Leadership Strategies: Let the jerks at work be your teachers

Angry boss concept as an outraged business manager with a short temper blowing steam and foaming at the mouth as a corporate symbol for anger and stress at work.

 My advice to those of you dealing with less than ideal personalities at work:  Let the jerks at work be your teachers.

Here’s an email that I think belongs to all of us as we search for meaning at work, I think we all want more than just a paycheck. We want a place to grow and reach full potential.

This is what John, a client of mine wrote to me about the frustration of dealing with work jerks.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

Why are there so many jerks at work, actually so many jerks in the world in general and how do we make the shift to let the jerks at work be your teachers?

I struggle with how to keep calm and cool when these folks start to annoy me. Sometimes I wonder if maybe, I’m the real jerk and I just don’t want to admit it.

I tell myself that I’m OK, that I’m good and smart and kind, and fun. It’s them, damn it. They are the ones who ruffle my feathers because they are irresponsible, dumb, and ornery.

I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and look the other way when these jerks annoy me. I don’t confront them. I just make nasty comments to myself and gt on with my work.

Question, how do you handle the jerks in your life?

I was impressed when you talked about the guy who had sociopath written on his forehead and you still ignored what you felt and knew and decided to have him do some marketing work for you. Yet, you kept telling yourself he was a true jerk to work with.

That was, until you looked at a part of your ego that was still in need of being appreciated, even though the relationship was built on lack of character, built of pure baloney.

I’d appreciate some insights so I can, as you say so often, get at observation of why these irresponsible, dumb, and ornery people bother me.

Best,

John

Dear John,

Your question shows that you are a searcher, one of the aspects of developing powerful character traits. Once you do battle with your ego (something we all have to do) it’s a sign you’re moving to a higher level of maturity.

Just know, that building a strong character is a lifelong process.

Here’s what I see and hear from what you wrote. You want healthy relationships at work, everywhere. And work is a great place to do deep research and look at who rubs you the wrong way and figure out why.

You see, personal family relationships are more complex and multi-layered, therefore more difficult to observe. So, let’s stay with the jerks at work for now.

If someone bugs you who is irresponsible, dumb, or ornery it could possibly because you are the opposite. Question, do you think you are always the responsible one, the smart, one the agreeable one?

Often being the upstanding individual may become exhausting. And, just maybe you would love to slack off, not have all the answers, and maybe be nasty at times.

It’s not fun to look at what is called “the dark side.” However, shedding light here is really enlightening.

In my upcoming webinar, I will discuss ways to develop strong character and look at those who bother you as a gift for future development.

Life is full of ways to grow and develop. Let the jerks at work be your teachers.

Sylvia Lafair

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