Struggling With A Jerk At Work?

Got any jerks in your life?  You know the type. The ones who think they know it all, the ones who don’t listen to a word you say, the ones who push and push until you can’t take it, or the ones who are the first to cry victim but the last to admit to a fault.  They are exhausting, relentless, aggressive, nitpicking, frustrating, and by the time you are done talking to them you want to run away screaming.

Worse yet, they can turn even the best of days upside-down with just a comment, message, text or email.  You have become so programmed to their belligerent behavior that just the mention of their name stirs you inside and the sound of their voice can bring a fight-or-flight response.  As with any jerk, there are those who agree with you about the behavior and then those who adamantly disagree believing him/her to be a wonderful person.  So what can you do?  What do you do with all of that frustration especially if you are unsure of whom to confine it?

Identify the abnormal behavior.  The natural tendency when confronted by a jerk is to do just that, label them as a jerk.  While this may bring about some comfort, he/she is the jerk and not you, in the end it leaves you with nothing to do except avoid them.  More than likely, if this person is bothering you he/she is not a person you can avoid indefinitely.  So instead of labeling and dismissing him/her, identify the behavior that is driving you nuts.  Is it a word, phrase, tone of voice, emotion such as anger, aggression, or the way you were attacked?  If it is several of these, break it down until you have one really irritating piece.

Identify what it reminds you of.  Ask “what does this behavior remind me of” or “who does this behavior remind me of”.  The first thing that pops into your head is usually the best as long as it is not the same person or incident.  For instance, you receive an email from a co-worker who created a larger than life problem but is now trying to shift the blame onto you.  You are stuck cleaning up the mess and have to deal with the co-worker but are angry at his/her continued unwillingness to take responsibility for his/her actions.  The email sends you over the top as now he/she has manipulated the circumstances to blame you for his/her mistake.  So ask the two questions.  Could it be that this person reminds you of the time when a bully beat you up and then said it was you who started the fight and the bully was only defend him/her?  You may need to ask the question again if there is more than one similar incident, keep going until you have a couple of irritating people on your list.

Identify how you wish you responded.  Now that you have the underlying incident mixed with the underlying person, examine how you responded.  Most likely you have already replayed the incident in your head over and over wishing for another opportunity to confront the person and given the same set of circumstances and now your response would have been much better.  In reality we don’t have opportunities to turn back the clock and confront but we do have current circumstances with similar characters which is exactly where you are with the jerky behavior today.  At some deep level, this current circumstance reminded you of a past circumstance in which you already had a strong desire to do something different.

So do something different.  What is the outcome you are trying to achieve?  Using the above story, if your desired outcome is to get noticed for doing quality work, then do excellent flawless work.  Don’t let the jerk at the office rattle you and cause you to be ineffective, that is his/her goal; rather, use their immature behavior as a way of highlighting your mature behavior.  And in the end not only will you feel better but you are one step closer to your desired outcome.

Don’t allow the jerks to get the best of you and distract you from doing your work, having fun, or just hanging with the family.  He/she lives to steal the best from others and use it to enhance himself/herself.  There is no need for you to fall victim again to another trap, identify it and do something different instead.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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7 Ways to Be Different at Work Instead of Just Another Jerk

jerksIt’s easy to be a jerk at work.  When something doesn’t get done the way it should because it’s late, incomplete, or missing essential details, it’s easy to get upset and fly off the handle.  After all, you have invested your valuable time, energy and effort only to be left with substandard work from your co-workers.  It’s not right, it’s not fair, and you are entitled to be frustrated.

So you become more jerky with each disappointment only to wake up one day and realize that you have become something you don’t really like.  There is a better way to handle things at work that can produce excellent results without compromising your standards.

Be Patient.  Promotions, projects, and promises don’t happen overnight so be patient for your opportunities to shine.  Don’t be so eager to do everything that you miss the chance to do one thing exceptionally well.

Be Kind.  Too often kindness is reserved only for clients and not for co-workers or vendors.  Kindness is a lost art form in our culture and therefore is a noticeable commodity in your workplace.  Showing kindness to those around you requires little effort but reaps great rewards.

Don’t Boast.  Tooting your own horn might get you noticed quickly but it is short-lived and builds resentment from your co-workers.  Rather seek opportunities to compliment others and boast your co-workers instead of tearing them down.

Be Negotiable.  If you constantly insist on getting your way, you will wear out your co-workers and they will be less likely to bring new and valuable ideas to the table.  Listen to the ideas of others and find ways to incorporate them into your ideas.  Too heads are truly better than one.

Be Even-tempered.  Consistency in your attitude and behavior is an asset.  If your clients can expect a smile and warm greeting despite any frustrations then it will be easier to negotiate any deal.  Your co-workers likewise should be able to count on a similar attitude and behavior.

Don’t Give Up.  The toughest of circumstances can be only be resolved with a never give up attitude.  This does not mean that you don’t choose to walk away from a bad deal or an unproductive co-worker but it does mean that you don’t give up on making new deals or training new employees.

Be Hopeful.  It might be hard to be hopeful when difficult situations at your office seem to stay the same or even get worse.  Being hopeful might even seem like you are being unrealistic however if you plan for the worst and hope for the best your attitude will be infectious and could just be the spark that is needed in your office.

Each of these is not a one-time fix; rather it requires you to consistently practice each one.  You may need to pick one idea a week and try it on before moving on to the next idea instead of trying to do everything all at once.  This will allow the change to be more permanent and in the end you will return back to the person that you want to be instead of the jerk that you became.

