Interpersonal Edge: Make sure workplace jerk doesn’t
Sunday, November 15, 2015


By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
  Q. I have a guy at work that everyone agrees is rude, arrogant and hostile. I am the opposite. He has made it clear to our team that he doesn’t like me. The weird thing is that people always throw me under the bus and blame me about the conflict. Why do people favor the people who act badly and not support the person who is nice? And how do I deal with this?
  A. The reason people support the jerk is that they are afraid of the jerk. The reason they blame the nice guy is that it is way less scary than confronting the rude team member.
  In our politically correct world it can be tempting to think that we have escaped our cave people roots. However, in reality the person who acts outrageously probably gets quite a lot of undeserved goodies from swearing, screaming and threatening. Most of us really don’t want to tackle advanced jerk behavior and will just give in.
  In the long run, everyone the jerk knows will get even. The problem is the consequences can take a long time to hit the rude guy while the nice guy is suffering.
  Realize that if you give in when someone at work acts outrageously, you have just taught them to give you more bad behavior. You don’t have to fight with them, but do strategically withdraw and avoid giving in.
  The next step is to realize a jerk loves, loves, loves drama and intensity. If you start fighting with them, they will win - they are better at dirty fighting. Anything you can do not to engage them without rewarding them is an excellent strategy. 
  Since you are already the identified team combatant in relationship to your office jerk, immediately employ the following tactics:
  -Stop talking about the jerk with anyone inside the workplace.
  -Completely disengage the jerk and avoid the jerk.
  -Do not glare or in any way give this guy your energy.
  -Validate that you are not a bad person just because the jerk wants to fight with you.
  You’ll find it hard to follow all four recommendations, but they are critical to your peace of mind and effectiveness. As long as you are the identified enemy of the office scary guy, your teammates will be happy to let you be in the cross hairs. 
  The hardest of the four steps for many of my clients is to stop talking about the jerk with anyone inside the workplace. We all desperately crave understanding and validation when we are suffering. However, your team needs either to blame you or tackle the problem person. Which action do you think they are more likely to take?
 The good news is that once you completely disengage from the jerk, he will have to pick another target. Once he starts to go after someone else on your team, both of you can go to your manager, point out the behavior and request assistance.
As long as it’s only the nicest person on the team fighting with the worst-behaving member of the team, no one will come to your aid. Once this guy picks another victim, you’ll be in a position to help his next victim in a way in which no one is going to help you.
Office bullies have to be starved of food and oxygen. When a jerk begins to see that he cannot create drama, he cannot get engagement and he cannot get goodies, he will either change his ways or get out. In either case, you will finally win!
  The last word(s)
  Q. Is there something I can do when I try to give feedback to someone who spends the next 15 minutes defending themselves?
  A. Yes, interrupt gently and repeat back the emotions within their defensiveness. People’s ears are never open if their hearts are closed!
  Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This column was printed in the November 15, 2015 - November 28, 2015 edition.

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