How to Deal With Irrational and Impossible People

talking to crazy

You’re CRAZY!

Have a manipulating boss driving you nuts?

Is a co-worker bullying you?

Do you have someone irrational or deceitful in your life?

You’ve tried explaining, tried rationalizing, tried…everything…and still, you get nowhere.


What do you do when you are talking to CRAZY?


“To reach irrational people, you need to know why they’re irrational.” –Mark Goulston


Enter acclaimed psychiatrist Mark Goulston with the answers. Mark’s new book Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People In Your Life is a guidebook to dealing with the impossible people that cross your path. His suggestions can be put to work immediately. I know because I did. And they work.

Recently, I asked Dr. Goulston about his exceptional new book and his practical observations and suggestions in dealing with difficult people.


“Life is beautiful but people are crazy.” –Charles Osgood


We Are All A Little Nuts

When a psychiatrist says “We’re all at least a little nuts,” it gets my attention. How are we all a bit crazy? What’s the best way for us to identify our major issues and weaknesses?TalkingToCrazy

We’re all a bit crazy because we all engage at times in non-rational, non-functional self-preservation (a.k.a. our identity).  That means that when the reality of what we are dealing with changes, we will often continue to “do the same things over and over, expecting different results.” The reason for that is because in an increasingly specialized world, the areas in which we feel competent, confident and in control are increasingly narrow. That translates into trying to stay inside those areas rather than adapting to the new situation facing us. By the way, I don’t see “crazy” people as mentally ill.  I have great compassion for and spent 30+ years treating people with significant mental illness, because they truly cannot stop acting the way they do until that mental illness – depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, etc. – is treated.  To me crazy people are people who can control their behavior, but choose not to.  In essence they abuse or take advantage of their relationships. They drive us crazy vs. being truly mentally ill.


“Being crazy isn’t enough.” –Dr. Seuss


I was incredibly moved by Mr. Harding’s story during your residency. What did this teach you?

It taught me not to jump to conclusions or be overly influenced by others before I gather all the information I can from the other person. That means patiently taking the time to truly understand and go to “their there” before I try to fit them into “my here.”


“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.” –
Alfred Adler


Lean Into Crazy

25 Quotes to Encourage You Through The Storm

View of storm seascape

If you are going through one of life’s storms or what seems like an unending valley, you may not feel like you will ever experience a sunny day or a mountaintop again.  These quotes are designed to encourage you through it all.


“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” –Charles Bukowski


“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” –Emma Watson


“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.” –Corrie Ten Boom


“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you.” –John Green


“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald


“Strong people don’t put others down, they lift them up.” –Michael Watson


“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” –Buddha


“I breathe in my courage. I exhale my fear.” –Jonathan Huie


“You are being tested. And you know what they say my darling, being tested only makes you stronger.” –Downton Abbey


“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” –Bob Marley


“Don’t waste a minute not being happy. If one window closes, run to the next window—or break down a door.” –Brooke Shields

How to Build A Culture Primed to Perform

Primed to Perform

How do you create a culture that is primed to perform?

What does science say about changing organizational culture?

Is there any tool that can help measure and track your culture over time?


Build A Culture Designed to Perform

Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor have just written a book, Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation, that answers these questions and more. It is written as a guidebook for those who know how important a strong culture is, but they don’t know what steps to take to create one. I recently spoke with Neel and Lindsay to learn more.


“Culture is what tells your people why they should work.” -Doshi/McGregor


The Magic of a Great Culture

Often people think of culture as something that is like art, but you say that the “magic behind great culture is actually an elegantly simple science.” Tell us more about your research.

We all know that culture is important. We’ve felt it. Some cultures are filled with fear and stress, while others inspire creativity and enthusiasm. What has eluded us, however, is why. Our research provides an “elegantly simple” answer: culture is what tells your people why they should work, and why they work is what determines how well they work.

Here’s the kicker though: not all “whys” are created equal, and too often, cultures are designed to motivate using the destructive “whys.”

