In case you haven’t noticed, the New Year is a time for reflection and introspection, as each of us set new resolutions to change our lives for the better. This type of self-improvement can take many forms, and as an example I spent the first half of January reviewing and installing productivity apps on my iPhone to create a more efficient daily schedule.

While many of us look to make changes in our lives at the beginning of each year, however, it is also possible to seek inspiration in the people and things that surround us. Your friends can be tremendous sources of knowledge and learning, for example, even those who have been known to drive you to very edge of frustration with their sarcastic barbs!

5 Benefits of having friends that annoy you

In fact, having friends who engage in playful, sarcastic can be extremely beneficial, while they can also have a highly positive influence on your life. Here are five of the main advantages interacting with your most sarcastic and mischievous friends!

1. Sarcastic friends can improve your creativity with sarcasm

While this may sound like a stretch, there is scientific evidence which suggests that associating with annoying and sarcastic people can actually make you more creative. More specifically, laboratory studies have proven that the use of sarcasm triggers direct interaction with others while stimulating the creative segment of the brain, which in turn helps both parties deliver increasingly inventive and cutting exchanges.

So, although it is often described as the lowest form of wit, sarcasm may actually be indicative of the type of exalted creative intelligence that can be used to stimulate others. I therefore try to embrace these barbed exchanges with friends and appreciate the fact that they help to maintain my mental sharpness.

2. Sarcastic friends encourage you to be open-minded

There have been other studies on the impact of sarcasm too, including initial investigations which deemed that sarcasm tends to make even neutral and generic statements sound critical. Given this and the fact that we are more likely to engage with individuals who share a particular viewpoint or respond positively to us as individuals, it is easy to see how we can quickly distance ourselves from even close friends who enjoy nothing more than the occasional, sarcastic exchange.

Interestingly, studies actually suggest that we are more inclined to find sarcasm more damning that literal statements. This is counterproductive in the extreme, and instead we should consider how easy it is to misinterpret sarcastic statements that may actually have merit or be intended as positive comments. In this respect, interacting with our sarcastic friends (no matter how annoying) can encourage you to become more open-minded and responsive to those around you.

3. Sarcastic friends can make you more ambitious

Did you know that Pablo Picasso was only able to create his defining masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’Avignon due to an ongoing rivalry with French revolutionary Henri Matisse? Picasso, irked by Matisse’ clear disregard for artistic norms and diametrically opposed personality, was driven to greater heights of attainment purely by annoyance and a desire to best his rival. The two often exchanged pointed barbs throughout their lives, as they continued to clash and use each other to further their careers.

There was a mutual respect between the two, while some experts claim that they also had a friendship during the formative period of their artistic lives. This simply underlines how successful peers and friends who are adroit at delivering sarcastic (but light-hearted) put-downs can serve as an inspiration in life, as we strive to achieve more and create greater ammunition for spontaneous, cutting exchanges in the future.

4. Sarcastic friends make us better communicators

Being a good communicator is a crucial life-skill to possess, but this is something that you must be able to apply consistently across all walks of life and individual platforms. While it may be easier to communicate with individuals who deliver their ideas in a similar manner to us, the true art of interaction lies in learning to process viewpoints regardless of how they are presented or communicated by others.

This brings us on to another sarcasm study, which revealed that this type of humor can be easily misinterpreted when it is communicated electronically. This study showed that while 73% of respondents were able to successfully distinguish between serious and sarcastic voice messages, for example, just 56% managed to do so when reviewing emails. With this and the rising prominent of electronic communication firmly in mind, it is clear that an appreciation for sarcasm and our mischievous friends makes us far better communicators in the modern age.

5. Sarcastic friends help us to know when to draw the line

There is no doubt that our sarcastic friends can be considered as fun, thanks primarily to their spontaneity and willingness to irk others in the pursuit of comedy. Personally, I have also reveled in instances where my most sarcastic friends have pushed the boundaries too far with individuals who do not know them well, causing them to back-pedal furiously and apologise with increased desperation. This underlines just how negatively sarcasm can be taken out of context, as fun and light-hearted comments are presumed to be cutting insults.

It also has the added benefit of helping us to learn from the mistakes of others, especially in terms of knowing when to draw the line with good-natured, sarcastic barbs. More specifically, I have learned to restrict my sarcastic comments to people who I understand and know well, while also treading carefully when respecting the boundaries of new friends and colleagues. Research confirms that sarcastic statements are interpreted differently depending on the level of trust that exists within a relationship, and this is a key thing to remember when meeting new people.

Featured photo credit: Gabriel Saldana / Flickr via flickr.com

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