March 31, 2016


5 ways to make sure you’re not a Work Jerk™

You know one when you see (or hear) one. The guy who always makes a smart-ass comment. The woman who loves to put down your ideas. Those are just two of the many annoying-as-all-hell habits that can turn an otherwise perfectly good person into a Work Jerk™.

Now let’s talk about you—have you ever been a Work Jerk™?

Reeeeeeally think about that before you answer.

According to Mitchell Kusy, PhD, a Fulbright scholar and professor at Antioch University, "Most [toxic individuals] don't realize they're toxic." After surveying 500 corporate leaders labeled by co-workers as “office jerks”, most were oblivious to how their behavior was perceived.

Here are 5 easy ways to avoid the dreaded “WJ” classification:

1. Be assertive but not aggressive. No one wants to be pushed around. Make your ideas and opinions known and remember to respect and listen to others. Good leaders don’t just listen to a co-worker’s idea... they also help develop them into winners.

2. Celebrate your accomplishments without bragging. No one likes a show-off. When celebrating your accomplishments, remember that you probably didn’t do it alone. Show appreciation to others who helped and supported you, even if all they did was stay out of the way.

3. Stay out of office gossip and focus on what you’re paid to do—work. We all should have left gossiping and sniping back in high school, but we know not everyone has. Stay above the urge to gossip. Even “just listening” can make you one of the Gossip Girls.

4. Trust your co-workers and employees—DON’T micromanage. This is a tough one for me; as a project manager, my job is to manage the details. My formula for success here is to set expectations at the start of every project. Say something like, “Please come to me if you’re having trouble meeting your task due date. Don’t wait until after the due date to let the team know there’s an issue.”

5. Don’t catch the Jerk Bug—don’t let one person’s rudeness to you change your behavior toward others. Paying it forward only applies to positive behavior.

This New York Times article article points out that while Work Jerks may seem like a minor annoyance, they can actually negatively impact your health, workplace focus, creativity, and contribution to the company (and its financial contributions to you). So don’t be like this guy:

Make sure you avoid being the source of workplace unpleasantness so the whole team continues working toward peak performance. Yeeaahhhh…it’d be really great if you could go ahead and do that.


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