*New on the blog: our Leadership Coaching Clinic, in which we answer your questions about problems you’re facing in the office, whether it’s how to handle a bad boss, how to deal with a difficult team member, or some other issue that you’re getting stuck on. Email your questions to: email@example.com.*
Question: How do I deal with controlling, obnoxious, jerk egos who are negatively impacting my engagement at work?
It’s easy to get frustrated when confronted with this kind of negative behaviour, and unfortunately it often becomes a vicious cycle: as we come to expect it, we see it more and more, and we ourselves tense up and act more negatively as a result.
In terms of how to cope, it depends a little on who these people are.
How to deal with a jerk in the office
If it’s a question of someone in the office with whom you have little interaction, then reducing that interaction to the minimum might be a sensible approach. Unless you are obliged to work with them, try to avoid them as much as possible and to ignore their comments and behaviour when your paths do happen to cross.
How to deal with a horrible boss
If it’s your boss, then although you may not like her or her way of doing things she is still your boss, with all the experience, credibility, and allies in the company that come with that position. You can either fight that, or you can accept that she’s your boss and try to work with her rather than against her. Ask her to clarify her expectations and then over-deliver on those expectations; do what you can to make her job easier; and, most of all, help her to help you – and you’ll find that even a horrible boss will contribute to making you a better leader. If nothing else, you can learn how not to act as a leader or manager!
How to deal with an obnoxious team member
For a colleague in your team, the best way to deal with this situation is to look for the positive. I can assure you that he has been given this job for a reason, so find it! You can definitely find at least one thing! What is he good at? Perhaps he’s a good speaker? A skilled networker? A strategic thinker? There’s always something that you can learn from each and every person you come across.
Regardless of your relationship with these individuals, the basic fact remains that it is only your own behaviour that you can control. This means that the best course of action will always be to work on yourself first and foremost. Focus on your own personal and business objectives, on doing a good job and on not being distracted by the unprofessional behaviour of other people. Remind yourself that it’s their problem, it’s not about you, and go about your business.
Of course, if it gets really bad, you might consider talking to your boss or to HR; or else looking for a new role, either in a different team or in a different company, with a more constructive environment where you’ll be able to thrive.
Do you have an issue at work you’d like us to address? Email your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.