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We all come off like jerks at one point or another. We don’t mean it, but it happens. Our differences make this happen and thank goodness for our differences, right?

So, what do you do when you work with someone who rubs you the wrong way? The person probably isn’t really a jerk, or at least let’s agree he or she doesn’t want to be a jerk…but they rub you that way.

Work can be stressful, and stress brings out our least favorable behaviors. Eckhart Tolle says, when you can be around those who push your buttons and let it pass through you, you are enlightened. I can’t claim to be enlightened but I can claim to be more tolerant of the differences in others because of a few things I’ve learned about myself and others.

So, how do we not let the jerk at work get to us?

  • Understand what they want and need – and give it to them:if they are detail oriented, respect that and don’t be vague; if they are social butterflies then plan for a few minutes of socializing; if they are direct, then be direct; if saying hello every time you pass them in the hall makes the relationship better for them, then say hello.
  • Understand what you want and need and then share that information with them:if you know you need things to move fast and they prefer a slower pace, prepare to slow down and ask them to prepare to speed up.
  • Learn to admire the differences of others:If you really want to make your work environment more pleasant, adapt to meet the needs of others – you need them for their differences.

It is a choice we make in every interaction whether to adapt to the other or not. I notice when I am in a good place and conscious, it’s easy. When I am not in a good place and choose not to adapt, I may just be the jerk. As my friend Sammye says, “I try, and I like that about myself!”

Emily Bass inspires great leadership using assessment-based strategies for Executive CoachingEssential Skills Workshops and her one-of-a-kind Adventure Leadership Summit. Join Emily on Facebook, LinkedIn and stay connected by reading her Blog.