Every office has assholes who spoil everything for everyone. They annoy us. They upset us. They drive everyone crazy. It takes a certain personality, a certain talent to do what the rest of us view as appalling, disrespectful or plain crazy, and get away with it. The good news is that we don’t have to put up with these office assholes. The bad news is that it is not easy to confront them.
In my career I have dealt with a few types of office jerks. Feel free to add one of your own in the comments below.
The Loud Mouth
This type of office jerk has prolonged and extremely loud conversations on the phone. Most of the time these conversations are about politics, religion, dates, women, men, about anything really but work. The Loud Mouth disregards coworkers, work deadlines, coworkers political views, religious believes and privacy issues. Everyone is on edge and ready to punch each other in a throat when the Loud Mouth finally hangs up.
What you can do: talk to the Loud Mouth and ask them to stop being a jerk. If this doesn’t work you can try to declare your own war, and take some actions against the Loud Mouth. Ever tried talking on your cell phone in the Loud’s Mouth cubicle while the asshole is on the phone, proclaiming allegiance to Scientology? Yeah, me neither. Most of the time no matter what you do, the Loud Mouth might not listen to you. Therefore, I recommend talking to your boss.
This type is a bully. I hated bullies in high school. I hate bullies in the office. The Interrupter cuts you off in every meeting, talks over you, disregards your opinion, shows no respect. The worst is that it all happens in front of other people. The Interrupter makes you feel embarrassed, humiliated and disrespected. You start having self-doubts, thus your performance suffers. You lose your focus.
What you can do: there is no other way around it but to stand up for yourself. You don’t have to take this shit from anyone. Well, maybe your boss (and still it depends on circumstances.) However, do not be rude to the Interrupter. Stay cool and professional. Tell the offender directly “I am not done talking. Let me finish.” Say it firmly, clearly and loudly (but please don’t scream.) You know what worked for me in the past? Extending my arm, palm up to the offender’s face and saying, “Let. Me. Finish.”
The Office Wanderer
This is the type that annoys me the most. The Office Wanderer hangs out in your cubicle at the most inconvenient times, telling you weekend stories, staring at your computer, scanning the papers on your desk. The worst part is that no matter what you do or say, nothing seems to work on the Office Wanderer who keeps coming back.
What you can do: the more straight forward you are going to be, the better it will work. In the past I would say that I did not have time to chat. I would ask if there was something the Office Wanderer was looking for on my desk. I would turn my back on the uninvited cubicle guest, and would explain that I was working on an approaching deadline. If the Office Wanderer insisted on staying and talking, I would jokingly say that it seemed to me they had a lot of time on their hands.
I am a strong believer that if you keep ignoring office assholes, you will be encouraging and promoting their behavior. You need to stand up for yourself. But please do so in a professional manner, maintaining a good attitude (I know how hard it can be sometimes.) No one deserves to work in an uncomfortable or hostile work environment. No one.