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Merriam-Webster’s definition of a jerk is “a person who is not well-liked or who treats other people badly.” If you’ve ever worked in an office, chances are you’ve encountered an office jerk – that annoyingly arrogant know-it-all, bully, or loudmouth whose unwelcome pranks or downright inappropriate behavior destroy the self-esteem, productivity and morale of every other employee.

Work jerks aren’t so bad when their cubicle is on the other side of the office, but what do you do when you’re stuck working with a jerk day in and day out?

If you work with an office jerk, here are five quick and easy ways to maintain your sanity and move on with your day. As we like to say at Connectria, “just say no” to jerks!

  1. Smother the jerk with kindness: Generally, people who are perpetually unpleasant or chronic complainers are just plain unhappy. They may even be insecure. Knowing that, you may be able to change the dynamic between the two of you by finding things to appreciate about them. Keep your eye open for good work, smart ideas, or even the occasional good attitude, and be sure to praise them when they do something well. Saying genuinely nice things goes a long way toward helping others feel better about themselves — and you’ll feel better too.
  2. Ignore the jerk at work: It’s not worth getting into it with a difficult person. You’ll rarely win. Just let the person run wild and stay focused on doing your best job. He or she will get the message quickly once you’ve done this a couple of times, and will seek a different set of ears. Chances are, if they are bothering you, they are bound to be bothering someone else. Let a manager be the one to confront the situation.
  3. Don’t be a doormat: While you shouldn’t let this bully know they are getting under your skin, you also shouldn’t let them walk all over you. When push comes to shove, don’t be afraid to be assertive. Most people find that if they stand up and act professionally and with confidence, the bully will back off
  4. Focus on the positive: If things with the jerk just aren’t improving, try thinking about all the positive aspects of your job. Are you learning new things? Do you like your (other) coworkers? Does it give you a flexibility you need to take care of kids or personal items? Are you fairly compensated? Hopefully the good parts of your job outweigh the bad coworker, and you can feel personally fulfilled by recognizing these other blessings.
  5. Practice acceptance: Accept that people and things are the way they are. You can’t change others, but you can change your own perceptions and expectations. Repeating this to yourself every time you hear that annoying person’s voice across the room should work like magic to immediately chase away frustration and disconnect yourself from the situation. You’ll quickly feel more accepting, calm, and less irritated.

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