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We’ve All Painfully Worked with Work Jerks

by | May 30, 2022 | Entrepreneurs

The workplace is full of jerks.

It’s why many millennials like me end up quitting and starting an online business. We get tired of the drama. It drains the blood from our eyes.

A jerk is a foolish person that lurks in the workplace. They come in many forms. If you can identify them, you can repel their toxicity.

Johnny on the spot

Johnny on the spot is always ready to put out fires. They’re early to every meeting and way too eager.

If they get a work call while on their honeymoon or at the birth of their first child, they’ll answer it with a huge smile. You’ll think they won the lottery.

This silly eagerness leads to overworking. Eventually they burn out… then crash and burn. The chance of divorce is high too because they foolishly can’t say no. Leaders abuse their compliance.

How to deal with them

Try to get them to understand that there’s more to life than work. Try show them they’re not a puppy dog that needs to roll over after every command.

If they refuse to listen, well, you tried. Stand back and pray for them.

Wood ducks

This term comes from the car sales industry.

In this world a customer comes up to the dealership. They’ll look at a new car as if it’s an underwear model. The salesperson will start listing the features.

“Ohhh you’ll love this car it’s got a sunroof.”

“Reallyyyyyyyy like OMG. And the sun shines through the hole in the roof?”

“Yep, you betcha pal,” says the salesperson.

A wood duck is gullible. They believe everything their employer says. They’re the ones that go to town hall meetings and get excited when the CEO presents the rewritten values for the fifth time, that no one follows.

They believe their employer actually wants to do something other than make a boatload of profit.

These people are jerks because they prevent change from happening with their fragile, naive minds.

How to deal with them


The bulldozers

Bulldozers enter the meeting room after they’re unloaded by the leadership dump truck.

I used to work with one of them. He was a big man with a giant stomach going over his pants. He smelt worse than the toilets at the Dodgers Stadium after a game. The work clothes he wore were fresh out of 1969.

We called him fossil.

When he got brought in things got bad. We tried to make a change to a finance product that was causing customer tech outages. The supplier of the tech platform was a piece of crap. They had constant outages for one year straight.

No apology. No compensation.

We found a new supplier who could guarantee the uptime of their tech platform. Mr Bulldozer did everything he could to stop it.

He’d make up lies about the new supplier. He would produce fake reports showing our platform was more stable than it was. He’d even drag customers into the room who said they liked our current product. (The customer was always a tiny shop with no revenue and hardly used the platform.)

We eventually lost the war against the bulldozer.

The tech platform continued to go down and no new solution arrived. Over $1 billion of clients left as a result. Idiot.

The obvious trait with a bulldozer is they refuse to listen. They talk over the top of you. They stand at the front and lecture you. They think they’re the smartest person in the room. They worship years warming an office chair versus commonsense and innovation.

They’re typically well-connected though — and they know it. This gives them leverage.

The leadership enablers who let these loud beasts run free do so because of past performance. Leaders use bulldozers to shut down hot topics and prevent debate. Little do the bulldozers know, they’re the fall guy if crap hits the fan.

How to deal with them

Challenge them with data. Or if the issue doesn’t matter then walk away and let them win.

“Choose your battles” as they say.

Eddie Expert

Many people you work with learned one hack, skill, or arbitrage in their first year at a job then went on to repeat it for decades and call it a career.

Eddie Experts think their experience makes them superior. They’re the ones that speak up in a meeting about the history of some random company event everyone has forgotten.

They’ll typically finish sentences and think they have the answer before the question is spoken. Their level of expertise is annoying as hell.

When something has changed, that Eddie Expert is not aware of, they’ll say “Yep, I already knew that.” They hate new information.

Over-information is their status symbol. Information overload and arrogance are the viruses they spread.

How to deal with them

Kill ’em with kindness (and factual data). Don’t get into debates. Send a bulldozer their way if you have to 🙂

The kiss asses

One way to level up your career is to kiss the butt of every leader who can give you a promotion or bonus.

I prefer not to as the smell isn’t nice.

Kiss asses we’ll say whatever is the inthing. If it’s all about innovation then they’ll repeat the phrase 100 times in a day if they have to.

If the hot topic is diversity then they’ll say “we need to be more inclusive on this issue” in an email with half the company leaders cc’d. Everything they do is fake.

It’s about climbing the corporate ladder to nowhere, as opposed to doing meaningful work that helps the world.

How to deal with them

Let them quietly understand over lunch one day that you know their game.

Say “I know you don’t really believe any of that” … then smile. Kiss asses will stay clear of you if they know that you’re aware of their secret.

Johnny come lately

Johnny come lately is late to the party on everything.

They’re always out of the loop. They have no clue. They’re dangerous to their employer because their complete lack of awareness means they’re likely to be a casualty at the next restructure.

Sometimes it’s laziness. Sometimes it’s a simple I-don’t-give-a-fudge attitude.

Spend too much time with come-latelys, and you could find yourself in hot water. It’s foolish not to know at least the basics of what’s happening with your employer.

How to deal with them

Try to bring them up to speed on what they need to know. If they flat out refuse continuously then let them fall on their incompetence sword.

The clearly dumb bosses

Let’s finish with a bang.

The worst type of work jerk is a dumb boss. I worked with one a few years ago. The little devil got up on stage at our company’s International Women’s Day event and gave a speech.

He talked about how important women are and how he’s so proud of his daughter. I had a tear in my eye.

Then he got off stage and walked over to where we were standing. I was next to three men, and one other female leader who’d just got off stage too.

“Well that was a crock of crap. All this virtue-signaling is stupid. I mean we gave them a cake. What else do they want?”

Our mouths dropped to the floor. His comments were not only wrong, but they missed the whole issue entirely. And worse, he said all of this in public where he could easily have got reported.

His boss would have fired him if she knew his thoughts — she was the organizer of the event!

How to deal with them

Quit bad bosses. Choose a leader. Change jobs and work for a leader who understands the advantages (for all) of basic equality.

Closing Thought

Work jerks come in many forms. Their errors in judgment are painful to watch. Do your best to navigate the stormy waters. If all else fails, avoid them and get on with your career. You can’t save everyone.

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