• Work assholes are destructive to your health
  • They can ruin your work and home life
  • Deal with and manage work assholes with key strategies
  • Final option: get another job in or out of the company
So, it’s yet another day at work - groan - will Friday ever come?

You’ve rolled out of bed still tired, the kids are coming down with colds, you haven’t seen your other half in weeks, and the cherry on top of this moldering pie?

You have a meeting with Colleague Asshole today.

Let’s say at this point, we really, really feel for you because we know Colleague Asshole. Not your particular one, but because there are SO DAMN MANY we’ve certainly encountered him along the way.

Let’s hear a round of sarcastic applause for Patronizing Pete, Idea-Stealing Stephanie, and Passive-Aggressive Adam.

Way to go, guys. You really do make our working life a stressful stomach-churning drag.

You know what?

They don’t deserve our emotional effort and, also, what a bunch of pricks. Seriously, what is the matter with some people?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably going through some unworthy amount of bullshit.

Go get a cup of tea and sit down with us while we figure out a way to deal with this problem.


Seriously, go get a cup of herbal or green tea.

We’ll be waiting right here for you.


Why It’s Important To Deal With Workplace Assholes

Don’t underestimate them - asshole colleagues are a very real problem for us cubicle hostages. From the inappropriate jokers, to the slopey-shouldered work-shy jerks, and the outright vicious bullies, they all make our work lives miserable.

They Ruin Your Health

Plain and simple - workplace assholes can really mess up your health.

The effects of stress on the body are significant. Constant stress, which is what workplace assholes provide you with, can cause these physical health problems:

- High Blood Pressure
- Frequent colds
- Reduced immune system
- Insomnia
- Headaches
- Bowel Problems

Plus, if you are one of those folks that comfort eats (like us), snacking can cause waistline expansion.

Snacking on mini broccoli and carrots are not really satisfying when you’re feeling down are they? But the decadent piece of moist and rich chocolate birthday cake in the break room always does the trick. And there’s never enough time in the day to exercise.

So, that’s how these assholes are wrecking your physical health, but that's not enough for them because they’re also destroying your mental health.

The effects of workplace assholes are significant factors in mental health difficulties. Stress can cause anxiety, depression and all sorts of other mental anguish.

They Ruin Your Relationships

We know you’re a good person but working in an environment with nasty people rubs off.

It’s contagious.

If you’re tired, under time pressure, or have authority over another person, that asshole-ness can come raging to the forefront.

This behavior can happen not only in the working environment, but can also easily spread at home with your spouse and children.
This quick little 3.5 minute video from DNews (now Seeker) explains the science behind how rudeness can easily spread.

VIDEO: Being A Jerk May Not Be Your Fault
LENGTH: 3:36
Summary points:
  • Rudeness is contagious
  • Rudeness changes your world outlook
  • Calling out rudeness helps
So, if you’re trying to deal with a workplace asshole, take a close look at your own behavior and make sure you’re not projecting the same old shit onto other work colleagues or your loved ones.

They Ruin Your Career

Workplace jerks create so much stress and negativity that they stifle your creativity and productivity. This stress means you can’t do the great job you’re capable of.

Stress can rewire the brain, causing a meltdown in the decision-making area - the one we use to make productive and intelligent decisions at work.

According to this study from the Mental Health Foundation, the main causes of work related stress are workload pressures and - wait for it - interpersonal relationships at work.

See? You’re not alone.

We’re not going to judge you for snapping and letting loose with every curse word under the sun, but you don’t want a black mark against your record, or God forbid, have to issue that asshole an apology.

No effing way.

You’d rather chew off your own arm.

Assholes have a lot to answer for. It’s a crying shame there are so many.

8 Great Ways To Deal With Workplace Assholes

So, what can you do about a workplace jerk and all the other assholes that are lined up at the office, just waiting to let their rude, ill-informed and downright offensive opinions loose all over your working day?

Sticking two pencils up your nose and head-butting the desk is an attractive option right now because dealing with workplace assholes can feel like a mammoth task.

But you’re up to the job.

We know it and we’re here to help.

Here are some techniques to get that asshole off your shoulders.

1) Can You Get Another Job?

No seriously, could you? Excel spreadsheets are a thing of magic.

You can plan your finances years ahead with a spreadsheet. Keeping track of what you spend allows you to see what you could cut out, and whether a different job with a potentially lower salary might be feasible.

If you’re so stressed and upset about your colleague or manager’s behavior, then cutting out the gym membership that you never use, the bloated satellite/cable TV subscription bundle, Whole Foods Paycheck groceries and those lavish holiday vacations will all build up your safety funds to jump ship.

But, don’t be stupid and just quit without having another job lined up.

