Dealing With Jerks, Bastards, and Know-It-Alls

After yesterday’s post, I’ve taken a liking to the idea of a “how to” series.  I’ve learned a lot in my years at “the company” and am compelled to impart to you my knowledge of how to approach certain situations or individuals.

Today, we’ll focus on how to deal with Jerks, Bastards, and Know-It-Alls.  I think the right approach is to define each personality type and then discuss in detail how to minimize the negative impact that these people can have on your life.

Let’s start with Jerks.

A Jerk is someone who is openly hostile toward you in the workplace.  His (or her) motives are to make himself look good and make you look bad in a public forumn.  A Jerk never has a solution to any business problem, but he damn well can point out the deficiencies in your solution – particularly when you are in the midst of presenting this solution to senior executives.  For instance, you might be in front of the lead team presenting your ideas on a cost-cutting initiative when suddenly the Jerk says something like “let me interupt you there.  I suppose your plan would work if it wasn’t completely stupid.”  This would definitely piss you off.  In fact, it would piss you off enough to lash out.  NEVER EVER lash out at a Jerk.  You can’t win by lashing out.  He is a Jerk.  He is an expert at lashing out.  You will be verbally beaten into a corner and may end up storming out of the room in tears.  Either that or you’ll pull a Sissy Spacek in “Carrie.”

So how do we deal with a Jerk?  These few simple steps will help you tremendously.

  • Step #1 – Crack a joke about his jerky comment.  This makes him look silly.  It will infuriate him, particularly if you get a big laugh. Example: “Geez Howard, you act like I just knocked up your sister?”
  • Step #2 – Follow the joke by acknowledging his “superior” intellect and gently pushing the action item his way.  Example: “Seriously Howard, your team does have a real hold on this problem.  I’d really appreciate if you could suggest some solutions here.”  Watch his face go white after he digests this one.
  • Step #3 – Now comes the ejection.  Example: “Great, so Howard’s got that one and we can move on to item two…” 

The Jerk won’t know what hit him.

On to dealing with Bastards.

A Bastard is kind of like a Jerk only he never disparages you openly.  He works behind closed doors, telling your boss’s boss and your peers what a dumb-ass you are.

You have a few options in dealing with a Bastard: 

  • Option #1 – Start odd rumors about him, ruining his reputation.  Begin within your circle of trust and then actively perpetuate these rumors throughout the organization.  The most effective rumors will have something to do with the Bastard’s mental and physical health, e.g., “Did you hear that Larry has syphilis?  I hear it’s affecting his brain functions.”  Also effective are rumors that have to do with the Bastard’s personal hygiene, e.g., “Have you been around Larry lately?  He smells like a bag of assholes.”
  • Option #2 – Gain the Bastard’s trust by “killing him with kindness” then bury him in a public forum in front of his boss.  This will take some time, but you begin by finding a ludicrous idea that the Bastard has (and they always have one) and convincing him how great you think it is and how he should “push it up” to management.  Help him out with this.  Even do some bogus analytical work for him.  Then, during his presentation to execs, say something like, “you know Larry I just thought of something.  This idea of yours is like a steaming turd.  It just lays there motionless and stinks to high heaven.”

Now on to the Know-It-All

The Know-It-All persona is self-explanatory.  These f-ing people are a living breathing oxymoron.  They believe they know everything and yet they are actually so dumb their only real utility is to rent themselves out as a fence-post.

Dealing with the Know-It-All is simple.  NEVER EVER try to convince them that they are wrong and you are smarter than them.  You will end up in an endless conversation loop for the remainder of your life listening to the same dumb-ass arguments over and over and over again.  Just complement their intellect, elude to your own insecurities about your ability to complete a task, and they will do all your work for you.  Example: “Gee Boris, you seem to know quite a bit about this subject.  I may just be in over my head.  Would you mind helping me out and sorting through these seven hundred-thousand lines of data for me?”  Easy.

That’s about all I have for tonight.  Hopefully you don’t ever have to deal with Jerks, Bastards, or Know-It-Alls.  But if you work at “the company,” odds are you do.

1 Response to “Dealing With Jerks, Bastards, and Know-It-Alls”


  1. 1 He Who Knows from Experience April 17, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Based on my experience, I would say most of the remaining executives are know-it-alls – but they are executives because they figured out how not to take the action items. But dumb as a fencepost and certain they know something – yep that pretty well sums it up.


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