DISC Personality Profile: Working Together

You understand your personality profile and can now see how the pieces fit together to form a whole functioning group.  So now the struggle becomes how to communicate effectively with each other.  Effective communication is difficult under normal circumstances but try complicating it with different strengths, weaknesses, needs and motivations and you are likely to feel a bit overwhelmed.  Worse yet, do this for an entire team of different profiles and watch your time disappear.

Instead of resorting back to the way things were before you learned all of this information, try incorporating a couple of these tactics the next time you have a team meeting.  Remember you can meet the needs of all your personalities in one meeting at one time which in the end will save you time and energy while reducing stress and frustration.

Project Outline. In order to better understand effective communication, the same example will be used for each profile.  You have been given a task of reducing your team’s budget by $1M over the next three years and are holding a team meeting to communicate the expectations, deadlines, and potential concerns.

What.  For the dominating in your group, they need to know the “what” of this project.  They are not interested in how you think they should go about cutting the budget or who is involved; rather they just want to know what are the expectations and deadlines.  The more information you give them the more likely they are to be frustrated and fear that you don’t trust them to complete the task.  Less information is best, they will ask for more details if they need it.

Who.  For the influential in your group, they need to know “who” is involved this project.  While the other information such as deadlines and objectives are necessary, you will get further if you explain who will be involved in the project with them and who will be reviewing the project in the end.  If there is potential for public recognition, use this as a motivating piece to encourage the project to be completed on a timely basis.  For this group, it is best to move the deadline earlier as they are likely to be late.

How.  For the steadfast in your group, they need to know the “how” of this project.  Questions like how is this project going to be measured, how are they going to tell someone that the budget has been cut, and how are they going to viewed by others are important issues to address.  The more support, reassurance, and loyalty you can show this group the more comfortable they will be accomplishing this task.  This group will come back to you over and over again because they are afraid of hurting someone along the way.

Why.  For the conscientious in your group, they need to know the “why” of this project.  Begin by explaining the big picture of why the budget is being cut then move to why their specific area needs to be cut.  It will be hard for this group to participate in such a project without fully understanding all of the details and decisions that lead to this conclusion.  Give them as much information as you can and then redirect them to someone else for additional information if needed.  More information is better than less.

Don’t feel as though everyone needs to hear all of this information, they don’t.  if the dominating of the group are done, let them leave and begin to work.  If the influential of the group want to hang out because they like to be with others, let them but don’t expect them to hear anything past the “who”.  You will have to give the steadfast permission to leave the meeting as they are least likely to take initiative.  But the conscientious of the group will outlast and out question all of the groups.  Meeting the needs of each group one time is a far better use of your time and will reduce the level of stress for your team.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to Talk to Your Narcissistic Boss

Oil on canvas

Oil on canvas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After years of speculation, you have finally come to the realization that your boss is a narcissist.  Since this is not the type of economy where you can just leave your job and expect to get another one quickly, you find yourself stuck and miserable in a job that normally you would like except for your narcissistic boss.  In the beginning everything was great.  Your boss seemed to like you and you liked him/her despite the previous dozen or so former employees who left rather abruptly.  Then one day everything changed, as if a switch just flicked without your knowledge and you went from the best employee ever to the most incompetent human alive.

But you are stuck and despite the numerous attempts to flick the switch back the other way, it’s not budging.  Every day now begins with several duck and cover attempts as you dodge the verbal bullets assaults of your boss until one day when you have no option but to confront.  Finally, the issues on your desk have built up to an unbearable level and something has to give as there is no more time. While you know you need to confront your boss, you must do it in a way that doesn’t cost your job in the process.  So how do you do it?  Try a few of these suggestions.

 Use the Hamburger method.  Think for a moment about a McDonald’s hamburger, would you ever eat the meat without the bun?  No, the meat is terrible without the bun.  Well for just about anyone, but a narcissist in particular, delivering bad news is the meat of the matter and without a bun it is likely to be spit right back out at you.  So, create a bun of praise around the meat.  Since a narcissist loves himself/herself, try praising your boss first, then follow it with the meat of the matter, and end it with yet another personal or professional praise.

Use it only once.  You are going to be shocked at how well this will work and be very tempted to repeat this for the dozen or so other meats but watch out.  Your narcissist boss will likely catch on and become even angrier thinking that you are manipulating him/her.  So when you do this, do it once per conversation, and never twice in the same day.

 Pick your meat carefully.  If possible, prioritize the meat that needs to be confronted and do the most burning issues first, then follow it with the ones for greater long-term impact and end with the other not so important short-term issues that may just go away on their own.  Whenever possible, overlook meat so your confrontations are not frequent but don’t be irresponsible about the meat.  Some meat must be dealt with however insignificant it may seem.

When in danger…If the confrontation begins to take a bad turn, don’t defend yourself.  Never ever give ground to a narcissist unless you are willing to give that ground permanently.  Instead repeat back part of what your boss is saying, not too much to be obnoxious, but just enough to let him/her know you heard what he/she said even if this includes something negative about you.  That action alone, without your overreaction will be enough to take the wind out of his/her sails.

No emotion.  The thing about a narcissist is that he/she has no empathy of anyone else except himself/herself, so don’t waste your time getting upset or teary eyed.  The quickest way for a narcissist to stop being angry is for you to have no emotion whatsoever.  When you show emotion, he/she believes you have lost and treats you like prey instead of treating you with compassion.  When you don’t show emotion, your narcissistic boss will try another tactic such as changing the subject to try again to get the upper hand.

Don’t give ground, stand still, and stand strong and your narcissistic boss will likely soften around you instead of attacking the next time.  Just remember that a narcissistic boss is common and even if you left your current position, you are likely to find another one lurking behind some corner.  So stop fighting and learn how to talk to a narcissistic boss instead of running from them.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.