During your free time at home, polish your resume, update your LinkedIn profile, clean-up your social media and start actively searching and applying for new jobs.

However, keep in mind that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. You may be leaving one problem for another because you don’t have an internal view of the other company.

And this is exactly what you have right now. You’re already an insider at your current company. You have access to and visibility of the organization.

Why not move to another part of the organization? To another position where you wouldn’t have to interact with that work jerk.

You might already know which teams gel and the managers with good reputations. Maybe, it’s time to make some noise about joining another team.

This short 1.5 minute video from Stanford University professor Bob Sutton explains why a sideways move might be the way out.

VIDEO: Workplace Jerks - What They Do and Getting Away the Smart Way
YOUTUBE: Stanford Alumni
LENGTH: 1:31
Summary points:
  • Being a victim of a workplace jerk is unhealthy
  • Jerks are bad for you and you need to do something about it
  • Don’t quit your job; think about an internal move instead
So, if you’re dealing with workplace assholes, leaving the organization may not be the best move - consider a lateral move instead.

In many cases, a lot of HR departments prefer finding a better fit within the organization for employees than to go out and recruit new ones, which costs money.

If you’ve been an above average to top player, make it a promotional move up at the same time. If you can swing this, it’s the best way to get out.

2) Turn The Tables

Meaning, turn the tables on the asshole and use his or her behavior to benefit yourself.

We know this sounds crazy, but hear us out.

When there’s a stressor that can’t be avoided or changed, you have to either adapt to it or accept it. More specifically in this example, it’s all about accepting it by using their behavior to improve yourself.

See the asshole as a free training tool for your self-improvement. He or she is NOT going to kill you. There is no life-threatening situation here - really. So, why not take advantage of them by using them as an internal mental training tool?

With each event that you experience, use that moment to strengthen your mental confidence, willpower, communication, negotiation or dare we say, manipulation tactics.

As you interact with them more often, you’ll start to build up keen office savvy skills and develop a tougher mind.
This is an important point: do this in small incremental steps to get tiny wins early. Then, build up slowly from there and work your way up.

This is a unique and tough strategy, but one that will provide you with real-world interpersonal skills that will pay off in your career for years on end.

3) Put Your Foot Down

We’re all for politeness. Everyone should be treated with respect - it’s not the 18th century anymore.

If someone is humiliating you, putting you down, or saying inappropriate things, you have to make a stand, alright? And don’t back down. We got your back.

Speaking up is hard to do but assholes are often bullies and bullies need to realize they can’t hustle you into the corner.

Calmness and constant eye contact is the way. Don’t be the first to break ‘the look’. This is essential because the class one a-hole needs to know you mean business.

Make that all-essential eye contact and repeat ’Your rudeness is unacceptable and I expect you to stop’.

That might be enough to do the trick. If someone realizes their ‘jokes’ are insulting, they may refrain in future.

If they’re a bully, it may put a stop to their pushy behavior. However, be prepared for the possibility of taking it further with management after laying down the law.

If you’re thinking ‘I can’t do that, seriously I don’t have the nerve, I might cry or lose my temper’ think about how you are doing this to protect your family.

This asshole’s behavior is rubbing off on you.

Remember last week when you snapped at your kid and made them cry because you were stressed about work?

It’s this asshole’s fault.

We’re all better at standing up for loved ones than ourselves, it’s just human nature.

4) Keep Contact to a Minimum

This isn’t avoidance.

It’s actively keeping the asshole at 50 paces so you don’t get upset or wound up.

The first step is to move your desk if need be. Moving so you’re out of ear-shot can help keep stress levels down.

Is there some else, an actual human being for example, that you could go to instead when you need to make contact with said asshole - someone like their boss or an assistant?

If interacting with the asshole is inevitable, use email or the phone to minimize contact. Some professionals suggest a ‘stand up’ meeting without chairs so it’s kept swift.

If you receive what we call an ‘explosive email’ or nasty phone call - one that brings down the red mist or closes your throat to the point of asphyxiation. Here’s what you do.

Stay calm and do not reply to the email. If you’re on the phone say ‘I’ll have to get back to you’.

Then, go for a walk, get a non-caffeinated drink, call a friend for a blood pressure reducing rant.

If it’s a particularly bad one, reply after a few days. This gives you a chance to remain professional and measured in your response.

5) Practice Detachment

Have you ever floated off to a better place when you’re doing a meaningless chore?

Fantasizing about a peaceful vacation when you’re commuting, or what you might do with a lottery win for example.

Of course you have - this is detachment.

Try to implement detachment when you’re dealing with the asshole.

‘Uh-huh or ‘yeah’ are acceptable replies to their venom. Let it bounce off your skin, after all, there are more important people in the world that deserve your emotional involvement. This major a-hole does not deserve your interest.

