7 Types of Jerks Found in Every Office

Everybody is aggravating to somebody some of the time. A jerk is aggravating to everybody all the time.

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By John Boitnott

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Put any group of people together 40 hours a week and you're likely to have a few problems. There will always be at least one person who gets on someone's nerves, whether they bring it to management's attention or not. It might be easy to ignore the situation and hope it goes away, but all too often these office jerks disrupt productivity and cause serious morale issues.

Whether you're in management or working alongside the office jerk, it's important to learn to identify and manage the office jerk. Here are a few types of problem people in the office, as well as advice on how to deal with them.

1. One who creates a hostile work environment.

This type of jerk is perhaps the most dangerous, since the behavior can lead to legal action. This person often makes inappropriate comments that are perceived as offensive to at least one person in the office. Training can help reduce a business's liability but in some cases, termination is the only option.

2. The tattler.

From a young age, children are taught that tattling is bad. In the office environment, tattling often comes in the form of CC'ing a person's supervisor on complaints. In employee trainings and communications, emphasize the importance of following proper protocol in dealing with issues. If an employee can't reach a resolution with another employee, that employee should go to his or her own boss rather than going over the employee's head.

Related: 10 Ways Jerks, Whiners and Bullies Ruin a Business

3. The messy one.

If a person's work area is messy, that often doesn't affect other people. However, those who don't clean up their own messes in break rooms or restrooms can quickly become a nuisance. Management should make it clear that employees are responsible for cleaning up their own messes and if it continues to be a problem, the employee should be addressed directly.

4. The noisy one.

Thanks to the popularity of open-plan offices, employees now often work with minimal barriers around them. This can lead to distractions that dramatically reduce their productivity. Noisy coworkers come across as selfish, since they don't seem to care that they're affecting those around them. If noise-canceling headphones aren't an option, it may be necessary to ask the employee to reduce the chatter.

Related: How to Deal With Jerks

5. The backstabber.

It can be difficult to avoid backstabbers, since they can exist at every level of an organization. There are bosses who steal ideas and claim them as their own and coworkers who rush to undermine their colleagues at the first opportunity. You'll need to tread carefully with backstabbers. Document your work and make sure you build strong working relationships with others in the office.

6. The bully or gossip.

In any group of people, bullying or gossiping can be a problem. It easily creates a hostile work environment. It's important to avoid participating in this type of activity but if you find yourself the target of such negativity, there are a few things you can do to keep it at a minimum. Make sure you remain professional at all times and the gossips will often be the ones who look bad.

7. The saboteur.

Sometimes despite your best efforts, a coworker will deliberately try to make you look bad. When this type of sabotage happens, it's important not to sink down to the other person's level. Instead, correspond with the person via email to have a paper trail and make sure others are present who can back you up if you end up in trouble over something.

Related: Are You a Jerk? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

In addition to knowing how to handle office jerks, it's important to recognize these "don'ts" to avoid committing them yourself. By recognizing these behaviors and handling them professionally, you'll avoid doing career damage by getting involved in drama in the workplace.

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

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