Our answer is not only elegantly simple, but also empirically powerful. Using our total motivation framework, we’ve measured the motives of over 20,000 people at more than 50 major institutions. We’ve observed an incredibly strong relationship between their culture and performance metrics like sales and customer experience. In one study, employees with high levels of total motivation (or ToMo for short) generated 38% more in revenues than their low ToMo counterparts.

Culture is an entirely quantifiable and engineerable asset—and the most important one. ToMo gives leaders the tools to unlock the highest levels of performance in their people and company.


“Why you work determines how well you work.” -Doshi/McGregor


Why You Work Determines How Well You Work

What is total motivation? How does this drive performance?

Total motivation is simply the notion that why you work determines how well you work. The effectiveness of the “why” depends on its distance from the work. Let’s take a mid-level management consultant for example:

Play is when you work for enjoyment of the work itself. Play is the most powerful motivator: twice as potent as purpose and almost three times more than potential. Our fearless consultant might enjoy conceptual thinking and the process of breaking down big puzzles into digestible, actionable pieces.

Purpose is when the outcome or impact of the work is why you do it: maybe she values seeing how a new strategy improves a client’s well-being and helps his customers.

Potential is when the work enables a future outcome aligned to your personal goals: she might want to manage operations at a big company or a company of her own down the line, and this job will help her achieve that.


“Culture can’t be managed by chance.” -Doshi/McGregor


How To Create An Optimistic Workplace

Optimistic Workplace

Make Work Happy

Do you want to create an optimistic workplace?

How does a strong purpose help in difficult times?

How do leaders set a positive leadership presence?


“The climate suffers when employees don’t believe their leader has their back.” –Shawn Murphy


My friend, author and speaker Shawn Murphy is the CEO & Founder of the leadership blog, Switch & Shift. His new book, The Optimistic Workplace, is a guide to creating and maintaining a powerful, positive, optimistic culture that creates results.

Previously, Shawn shared with us the powerful implications of positive, contagious emotions. I wanted to go deeper into the research for his new book, and so I asked Shawn to share more about the leadership insights he gained from decades of working with business leaders.


“Optimistic climates support employees’ exploration of purpose.” –Shawn Murphy


Find Your Purpose

I was fascinated by the research on eyeblinks. How does the eyeblink reflex relate to purpose?

Researchers used startle probes to measure the reflexive eyeblink caused by a stimulus, in the case of this research it was an image. The images ranged from positive, to neutral, to negative.

What researchers learned was the length of the eyeblink gave insight into the person’s emotional response to the pictures. The longer the eyeblink, the more unpleasant the response to the picture.

How this connects to purpose is that the researchers, Carol Ryff and team, found that those who had a clearer sense of purpose in life recovered faster from negative images. The research gets at a person’s resiliency. Purpose in life strengthens the core of our identity. The clearer our sense of purpose, the stronger our resiliency is; we can recover faster from negative stimulus in our life.

In a work context, we can summon our purpose to guide us through difficult times at work. It can also help us make better decisions, as purpose serves as a guide in decision making: Does this opportunity support my purpose?


“Resilience can be strengthened when a person has a sense of purpose.” –Shawn Murphy


Start Small to Cultivate Optimism

To cultivate optimism in the workplace, you say, “Start small,” and, “Forget about the ‘big bang.’” Most people who have a passion for culture want to jump right in with sweeping initiatives and major change. Why start small?

In my 20+ years as an organizational change management consultant and in leading change in my own company, I’ve learned that the big bang causes more confusion, comes across as rah-rah, and alienates people from what the change purpose and message is.


“Workplace optimism is the belief that good things will come from hard work.” –Shawn Murphy


So, rather go for broke, start small. Create a pocket of excellence. The change starts in a small group within the organization. The group is typically a supporter of the change. Let the small group experience success and gradually widen it to other pockets within the company.

Word of the success travels through networks of people. This approach organically builds support through achieved success and not through possible success. It’s the latter that is the focus of big bang change efforts. It’s what disillusions people about change efforts.


Research: You can transform the work experience by focusing on the best positive realities.