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7 different types of jerk at work (and how to deal with them)

We have all dealt with the share of jerk at work. You may be a colleague who is disgusted by your boss, someone who is doing nothing while getting all the credits, or a boss who wants to have more control over every aspect of your day. No matter what your work jerk looks like, there is one thing for sure. It means that life can be hell.

After all, there are also types of work jerks.As Tessa WestAssociate Professor of Psychology, New York University, and author of the book Jerk at work: What to do about them with toxic colleagues, To explain, work jerks tend to fall into at least one of seven categories.

There are kiss-up punch-down jerks, credit stealers, bulldozers, free riders, micro-managing bosses, lazy bosses, and finally gas lighters. All of these jerks can make your life a living hell, though in some very different ways.

The good news is that if you know what to look for, you can find these jerks and find ways to minimize their damage. As West points out, some of the danger signs to look for are not specific to the work jerk itself, but to the organization. A culture of bad work can turn almost everyone into jerk.

“It’s really important to learn to read these signs early,” West said. “It’s not only in people, but in culture.”

Kiss up kick downer

Kiss Up One of Kickdowner’s earliest warning signs is that you always have to compare yourself to others. This can be a big issue, such as comparing monthly sales, or an insane issue, such as who gets the most prizes.

“Another thing they often show early on is that they can read the room,” West said. “They quickly understand who has power and who doesn’t.” When it comes to power, this includes more obvious players such as bosses, but everyone seeks advice. It also includes more informal players such as colleagues. Kiss-up Kickdowners inhale these people as a way to protect themselves from complaints by identifying them and making sure that those in power are on their side.

To deal with kiss-up kickdowners, you need to find a companion. That is, someone who is connected and can provide a perspective on the problem. It also helps in trying to identify others targeted by the kiss-up kickdowner. When I bring this out with my boss, I want to be very specific about how kiss-up kickdowner behavior affects productivity and morale.

Credit stealer

Credit stealers are opportunists. Often, their strategy is to find a team that works well and works well together. The weakness of these teams is that many “us” words are used in the presentation, making it difficult to know exactly who is doing what. “The teams aren’t good at allocating credits, so they can come in and receive credits,” West said.

If this team has a hands-off boss, credit stealers often find a particularly prominent way based on the fact that the boss is not involved in day-to-day operations and therefore does not have sufficient knowledge. Check out the credit stealer tactics.

“Behind the scenes, they use what we sometimes call invisible labor,” West said. All of these are everyday tasks that are important to the success of your project, but they are not always recognized. “When no one else claims it, the credit stealer goes in and takes credit for that invisible labor.”

For credit stealers, it’s important for teams to find ways to give credit where they need it, such as identifying who contributed to what during a presentation to senior management.


With a bulldozer, what you see is what you get. These are the people who give way to flatten everyone else in the process, no matter what. There are usually two types of bulldozers. Zoom The one that always mutes during a call and the one that runs a bulldozer behind the scenes.

The first type of bulldozer tends to be poor at reading the room. They won’t stop talking until everyone else builds a cave in what they want. As West points out, bulldozers often have something that everyone needs, such as certain software skills that no one else knows, so this type of behavior can continue.

The second type of bulldozer is a little more subtle. “They are very skilled and tend to be connected,” West said. “Their talent is to shut down the consequences of groups they don’t like by questioning the process.” To do this, they go to the people in power and the decisions that are about to be made. Let me ask you about.

To deal with bulldozers, it is important to think of strategies to ensure that your voice is audible and avoid situations where you have to rely on the bulldozer to get things done.

Free rider

According to West, this is the most common type of jerk at work, especially when some type of teamwork is involved. “The main skill of them is that they tend to be attractive,” West said. “They are often fascinating and entertaining, and we like to have them. They don’t behave like jerky, they’re like really nice people who are overwhelmed and don’t live together. Behave to. ”

Free-riders are very good at finding strong and hard-working teams, figuring out how to fly under the radar, and sharing the work across the team so that no one feels the pain of sagging.

Groups that are particularly vulnerable to free-riders tend to be conscientious, cohesive, and habitually rewarding collectively. Free riders know that these teams will get the job done no matter what. That is, other teams try to regain their slack and at the same time maintain peace.

“Their presentation skills are great,” West said. “They propose to provide a presentation that the team has spent 30 hours on, which makes this connection between the team and all the hard work, even though they didn’t actually do anything behind the scenes. Sex is born. ”

For free riders, it’s important to find a way to do regular fairness checks, such as explaining who does what. As West points out, free-riders sometimes do what they do not because they aren’t interested in work, but because they’re away from work. In such cases, free-riders can get back to work by identifying the tasks they are enjoying or are good at.

Micro manager

Everyone made a deal with a micro manager somewhere. These are the bosses who make your life hell by getting involved in every aspect of your work and disrupting everything in the process, no matter how trivial. In the case of micro-managers, they aim to help, but their efforts often backfire, slowing down the process and reducing the quality of work.

“They are working hard and doing the least,” West said. “Many of their micro-management comes from chronic anxiety that they still don’t understand how to effectively regulate.” As West points out, many micro-manager bosses tell themselves micro. That’s because we have a manager boss or we haven’t been trained on how to be an effective manager. “They were promoted not because they were in control, but because they were good at their old work.” Labor cultures, such as unforgivable cultures, can also contribute to this problem.

Dealing with the MicroManager boss means that you have to find a way to alleviate this anxiety while setting boundaries. It can include specific boundaries needed to get the job done effectively, and can also schedule regular check-ins at specified times.

Lazy boss

Lazy bosses are usually characterized by contradictions. They may take weeks or months without knowing what you are doing, but they suddenly plunge and want to know everything you are doing. “The warning sign that you have a lazy boss is a sense of this chronic uncertainty you have, and you don’t know when they will appear and cause havoc,” West said. “They are really inconsistent in their behavior and hard to predict.”

A lazy boss can happen at any stage of your career. Neglected because they have no management experience, they are overwhelmed by having too much on their plates, or because they do not have a clear message from their boss about what they need to prioritize maybe.

To deal with his lazy boss, West recommends asking small, specific questions. Offer to get rid of work from their dishes; or seek the help needed by a non-boss professional.

Gas lighter

For the other six types of jerk, West encourages you to try to understand what their motives are. When it comes to gas lighters, she doesn’t recommend this strategy. “Gas lighters are the scariest and most morbid jerk to deal with at work,” West said. “They are lying to create another reality, and the reason they are doing it is because there is something they are trying to hide.”

Gas lighters may be trying to hide illegal or unethical behaviour. Or you may be trying to hide the signs of your incompetence. In any case, they do this by isolating people, making them feel part of something special, or slowly destroying their self-esteem. Gas lighters are very good at covering their footprints. That is, they often do this privately and leave no paper traces of their actions.

To deal with gas lighters, West recommends building a network of trusted people. When you’re ready to figure out what’s going on, ask people about their general experience with gas lighters and start small.

7 different types of jerk at work (and how to deal with them)

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