Help! I work with a jerk!
Everyone, at some point or another, meets someone they absolutely cannot stand. When you’re forced to work with them; however, is where real problems arise. Have no fear; we are here to help. Unclench your fists and resist the urge to shout obscenities as we take you through some simple yet effect ways to deal with jerky colleagues.
They say a business is only as solid as the foundation it’s built on, and your foundation is your people. Your employees drive your business, and when they aren’t happy, their quality of work may begin to reflect that. So, whether it’s the creepy guy making all of your female employees uncomfortable or the water cooler gossip queen, these simple steps can help you resolve issues quickly, peacefully, and as diplomatically as possible.
- Pick your battles. First and foremost, decide upon the best allocation of your efforts. There is no need to create a problem where one does not exist- so be sure that you are only addressing issues that are urgent.
- Watch your language. While it may be tempting to really give someone a piece of your mind, be aware of how your colorful language may come off. Swearing and yelling are both unprofessional and unproductive, and most issues can be resolved with a calm discussion.
- Be direct. Don’t dance around the subject: get right to the point. If your issue is that your boss has nicknamed you “Coffee-Slave” and you find it demeaning, then say just that. By tiptoeing around the issue and hoping that it resolves itself, you aren’t going to accomplish much. Put aside your passive aggressive tendencies and stand up for yourself.
- Assess the severity of the issue. If your issue is something genuinely serious such as sexual harassment, go directly to a manager or authority figure and have them aid you in finding a solution.
- Follow through. This applies to both sides of the issue. If you are the one who has a problem, following through just means keeping up your end of the arrangement. If the other person has to change something about their behavior and has requested that you do as well, ensure that you are both being honest and fair to one another.
- If all else fails, consider your options. As an employer; if you have constant complaints about an employee, it may be time to look into replacing them. They may not be a good fit for your company culture and it may be in everyone’s best interest if they go elsewhere. As an employee, if you find that after numerous attempts to resolve an issue that nothing is getting done, it may be time for you to move on to a new opportunity.
- Smile. If you need to let someone go, or if you need to leave, do so on the best terms possible. Keep in mind that future employers love to contact past employers for references, and the last thing you want is a past employer giving you a negative recommendation.
So, there it is in 7 easy steps. No matter the situation, the best thing you can do is take a step back, assess your options, be proactive, and then make decisions accordingly. Everyone has had to deal with a jerk at one point or another, and how you handle the situation will in turn say a lot about you. Be as levelheaded and magnanimous as possible and watch as jerks disappear and you can learn to love the workplace once more.
You can get even more insight from this excellent Forbes.com post on how to deal with difficult coworkers.
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