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The Office Jerk: Who They Are & How to Deal With Them

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Have you ever been plagued by a manager who wasn’t afraid to insult employees?

Or had to deal with a coworker who keeps invading your personal space?

Unfortunately, I have, and such people can be annoying.

If you’ve had to deal with a lot of office jerks like me, you’ll know that they’re a dime a dozen.

From the know-it-alls to the outright bullies, office jerks are one of the most common causes of workplace disruption.

That’s why I think it’s essential to learn how to identify an office jerk.

That way, you can choose the best way to deal with one.

What Is an Office Jerk?

An office jerk is someone who demeans, belittles, and demotivates others on a daily basis.

They often target people with less power or whom they perceive to be weaker.

Such uncivil behavior isn’t ruled by certain criteria. So, an office jerk can be a coworker or a manager.

They can be male, female, young, old, well-educated, or a dropout.

Because many office jerks have high self-esteem or, at the very least, moderate self-esteem, they’re often unaware that their actions cause genuine distress to others.

This lack of self-awareness can make it difficult for them to accept the opinions of others.

Why Are They Called an Office Jerk?

Anyone can be a jerk from time to time. However, whether they make a habit of it determines whether they receive the label “office jerk”.

That’s why the term usually describes a specific type of difficult people.

Office jerks consistently and repeatedly engage in behavior that’s detrimental to other employees and the overall office environment.

Such difficult behavior often spreads like wildfire within an office and among employees.

As a result, the behavior of office jerks makes work difficult for others and prevents coworkers from performing at their best, affecting productivity and increasing workplace stress.

Common Behaviors of an Office Jerk

Every office has a jerk, and they’re not always easy to spot at first.

So, to devise some strategies to deal with them, you must first be able to identify some of the traits that most office jerks exhibit.

Bullying

Bullies are the most toxic of all office jerks.

They’re known for being aggressive and demeaning to others in order to boost their own self-esteem.

Some bullies are subtle, using sarcasm or making snide comments, inappropriate remarks, and backhanded compliments to humiliate others.

Others are more obvious and confrontational, belittling their target in front of others, especially superiors.

As a result, their behavior creates hostile and stressful workplaces.

Gaslighting

Gaslighters will isolate a coworker or a team and begin feeding them small bits of false rumors, which is one of the most common forms of office sabotage.

Bit by bit, those office jerks win their target’s trust before sowing self-doubt in their minds, causing their target to doubt their sanity, memory, and abilities.

This gives the office jerk power and control over their target.

That way, the gaslighter can project their flaws onto their target.

They can even persuade their target to accept responsibility for any failure.

Taking Credit for Someone Else’s Work

Those office jerks steal other people’s ideas and take credit for other people’s work.

They usually take advantage of the fact that no one is keeping track of who did what and claim credit for themselves.

This behavior may not always be intentional, though.

Some people may overestimate their contribution to the development of an idea.

Taking credit for other people’s work, in either case, can undermine teamwork and collaboration.

It can lead employees to believe that stealing ideas from each other is the only way to get recognition and advance.

Throwing Others Under the Bus

Office jerks who take credit for other people’s accomplishments are usually the first to blame others when things go wrong.

Unfortunately, bus throwers are difficult to detect because they can appear friendly at first.

When it comes down to it, however, they won’t mind throwing you under the bus.

Giving Unsolicited Advice

The know-it-all jerk is the employee who constantly offers unsolicited advice, tries to show others how to do their job, and dismisses input from others.

Such condescending behavior is often rooted in the belief that they know more and better than others.

That’s why most know-it-all jerks hold higher-level positions or have extensive industry experience.

That said, some people may be sincerely trying to help others, but they come across as know-it-all jerks.

Can You Effectively Manage an Office Jerk?

Research shows that interpersonal conflicts are one of the leading causes of workplace stress.

That’s why, to maintain a healthy and positive work environment, it’s critical to successfully manage difficult people.

While managing an office jerk in an effective and positive manner is not always easy, it’s not impossible.

Luckily, due to their lack of self-awareness, many office jerks are often surprised and remorseful by how their behavior has affected others.

That’s why, once they receive proper feedback regarding their behavior and specific office rules are implemented, office jerks are likely to curb their toxic behavior.

If all else fails, employees can report the office jerk to a superior or human resources if the office jerk is the boss.

How to Deal With an Office Jerk

As you’ve seen, there are various types of office jerks.

Technically, there are ways to get them fired.

Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of jerks, especially ones with real talent.

Not to mention that many office jerks aren’t even aware that they’re being difficult.

So how do you deal with an office jerk?

Face Them Head-On

One of the main reasons office jerks exist is that their behavior often goes unchecked.

So if you confront them and stand firm, they’re more likely to back down or relent.

Even if they try to deflect by masking their behavior as a joke, tell them confidently that no one will tolerate their behavior any longer.

Make sure to remain assertive rather than aggressive.

Reacting aggressively to office jerks plays right into their hands and provides an excuse for them to escalate their behavior.

Establish Office Rules

Another way you can confront an office jerk is by forming a united front, especially if the office jerk is a superior.

In this case, all coworkers and managers should get together to establish appropriate office behavior rules on which everyone can agree.

Most importantly, there’s no need to single out the office jerk and risk making them feel personally attacked, which can exacerbate the situation and impede communication.

Pick Your Battles

Almost everything office jerks do and say becomes annoying and frustrating after a while.

That’s why it’s critical to let the minor details roll off your back.

Picking your battles allows you to work peacefully and without losing your temper often.

There’s no need to respond when dealing with a know-it-all, for example.

You can listen to their “advice,” thank them for their assistance, and then do what feels right to you.

You can also treat petty or insecure office jerks with extra kindness.

Because your reaction will be unexpected, it may disarm them and make them mellow down.

Wrapping Up

In short, office jerks can be gaslighters, bullies, gossipers, nimrods, and many other types of jerks.

Unfortunately, though, no workplace will ever be completely free of office jerks.

Luckily, several positive ways can keep such difficult people in check, such as confronting them and questioning their behavior.

If you still have any unanswered questions left, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Just keep in mind that an office jerk is anyone who consistently engages in inappropriate behavior that causes a problem in the office.

Such behavior almost always leads to a disruptive workplace environment and low morale, which is why dealing with such people appropriately is critical.

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