I mean investing as in putting in the time and effort to relate to each other as human beings, with compassion, grace, and humor.
Thanks Anj! Every little bit counts.
Jeremy Noel Johnson says
Sydney, I have to ask, where did you get that picture? It is such a cool/funny picture – love the parrots, shorts, and all of that in a nice clean computer store – Apple I think?
The way I cope with crazy people is I understand that at times, I’m a bit crazy myself and do things where I wonder what the heck was wrong with me. When I see others acting a bit crazy, I just laugh and say they have the crazy bug at the moment and it will probably be my turn some time in the future 🙂
Haha, I saw that guy with the parrots on a trip to Honolulu. And yes he walked into an Apple store and I couldn’t resist taking his picture. It was really funny how crazy he looked surfing the web in his bathing suit, barefoot, with two squawking parrots just chillin’ on his shoulders.
Laughter is certainly a great approach to the crazies we all go through and observe!
Edward Antrobus says
It wasn’t actually AT work, but I was walking from our gated parking area to the office (back at my last office job in 2006) and a homeless woman asked me for a light. I don’t and have never smoked and told her I didn’t have anything. She called me a liar and started following me insisting that I light her cigarette!
omg lol. I’m sure that wasn’t funny at the time but it’s hard not to laugh hearing that story. I once was in line at the post office and there was a woman in front of me. Her turn in line came but she didn’t move. I made the mistake of lightly tapping her on the shoulder to get her attention and tell her it was her turn. She started screaming “get your hands off me!!!! @(*#&$(*&” blah blah blah with a bunch of obscenities. I was in such total shock and taken aback at the time but looking back I can laugh about it now lol. I found out once I got to the counter that she was actually a crazy homeless woman who had been standing there for hours and refused to move. The post office employees were waiting for the cops to show up and take her away. At least they could have warned me!
I think they can be the most interesting, however I will in most cases stay away from them. I often see some children in my classes that may be raised differently or badly and act out in my classes. It is one of the challenges of teaching.
Yeah I imagine you must see quite a range of behaviors, personalities, and upbringing differences as a teacher. There was a lot of income disparity at the schools I went to and it did have an impact on how a lot of the kids acted towards others and themselves.
John S @ Frugal Rules says
I can so relate to this and just had to laugh when I read the title. I think we all have had our fair share of dealing with “crazies” and you see even more of them when you’ve worked in customer service. Being a parent of little ones this really hits home with me as I think a lot of it can be helped in what/how you teach your kids to communicate and show respect. I think some of the craziness might go back to people not knowing how to communicate well and are just left to themselves. Hopefully by raising kids to communicate nicely & respectfully these kinds of things can be mitigated.
Oh man there definitely is exposure to crazies in customer service. It takes so much patience to deal with angry and crazy customers too.
Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says
You’ve forgotten the largest influence of all: Personal choice. This is why most children of felons don’t grow up to be felons themselves, and many victims of child abuse aren’t abusers. We all have the ability to make choices about our own behavior, and good choices lead to good results, and bad ones to bad results.
Financial Samurai says
That picture is hilarious! I just want to pet the parrots.
I’m not sure if there are so many crazy people, or that they stand out more from the crowd which is why we think there are so many? San Francisco sure has its fair share of mentally unstable folks, and I’m wondering if it’s mostly just genetics.
If I was crazy, I’d want to go to nicer climate areas like California and Hawaii, just as I am now. So maybe I am crazy. Or maybe folks who are willing to bear the frigid cold and muggy summers are the real crazy ones??
I haven’t come across crazy folks at work yet. Angry, competitive, and vindictive, yes. Crazy… not yet.
Yeah the guy in that pic turned a LOT of heads lol. It’s like Pirates of the Caribbean meets the workplace.
I think SF definitely has more crazy people than most big cities. Every time I travel domestically or abroad and come back here it’s always a shock how they’re everywhere. Maybe it’s too much medical weed, dunno.
It’s so hard working with someone who’s mentally unstable. One person I’ve had to deal with can’t handle any type of stress or conflict at work because they literally start to panic and lose all rational means of communication. Trying to describe it doesn’t even come close to how crazy they get. It’s super unproductive and frustrating.
Edward Antrobus says
Hey, I went from a place with muggy summers to a place with frigid cold winters! 😀
Wait, does that dispute your hypothesis or confirm it?