Jerk Management


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We have all encountered our fair share of jerks and have the wounds to prove it. The question is “How do you manage these (usually) men?” The key premise here, which for some is difficult to accept, is that, You cannot change the behavior of the jerk only your response to him.

 The Portrait of a Jerk

A jerk is often experienced as a highly self-centered and abusive person with almost no consideration for others. Jerks come in the guise of a,

 Professor who put you down in front of the class

Colleague who sexually harasses you

Boss who consistently claimed credit for your ideas

(Add your version)

We can analyze how they became jerks until we are blue in the face. However, our time is better spent in knowing how to manage them.

 Jerk Management

From the start we have to realize that jerk management is exceptionally difficult especially since they often catch us unawares with their toxic behavior. But when we anticipate an ambush, it helps us be better prepared. While we cannot change them we can adapt out response through,

  1. Resistance.

Fighting back could be your ultimate act of self-respect. This fight could be the use of the law (as in the case of sexual harassment) or firmly standing up to them in public. Whether we resist or not is a judgment call on our part. Sometimes it stops the jerk in his tracks. In other instances it backfires on us and he finds other ways to strike back.

  1. Resignation.

Walking away from a fight is wise at times especially if the jerk is a boss who holds your future career in his hands. Such disengagement could be everything from detachment to “getting out of Dodge”.

  1. Reflection

Life with a jerk could be viewed as one of our teachers. Here the lesson is that we should not take his actions as a commentary on our defects. We can reflect on his behavior by thinking, “Its his problem. I’m not going to be dragged into believing that there is something wrong with me.”

I wish you all the best in managing the jerk in your life. Remember there is a certain amount of victory in outliving your opposition or as one person said after her divorce “Success is the best revenge!”

How have you managed the jerk in your life?


 You may want to read the book “Assholes” by Aaron James

About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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