If you have ever worked in an office, you have probably met a coworker bully — that obnoxious person whose irrational or downright inappropriate behavior disrupts your productivity and morale and everyone else.
You have likely had to work with a difficult or even despised individual: whether it is that supervisor who is visibly upset when you don’t conform to their demands; the coworker who never provides you with enough information to complete a group project; the business partner who is constantly undercutting your negotiations; or the perpetually unhappy work neighbor who expresses dissatisfaction regularly.
Although your unfriendly colleagues are small in number, they can consume a significant amount of your time and energy, as per Christine Porath, a business professor at Georgetown University and writer of Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace.
Porath and Christine Pearson, an Arizona State University management professor, interviewed nearly 800 workers in 17 industries to better understand the consequences of workplace incivility. Their findings show that a lack of respect directly impacts employees’ performance. Many times this lack of respect comes from a workplace bully.
Experts, however, believe there is reason to be optimistic. Understanding why the office jerk persists in pushing coworkers the wrong way and learning how to tackle the annoying individual can make the workplace more tolerable. The following are five ways to overcome Jerk Coworkers and Partners who block you.
Confrontations are not everyone’s cup of tea. Working with office jerks can be exhausting, so most of us try to ignore them. The workplace jerk, although ubiquitous, is rarely challenged.
Experts believe that if more employees called out office jerks for their terrible behavior, ranging from poor office behavior to downright bullying, the workplace would function much more smoothly.
Such confrontations frequently have the reverse impact of the intent, causing rifts rather than allowing honest and fruitful discourse to take place. However, experts claim that confronting the office jerk might work wonders if done correctly.
One way is enforcing behavior standards in the workplace and then penalizing/openly calling out an employee who does not follow them. However, it is essential to avoid personal attacks when calling out a bully on their bad behavior. Your goal is to stop their bad behavior and not indulge in a duel with them.
It is tempting to expend a lot of energy expecting that your boss or business partner would suddenly become more helpful or that your coworker would stop ranting in meetings. Still, you have no control over what other people do. Such idealism will only waste your time and energy.
While you do not influence other people, you can control how you react to them. Put your efforts into taking constructive action, whether speaking up or staying calm and collected. Bullies naturally want your attention and to get a rise from you. Please don’t give them a reason to believe they have hurt you.
At work, everyone should form alliances with peers and persons above and below them who can act as advocates and champions for them.
Please talk with your supporters to see what they can do to assist you, whether merely validating your viewpoint or speaking on your behalf. Of course, you may need to raise the matter to a higher-ranking employee or HR. But first, you owe it to the relationship to seek an informal resolution.
It is critical to set healthy limits that spell out your expectations. For example, you can say, “I was speaking, and you interrupted. I will continue and finish what I was saying” if you are interrupted in a meeting by a jerk coworker.
Individuals who are not used to having their boundaries set for them are likely to become upset. Or if a coworker regularly comes to you with trash talk, tell them, “This seems like gossip, and I do not want to listen to it.” Setting rigid boundaries will save you time and stress in the long run.
Even if you establish reasonable boundaries with challenging coworkers, they can sap your mental energy. Use good coping techniques to help you stay strong.
Take better care of your health. It’s challenging to stay mentally strong when you mistreat your body for unhealthy drinks, insufficient sleep, or junk food. So, make sure you indulge in only healthy activities to cope with the behavior of the jerk coworker. Try different coping methods, including mindfulness and meditation, to find out what works best for you. It will serve you well.
Finally, ensure that your core values are fully integrated into your hiring and assessment, performance management, and recognition programs to ensure that bullies change or ultimately leave the company.
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Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute and the author of more than ten books on best practices in leadership and management, including Change Champion’s Field Guide, In Great Company, and Best Practices in Talent Management. Thought leaders and executives voted him one of Global Gurus Top 10 Organizational Culture thinkers worldwide.
Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, Most Loved Workplace, and Results-Based Culture. Author of In Great Company, Change Champions Field Guide, and Best Practices in Talent Management, as well as a series of Leadership Development books. He is a trusted strategic advisor and coach to CEOs, CHROs, and leaders of mid-sized to F500 companies – enabling change and steering employer brand development together with highly effective teams, leaders, and organizations as a whole.