Have Jerks Really Taken over the Workplace?

Nearly every day I read a story about jerks at the office. Not to sound like Andy Rooney, but did you ever wonder if we really know a jerk when we see one?

A recent employee survey cited examples of annoying or unacceptable co-worker behavior, such as eating the cheese off the pizza box or drinking from a child’s sippy cup during a meeting. While these might be uncouth or immature, they’re really just minor irritants. It’s best to let them roll off your back. That way you can save your energy for taking on the real jerks, who want to sabotage your career.

I happen to agree with author Ben Leichtling, who calls out toxic co-worker behaviors in a recent blog post. He says jerks:

Are selfish and narcissistic – it’s always about them; only their interpretations and feelings matter.  Only their interpretations are true.

Are sneaky, manipulative, back-stabbing stealth bullies.

Are over-reactive, control freaks – their interpretations give them permission to search and destroy, no matter how slight or unintentional the insult.  They throw fits and attack or embarrass people they’re upset at.

Act sweet one time only to pry out people’s secrets and look for the opportunity to strike back even more.  Remember, they’re acting polite doesn’t mean they’re nice.

Will openly lie and deny it. They’re always 100% convinced and convincing.

Relentlessly disparage, demean, spy on and report "bad" conduct (often made up) about their targets.

Leichtling advocates no mercy for, well, jerks like these and lays out an action plan.

I take a strong approach: Recognize evil and recognize crazy or out of control people who won’t negotiate or compromise.

Divide your response into two areas:

Will – determination, perseverance, resilience, endurance, grit.

Skill – overall strategy, tactics and the ability to maintain your poise and carry out your plan.

Do you work with jerks? Is the problem getting worse? How do you deal with them?

— Leslie Stevens-Huffman

One Response to “Have Jerks Really Taken over the Workplace?”

  1. Lucretia Slaughter

    Well first of all you recognize that if you are dealing with a jerk, then there are also some serious management problems intact that have allowed this individual to exhibit this behavior and get away with it. Look beyond that individual and up the chain of command for the solution is what I would do. Especially if they have the ability to sabatoge your career. Lesson learned is don’t go it alone if at all possible. This is a form of economic warfare and make sure you have on your full set of armour.