Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How Leaders Deal with "Jerks"

It is not unusual for developing leaders to be challenged by the "Jerk." You know that person recognizing and threatened by your personal or professional development. You're getting ahead and they aren't. A common 'new' experience for a leader is an increase in Jerk encounters.

Developing the leadership skills to respond swiftly and effectively is really quite easy.I define a “jerk” as typically a person who verbally attacks fellow employees with blows non-related to work performance, is self absorbed, insecure and mean. The Jerk can be likened to a terrorist or a three year old on the playground.

Here are a few tips for dealing with a Jerk when his actions are directed at you:

  1. Don’t ignore them – they expect you to shy away and it empowers them to continue.
  2. Do look the Jerk in the eye and smile at them with pity. Recall the phrase “I pity the fool…!” in your mind.
  3. Don’t wait – time diminishes the power of your non verbal ‘higher road’ response.
  4. The proper response to their “What?” is a controlled, “I think you know what. If you truly are confused please come see me later and I’ll help you to understand." The later statement strips him of his power and requires him to respond positively under your terms. My estimate is that 9 out of 10 times a real Jerk will not follow up – they know exactly “What” they’ve done.
  5. Don’t negotiate or debate with terrorists or three year olds.
  6. Do immediately disengage and return to whatever you were doing before your encounter with the Jerk.

Enjoy the fact that the Jerk no longer enjoys behaving like one around you. Remember we can not change people, only their behavior around us.

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