When I was in elementary school, I was mocked for wearing really thick glasses. I’m seriously blind-as-a-bat and my mother refused to let me get contacts until 7th grade because she assumed (rightfully so) that I wasn’t responsible enough to take care of them at a young age. While I probably would have referred to my tormentors back then as bullies, I hesitate to use that term now because of the serious connotations that have been (also rightfully so) attached to that word in recent years. So instead, I’ll call those jerkfaces what they were – assholes.
As much as I refuse to believe that I am anywhere close to being a full-fledged, responsibility-bearing adult, I assumed that this type of bullshit would stop once we entered the working world. I mean, we are all supposed to be semi-mature grown-ups, right? Living on our own, earning paychecks, making actual decisions. But what I’ve found out in the land of full time employment is that those playground tormentors haven’t lost their taunting personalities – they’re just disguising them in bigger bodies wearing suits instead of jeans and baseball hats. (Although, maybe if you work in a laid back environment, they might still be dressing the way they did when they were 8, just hopefully without the bowl cut.)
And while these jerks are just as annoying now as they were in second grade, there’s a lot more at stake when you are dealing with them at work, because they aren’t just fucking with your feelings anymore – they are screwing with your livelihood. So here are the common types of office assholes and how to deal with them.
Two-Faced Tina. Tina is the office version of a “lady in the streets, but a freak in the sheets.” She’s “your friend at break, but a bitch when she has a stake” – in tearing you down, that is. Tina will be all nice to your face, and perhaps she really is your friend, but when it behooves her to throw you under to bus, you better watch out, because you are going to get tire marks on that nice new suit you bought with your last paycheck.
What To Do About Her: Well, first off, don’t trust her as far as you can throw her. Know that anything you tell her, whether it be standard office gossip or how you completely fucked up that spreadsheet, likely isn’t going to stay in her vault if it’s something she can use to her advantage. Second, call her on her two-faced tendencies – it’s one thing to stab someone in the back; it’s a lot harder to do when you’ve been caught doing it.
Loud Lloyd. The squeakiest wheel always gets the grease, right? Well, our buddy Lloyd is definitely the squeakiest – and the loudest – person in the office. Whether it’s blatantly talking over you at meetings, or constantly declaring at deafening decibels how incompetent everyone he works with is, Lloyd uses nothing more than the sheer volume of his voice to let everyone know that he is king of this freaking castle, and the rest of you are just minions. Not only are his constant put-downs demoralizing, you are forced to wonder how many of his declarations are making an impression on the boss.
What To Do About Him: The instinct is the scream back, right? Well, that’s wrong, because all that accomplishes is getting people you hate you as much as they hate Lloyd. Instead, you need to rally the troops. Odds are, everyone around you finds Lloyd’s loudness as obnoxious as you do, and while his voice may be louder than yours, it can’t be louder than 20 people’s. So coordinate an effort to drown him out at meetings or counter his office proclamations, and pretty soon, he’ll shut the hell up.
Guarded Gertrude. Old Gerty was the person you never, ever wanted to get paired with for a group project in college, and she certainly isn’t any better in the work place. She hoards all of the work, not letting you know what’s going on at all. And while on the surface that seems pretty cool – who wants to do work anyway, right? – it’s actually a total power-play, because knowledge is power and she wants to keep all of it to herself. She’ll take all of the credit on projects and throw you under the bus for any mistakes and for your lack of involvement… or hold onto the info that you need to do your own work, parceling it out in bits and pieces so that you know exactly who holds all the cards in this game of office poker.
What To Do About Her: To get the information you need from the office guard dog, you may need to call in reinforcements. First, send a carefully written, bullet-pointed list of everything you need (with justifications) from dear Gertrude, and if she doesn’t pony up the info, follow up with the passive-aggressive forwarding of the original message with a “Just wondering where we were at this!” note, with your boss on the Cc: line. Gerty may be willing to hold back the info from you, but odds are, she’ll give it up when the boss is in the mix.
Critical Charlie. You know that one friend you have that is always offering you “advice” that seems more like thinly veiled criticisms? Well, the office version of that is Charlie, whose every compliment is actually a condemnation. Among his greatest hits are “I really like your approach, but what about if we…,” “You know, it might be more effective if you…,” and my personal favorite, “You did a great job on that, but…” He is a master of the compliment-criticism sandwich, but you are starting to get some food poisoning.
What To Do About Him: Beat him at his own game by serving up your own dish of criticism between two pieces of compliment bread. “You know, Charlie, that sounds like a really good idea, but…” or “While I think that’s really important feedback, we were successful when we did it this way…” are good places to start. Let’s see if he can take what he dishes out.
Psychotic Pat. Every office has one – that wild person who you don’t dare cross or criticize for fear that it may lead to a full-on psychotic break. And while there are actually some crazies out there, odds are that Pat’s insanity is a carefully cultivated façade meant to keep people – and their critiques – at bay. She can turn on tears like a beer tap the second anyone offers a tiny bit of constructive feedback, or summon up a disproportionate amount of anger when you ask her about that lunch in her expense report. Pretty soon, no one approaches her about anything for fear of waterworks and/or fits of rage and she’s sitting in an ivory tower, holding all of the keys to the office in her insane little clutches while everyone walks on eggshells around her.
What To Do About Her: Dare to engage the crazy. Let her cry, let her rage. Eventually, one of three things will happen.
A.) She’ll be institutionalized because she’s legit insane
B.) She’ll be fired because people will realize her emotional roller coaster is a sham
C.) She’ll stab you with her staple remover and you’ll get workman’s comp and a pretty good lawsuit settlement
Either way, it all works out in your favor. .
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