Whether you are an Executive, Manager or Employee, you will at some point in your career utter these 8 little words; "The guy (or gal) I work with is a jerk."
And because you are smart and have your wits about you, you have figured out there is no changing the jerk. That guy was a jerk in high school and he'll be a jerk in the retirement home. Jerks be jerks, after all.
But how to deal with him? How do you work alongside and collaborate? How do you avoid being drawn into his world without cutting yourself off from important opportunities and benefits?
The first order of business is to identify your brand of jerk. Is he mean spirited and judgmental? Does he say things to "get your goat" or to "test" you? Will he interrupt you in meetings and attempt to make you look bad by with-holding information?
Does working with him put you back in a middle school mindset? Much like the "mean girls" you dealt with in middle school, he seems to have nothing better to do than "mess" with people. Yeah, that guys a jerk.
So what to do?
1. Give that guy a taste of his own medicine.
2. Tell everyone that hasn't already heard, that he is a jerk.
3. Ignore him.
4. Try to win him over.
5. Tie his shoelaces together.
It might be worth doing #5 for the fun of it, but frankly - none of these options are going to get you want you want.
Thankfully, you can be happy working with a jerk. You can go to work without feeling like you need to avoid him or hide under your desk when he walks by. Hold your head up high my friend, there is help!
Coach Me Quick tips for Disarming the Jerk at the Office:
1. Decide what you want out of your relationship with the jerk. Currently he has the upper hand because he is framing your relationship. If you are clearly committed to a courteous and collaborative relationship, that will be much more powerful than his commitment to "messing" with you.
2. Remember that the jerk's behavior has nothing to do with you. This is a hard one to believe, but whatever he says or does is ALL about him and his perspective.
3. Once you understand that his behavior is not about you, you are free to observe him as you would a two year old who is in the middle of a tantrum. Be empathetic. It really is worse to be him, than you.
4. Practice a non-reactive approach. Your reaction is his fuel. Cut off the supply.
5. Understand that your ability to stay calm and grounded around his behavior will begin to change his behavior. You and he are in a dance. Change the steps and the dancing stops.
Jerks are here to teach us something new about ourselves. It's not always pretty - but the results can be astounding!