They are real. They are out there. We have worked with them, for them and lead them. For whatever reason provenance has deemed necessary, there will often be that one person in a working environment that no amount of coaching or compassion will breach. These narcissistic jerks cause disruption, anxiety, pressure, and even hostile work environments no matter what others may do to try and alleviate their control issues.
If you have someone in your work arena that fits this description, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to ensure a smoother, though not ideal, working relationship that gets the results you need. It simply is a matter of recognising that not all workmates are created equal, and this one just needs to be handled in a more demanding way. It’s not about YOU, it’s about them, remember this. And only you hold the power over your thoughts and actions.
Be aware of your confidence
One tactic workplace jerks take on to forward their own narcissism is to bully other employees into discrediting their own work. You are the expert in the field and recognise your work has great value and substance, so when the workplace jerk starts knocking it down, realise you have more fruitful avenues for peer review. Seek out those around you who you trust and garner their opinion. Often times you will discover the negative critiques were simply that – negative.
Keep communications open
It is often uncomfortable to discuss just about anything with a demanding jerk in the workplace, but shutting down lines of communication is not the answer. When having to collaborate with such as personality, speak clearly and concisely about your topic. Be aware that a narcissist needs to feel in control, and that they may well try to drive the communication into a light that makes them look better. This is done by introducing red herrings into the conversation – don’t fall prey to dead end roads. Stick to the point at hand and move along.
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Don’t just take it
If the office jerk is offensive, bullying, or entering the realm of harassment, you don’t have to take one for the team and excuse the behaviour. Recognise that their actions affect not only your work environment, but also the business image and fluidity as a whole. Report negative behaviour immediately to a supervisor or the human resources leader for resolution, and understand that this has nothing to do with anything you have done. Negative personalities such as the workplace jerk reduce productivity and job satisfaction, and making others aware of the disruption to business will ensure actions are taken immediately to correct the situation.
The Author – Sonia McDonald
Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn inspire and bring out the best in others.
For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of human resource management. She has held leadership positions around the globe and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly effective leader.
Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, who puts people at ease and starts important conversations.
She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.
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