Most of us have had the misfortune of working alongside a jerk. And not just someone who is irritating or a pain to work with, but a real jerk--that truly annoying person who repeatedly says or does something that makes your temper flare and your skin crawl. Think the backstabber in the office or the co-worker who is constantly taking credit for something good you did--the jerk who is a perfect angel when the boss is around, but shows his or her true, nasty colors as soon as the boss is gone.
Sound all too familiar?
Putting up with a jerk in the workplace can cause an awful lot of stress. A recent study showed that 75 percent of all Americans report feeling stressed on the job--costing U.S. employers more than $300 billion a year in absenteeism, lower productivity, medical expenses, employee turnover, and more. And guess who causes a lot of this stress? You're right: all those office jerks.
Just say no to the office jerks in your life by putting these 5 hacks to work for you.
1. Give a not-so-jolly message.
It is a normal response to ignore the office jerk to avoid confrontation--in fact, 95 percent of workers try to do just that. But avoiding the problem doesn't solve it. Confront the offending person by pointing out those things they do that are keeping you from getting your job done--set boundaries. However you choose to confront the office jerk, keep it professional and nice. No name calling, raised voices, or blaming.
2. Create a united front.
There is power in numbers. Everyone, including the office jerk, should meet to come up with appropriate office behavior rules--no finger pointing allowed. There will be far more value attached to the rules when everyone is involved in choosing them and the office jerk will be less likely to feel personally attacked.
3. Leaders must take a stand.
Get a higher-up to step up and remind and enforce proper behavior in the office and hold accountable those who are not following the rules of conduct. If you have a boss who seems oblivious to such issues (this happens far too often), you need to speak to him or her about what behaviors you have been seeing that are inappropriate. Speak for yourself, not for others (unless others would like to join you in speaking with the boss) and refrain from mentioning the office jerk's name (this is not a bash-the-office-jerk session). Simply state that the staff needs a reminder about appropriate behavior and the need for accountability for unethical, office jerk behavior.
4. When the boss is the office jerk, watch out!
Far more disruptive than a co-worker's being an office jerk is when your boss is the biggest jerk of all. A staggeringly high percentage of bosses are jerks who have no clue of the impact their behavior has on their staff until it's too late. The best way to open your boss's eyes to his or her jerkiness is a group meeting. Create a united front--get other disgruntled employees involved. Before the meeting with your boss, meet and write down those things that are driving employees out the door to new jobs and then bring the boss in--once again keeping it professional. Frequently an errant boss will be completely surprised by how his or her behavior has impacted the group and will apologize for bad behavior and then change for the better.
5. Head to HR or quit.
A very small percentage of bosses will simply refuse to change their behavior, at which point asking your human resources department for help may be necessary. If all else fails, find a new place to work where employees are appreciated and supported. It's definitely worth the switch, potentially decreasing your stress and adding a few more years to your life!