There's always that one person in every office we just cannot stand. They're always the one cracking crude jokes, inappropriately speaking out, or just making those around them feel really uncomfortable. And sometimes these people get particular pleasure from bullying their coworkers, and even their bosses. As Minda Zetlin points out, 40 percent of employees say working with unpleasant people lowers productivity.

We try ignoring them, staying polite--sometimes even going as far as even trying to befriend them at the cost of our own mental sanity. But just how should we really be dealing with jerks like these?

Well, sometimes all we need to do is speak up.

Much like the scenario that unfolds in elementary school with the school bully and the kid getting picked on at the playground, menacing figures can usually be stopped in their tracks simply by bringing the offensive behavior to their attention.

Thus, in this grown-up version of the same game, putting the spotlight on the jerk's terrible personality can be more than enough to put them in their place. For example, if you're in a group setting, and the jerk is someone a coworker has brought along--say something to your coworker. Let him know how uncomfortable his company is making you feel. Tell him his comments make you feel offended without turning it into a bigger deal than it is, of course.

By doing so, you're not sidestepping the issue by not approaching the bully himself. Instead, you're simply taking a more effective approach by speaking to someone the bully has a personal relationship with. In this case, the bully is more inclined to listen to the trusted coworker, since he likely does not want to disappoint that person. If someone he values brings up his behavior as a problem, he will then likely be more receptive to that information than if you brought it up yourself.

So, if you have a problem with someone at your office, speak to your supervisor privately. You aren't "ratting them out," as it would be perceived in the elementary school situation. If you've already tried addressing his problem by speaking to the jerk directly, you're now contacting another person who will be more effective at the job.

Don't be afraid to speak up to the jerk in the room; your playground days are behind you.

Published on: Jun 23, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.