Career success

A Quick Guide to Jerks At Work

This is a cynical guide for sure. Basically what you must understand that jerks often win at work, and that most of your tactics to shut down the jerk don't work in the long run.


Bad people win at work all the time.


Not all psychopaths are in prison – some are in the board room.

- Robert Hare, 'The Predators Among Us'


A Wall Street Journal summarizes the various studies showing that people with psychopathic, narcissistic and /or Machiavellian tendencies to get better salaries and more leadership roles than the rest of us.


The three dark personality types are:

- Psychopathy: These people are dishonest, egocentric, reckless, and cruel than the population average- these people are totally anti-human and casual about it

- Narcissism: These people will promote themselves- they are in love with themselves

- Machiavellian: There people are known for superficial charm, interpersonal manipulation, deceit, ruthlessness, and impulsivity -seeing people as things to be manipulated for personal gains.


The journal reported that:

(An) analysis of all the scientific studies published between 1951 and 2011, Machiavelliism, narcissism, and psychopathy were all positively linked with counterproductive work behaviors and poor organizational citizenship, and Machiavellianism and psychopathy were also negatively linked to actual job performance (as opposed to career success).


And that,

...(reports) highlighted, “Ponzi schemes, internet fraud, embezzlement, insider trading, corruption, and malfeasance can all be attributed to dark triad personality traits.


(Source: The Wall Street Journal)


The two courses of behavior at work: The nice way (“Begin with praise and honest appreciation- Dale Carnegie) or the not nice way (“Nice guys finish last, “It is far better to be feared than loved- Machiavelli).


The ethical way for the writer is to tell you to do the right. Sorry for the cliche, this post is ridden with cliches so far, isn't it? But, rather that you should do what is right for you, and try to be nice sometimes at least.


Support for the 'nice guys finish first' way: The book 'Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success', by Adam Grant gives evidence that “givers—people who share their time, contacts, or know-how without expectation of payback- often go to the top of their fields.


Support for the 'nice guys finish last' way: The popular example of Steve Jobs, who everyone says was not a good person to work for, and one is putting it as nicely as possible. A Dutch university study showed that semi-obnoxious behavior (that is, without going 100% jerk) makes people more powerful. Basically, it says that treating people as dirt, coming off as a stand-alone snob who doesn't say much, gets more people' to do stuff for themselves' (basic definition of manager and leader types) than nice ones are able to do.


But another studies have pointed out that you can go on being a jerk, and thrive as long as the people you put down continually, benefits from it. Why else would have Steve Jobs been allowed to get away with his behavior for so long? Apple is the most cash rich company in the world today.


Most tactics for dealing with jerks do not work:


- Avoiding the jerk (ignoring emails, no face-to-face talk) only works for a short while if the jerk is your boss , or someone you have to work with on a daily basis.


- Fighting fire with fire (jerk shouts at you, you shout back louder etc) rarely works. If you must do it, do it when you two are alone, or else the jerk will try to garner all the sympathy, when you do it in public (cafeteria, party etc).


- Complaining to HR or boss-of-boss doesn't work for long if they think the jerk is valuable to them, they will just nod and nod, and the jerk will try to show things as if the jerk was was being victimized.


Life goes on.


Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life.  Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.