6 Traits Of Office Jerks And What To Do About Them

Every office has a total jerk. Here’s how to identify and deal with them.

We have all worked with total jerks. Maybe you’re siting next to one right now. I know that a lot of conversations I have with my Y Executive clients are about these people and how their crappy behavior in the workplace affects others. Here’s some common things that office jerks do and how you can handle them.

1 – They turn everything in to an argument

Office jerks are opinionated. This is not a problem. Its great to share your opinions. The problem is when you turn a difference of opinion in to an argument. Raised voices, personal attacks and condescending or aggressive behavior is not ok, not even for the office jerk. The office jerk wants you to agree with them. That is why they are trying to intimidate you. It is hard to deal with the office jerk in this situation but the best thing to do is to remain calm yourself, to be firm with your responses and stick to the facts.

2 – They sweat the small stuff

A client of mine told me a story about an office jerk who complained to the regional director about the company social club having events on a Friday night. This was definitely not something that the regional director cared about. My client then had the regional director asking her why he was getting complaints about the social club. Argh!!! The best way to handle this situation is with explaining the logic that supported your actions in the first place.

3 – They use the wrong platform to air their issues

The classic email that was taken the wrong way, meetings being hijacked with personal agendas and having conversations with leaders about issues out of their jurisdiction are all examples of using the wrong platform. The office jerk doesn’t care what platform they use they just want the attention to be on what they believe is important. If you experience any of the above you should educate the office jerk about the platform that would be most appropriate. If they sent an email and they really should have made a phone call then ring them. If they hijacked a meeting with there own agenda then get the meeting back on track and take their issue off line. If you cant (or simply don’t want to) help them then ask them to address the issue with whoever is better able to give them the airtime they want.

4 – They don’t see the bigger picture

Office jerks don’t see past their own nose. They have no idea what the bigger picture is and honestly they probably don’t care. The problem here is that they are known to jump to conclusions, think the worst and not realize that they might be offending someone further along the chain as a result. One of my clients had an issue where an office jerk complained about something she had said to her manager. The office jerk didn’t know that the manager in fact gave that advice so by complaining about my client the office jerk actually complained about the manager to the manager’s face. How embarrassing! It is best to try and give some context to the office jerk if they are willing to listen. If they wont listen, then don’t push it. As long as you can see the bigger picture and can limit any issues arising for yourself then consider your job done.

5 – They don’t consider the opinions of others

The office jerk honestly thinks that their opinion is that of the masses. You will hear them say things like “everyone thinks” or “I am just saying what everyone is thinking”. The fact is they have not taken the time to listen to others opinions. The most likely scenario is that the office jerk is talking much more than they are listening. You can handle this by putting it back on them with questions like “how do you know that is what everyone thinks” or “Who else have you spoken to about this issue”. If you simply don’t agree just say that you don’t. If it turns into an argument then just stick to the facts. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

6 – They have no idea how others perceive them

Lastly but not least, office jerks have no idea how they are being perceived by others. Their social intelligence is lacking and they are unaware how what they say and do impacts how others feel. This is probably the biggest obstacle to overcome. I recommend that you provide insight and ask questions like “how did that person react?” or “why do you think they reacted like that?”. Having the ability to look at what you are doing, seeing the impacts and knowing how you and your actions will be perceived by others is a hard skill to acquire. It is something though that sets apart the leaders from the managers and the good performers from the super stars. Office jerks will have no idea that this is how they are being perceived and when/if it is ever pointed out to them they will likely not believe it.

We have all had dealings with the office jerk. I hope this post has given you some insight and tools to deal with them.

Skye London

Career Coach | Career development | Job Search

Skye London is Co-founder and Lead Career Coach at Y Executive. With a passion for coaching and extensive experience in all things recruitment Skye has developed a reputation as the go to person for help with your career.
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