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Are you feeling like the world is a pretty crazy place right now?

You’re in good company.

If your life seems overrun by people who upend your schedule, create a lot of drama, or generally make the world a harder place to be, you’re surrounded by what author Julia Cameron calls “crazymakers.”

So let’s talk about it. Because there’s no value in a practice that has to be lived out on a mountain top. There’s no point in wishing someone love and light in the hall, then griping when they turn the corner. In the May series, Coping with Crazymakers, we’ll discover techniques to deal with challenging people.

I once knew a really smart guy in the music business who finally got the chance to run his own team at a multi-national company. It was an extraordinary opportunity; the artist roster was filled with cutting edge acts.

He had spent years climbing the ladder, moving from playing in a hit band to honing his business skills. Musicians trusted him on a business and artistic level. What’s more, they liked him.

In every way, he was The Boss.

There was just one problem: his new staff included Mr. Crazymaker.

Imagine his surprise when Mr. C was one of the first people to greet him. As The Boss unpacked his moving boxes, Mr. C proceeded to compliment him for 10 minutes straight, saying how much he respected his accomplishments and what an honor it was to work together.

That would have been a nice start. Unfortunately, The Boss knew otherwise; friends had repeated the string of nasty comments Mr. C had made about him.

Then Mr. C kept going – this time talking about himself. About how he never stopped working. How he was out in nightclubs searching for new acts every night until 2 AM. And then back at his desk at 9AM, ready to work.

That was a good story, too. Except The Boss knew Mr. C hadn’t signed an artist who made a hit record in quite a while. His track record was as bad as his attitude.

By that point, The Boss was ready to get on with his day. It was time to shut this crazy conversation down.

He quietly said, “You know what I’m doing while you’re out in those clubs every night? I’ve been to London several times this year. I’m in New York on a regular basis. I’ve even been on vacation with some of the biggest bands at my former label, helicopter skiing or on the beach in Hawaii… And I’m still having a better career than you are.”

You instinctively know what is fact or fiction. You also know what to do next. That’s the power tool of discernment. But it only works if you follow your gut.

It’s simple: listening with compassion is mandatory.

Buying into someone else’s crazy world view? Getting into a war of words? Well, those things are optional.

And the next time someone starts derailing your day with wild stories, try redirecting the conversation. Just ask them, “You know what I’m doing…while you’re doing that?”