How to Make People Crazy


When the people we love or with whom we have a deep connection stop caring, stop paying attention, stop investing, and stop fighting for the relationship, trust begins to slip away and hurt starts seeping in. Disengagement triggers shame and our greatest fears - the fears of being abandoned, unworthy, and unloveable. What can make this covert betrayal so much more dangerous than something like a lie or an affair is that we can't point to the source of our pain - there's no event, no obvious evidence of brokenness. It can feel crazy-making. -Brene' Brown, Daring Greatly

I tell extremely long stories. In my defense, I do think my long stories have a point - I like to give people context, paint the whole picture, if you will. Nevertheless, I will gladly own up to this tendency, as it can be tedious to the people closest to me. I have found that nothing shuts a story down faster than someone who is outwardly disengaged. If you start to look at your phone, give me a passive nod, and people watch out the car window, I get it. I'm done. Time to come up for air, Griffin.

We practice this kind of disengagement daily. We cut someone off at the end of their sentence, flip the channel as soon as a show gets stale, and open up a new webpage when we are tired of what we're reading. Our culture is unbelievably adept at checking out. In one of my leadership courses, we had a huge discussion about authentic listening and how, to truly listen to someone, you can't be thinking of your response while they are still talking. You need to sit back, let them explain, and process everything they've said before your respond. How often do any of us actually practice real listening?

As Brene' Brown eloquently wrote, disengagement is the source of a great deal of unnamed pain in our culture. If you look at the problems in your personal relationships, your interactions with your coworkers, or your poor communication with your boss, you probably can trace them down to a few key points: you don't feel understood and you don't feel cared about. When these emotions begin to surface, the natural thing to do is disengage even more.

Let's look specifically at the workplace. If we disengage with our coworkers, our ability to collaborate as a team will become a moot point. If we disengage with our employer when we are asked to do something we disagree with or our employees when they don't share our passion as an owner or founder, we rob ourselves of the ability to create company culture. We don't get freebies - you can't choose to engage some of the time. Engagement is not an action, it is a lifestyle. You can't be disengaged in certain relationships and fully engaged in others. The way you treat one friend will be indicative of the way you treat another. If you live life this way, you will end up having far less relationships than you started with.

Practice consistency to be consistent. Build habits to form habits. Isolating yourself and disengaging will make the people who care about you crazy, but only for a while. Eventually, they will get the point and let go altogether. People are resilient, but you can't spend your life disengaged and expect a different response in return.