How to Deal with Jerks at Work

They're out there.  You know them.  I  bet the minute you read that headline, a person  came to mind for you.  That's right.... a "Work Jerk."  Someone who puts the "i" in "team" at your place of employment.  Here's a few different tactics for dealing with Jerks at Work. 

1)  Out Jerk Them

You might be thinking "what kind of a blog is this?" but... hear me out.  A lot of times when you are the noob on a team (especially a sales team) the initial jerkiness is really just a test of your strength as a peer.  

Let me give you an example.  I have an awesome family member who works in sales and she was brought in as a senior on a sales team.  One of the more junior members of the team (and... you guessed it, a dude...) who reported in to her suggested that he should get the largest office because he had been with the company the longest.   She looked him dead in the eye and said "When you can bill more than me, you get the big office.  Until then, I will work in there and continue to out perform you."  

You see, sometimes addressing the jerkiness right off the bat is a way to establish your place and power in an organization.  Don't be inappropriate, but stand firm in the face of Work Jerks. 

2) Empathize 

Most people want to be liked and want to fit in.  If someone is acting in a way that makes both of those things impossible, then there is a reason.  Without going into an entire recap of Psychology 101, usually the reason is fear or insecurity.  

If you have the wherewithal to see past the Jerkiness into the original fear, then you can diffuse the office jerk by making them feel more comfortable. 

Here's an example.  A finance team is changing ERP systems and there is that ONE person who just can't get on board with the project.  They keep finding errors in the new system or they won't get their deliverables completed in time for the roll out.  Turns out, this person is terrified that the new technology is going to streamline them right out of a job.  Spending some time making that person feel appreciated might diffuse the jerkiness all together. 

3) Swerve

Some people are chronically unhappy.  I have a saying that I say in my head a lot and it goes like this:  "Avoid the unhappy and unlucky."  

If you associate too much with the super negative Nancy in the office, then people will assume you agree with her.  They will associate her negativity with you and it will stick to you.  You may think you're helping, but Nancy doesn't want help.  She wants to be negative.  Let Nancy steer her own Titanic into her own iceberg.  



--- written by a former Work Jerk