Water off a duck’s back is a flippant term, but not allowing sheer dick-headedness get to you is sometimes the only way you’re able to work with them.

6) Is That A Booger?

One trick we developed while stuck in a room with a bunch of absolute dicks was this nifty little trick that really unnerves.

When the cretin is talking crap about you, maybe in a room of co-workers, focus your eyes on their nose or hair and keep looking at that spot with interest.

They’ll notice and think they have snot or food on their face. This takes away their power base because they look like the dick they are.

Childish, us? Sometimes, it’s the little wins that save your soul.

7) Be A Great Co-Worker

Many assholes, for some inexplicable reason, have the ear of everyone else in the building. Whatever you do to displease them, they will tell others and make you look incompetent or rude.

This can really damage your promotion prospects and make your social interactions extremely difficult.

So, be kind and supportive to your co-workers. Have a laugh and smile more. Help them out when you can, remember their kid’s name, and offer to get them a cup of coffee or tea.

Build good standing in your workplace and the asshole is less likely to turn the office against you.

It’s the ultimate good versus evil and we all know that in the end, good always prevails.

8) Be Nice to the Asshole. Wait, What?

Here’s a shocker - be nice to the jerk.

Benjamin Franklin psyched people out with this technique. Do the a-hole a favor or ask them for advice. It may stick in your throat but can it hurt to try?

We once asked a particularly horrible office manager for their advice on dealing with a nasty co-worker. It actually worked. In future meetings, they had far less attitude and way more respect.

Okay, It’s NOT Working 

The best laid plans, eh? Don’t worry - you can’t polish a turd.

Some people are just plain nasty and enjoy making others miserable.

All companies have HR policies that outline acceptable behavior. Get a copy of yours and read it thoroughly.

It’s Time to Document
Instead of flying off the handle and accusing the asshole of being a total dick or bitch, start a jerk journal.

Record and report every incident that demeans, upsets, bullies or intimidates - you get the picture. All those instances that are against HR policy. Date them and time them.

This is invaluable in the fight to push them out - Viva La Resistance!

Strength in Numbers
Are others badly treated by the asshole in question?

We aren’t suggesting you gossip, but talking to someone in the same boat will help. A problem shared is a problem halved. This support will give you strength and it’s the start of a united front.

Numbers will also give you the ammunition to take a bully down.

Management will take much more notice of several co-workers complaining about the same person than an individual complaint which could be dismissed as a personality clash.

If colleagues aren’t an actual victim of the asshole in question, they can be vital witnesses if it comes to a formal complaint.

Remaining Calm Is Vital
Some people just push your buttons, don’t they?

Whether they make you so furious that cartoon steam blasts from your ears or they are so insulting you sob in the bathroom, you must keep it together in the workplace.
Deep breathing will slow down your heart rate and lower your blood pressure from scaling the heights.

Smokers know that a cigarette will calm them after a stressful situation, but it’s not the cigarette that works, it’s the slow deep inhalation.

We’re not suggesting you start smoking. Instead, keep yourself calm and head out for a walk in the fresh air.

Losing it in the office has the adverse effect of making you look like the unreliable, unstable coworker to avoid and the asshole gets away with it once more.

Moving Forward

So, now we know that workplace assholes cause health problems, derail your career, and create relationship issues. It’s not really something you can keep a lid on until retirement.

So here’s what to do.

Work your way through our list of ways to deal with the workplace asshole.

Start with distancing and as having as little interaction as possible.

Then, work up to strong eye contact and capable but non-aggressive “Your rudeness is unacceptable and I expect you to stop.”

Remember, you’re using them as a training tool for your skills improvement.

If this doesn’t work, give serious thought to starting a jerk journal and record-n-report all the instances of asshole behavior to HR for documentation.

If these suggestions don’t make a difference and your working life is intolerable, moving to another role in your company could be a good move for you.

Taking yourself away from a toxic person can make such a huge difference to your outlook on life.

If you can’t get away, squish their head with your thumb and forefinger.

VIDEO: Crush Your Head Commercial
YOUTUBE: PieterRedele
LENGTH: 1:03
Summary points:
  • Mouse clicks really do give your index finger a work out
  • Squishing heads is really good stress relief
If all else fails, a new job is in the cards.

Your health, career and relationships are more important than sticking it out in misery every day.

Prep your finances, put out the feelers and do your due diligence in researching other opportunities in other departments or outside of the company. Just the act of thinking about changing positions can make you feel happier.

In the meantime, you need to counteract the stress that’s building up inside of you. Follow our ultimate beginner’s guide to managing work stress and start using the short-term tactics today to dial down the stress asap.

Keep your chin up, my love, and begin making the changes you need to be work asshole-free and happy. You can do it.

Feel Better,

more on cubicle life