How to Stop Being the Office Jerk

Working in an office has its ups and downs, and you’ll deal with all types of personalities. There might be a quiet, shy person in the office, an energetic person or someone who’s sensitive. And in just about every office, there’s likely to be at least one jerk.

See Also: Common Signs of a Bad Boss

It’s easy to point the finger and identify the faults in those we work with. But before criticizing your coworkers, there’s an important question to ask yourself: ‘Am I the office jerk?’

Your coworkers might not call you a jerk to your face. However, if you get a certain vibe or it seems like you’re always rubbing your coworkers the wrong way, there’s a good chance that your behavior fits the description of the office jerk. You can change your past behavior, but you can take steps to improve the relationship with your coworkers. Here are nine tips to help you stop being the office jerk.

1. Watch Your Tone

When talking with your coworkers, it’s important to adjust your tone when delivering a message. Sometimes, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. If you’re the type of person who talks over others or raises the voice in order to get your point across, coworkers might view this as jerk-like behavior. Additionally, you might be the office jerk if you talk louder in order to intimidate people and make them do what you want. The office isn’t a classroom and these aren’t your children. For everyone to have a good day and work well together, it’s important to respect each other. Treat your coworkers and speak to them in the same manner you want to be treated.

2. Don't Take Credit for Someone Else's Work

If you want to lose your jerk reputation in the office, you need to stop taking credit for someone else’s work or stealing their ideas. If you’re shooting the breeze with a coworker or having lunch together, and he tosses around a few ideas, don’t run to your boss and present these ideas as your own. Or if you receive assistance on a project, don’t take all the credit for the work and not acknowledge the help you received by others in the office. Not sharing the spotlight is one of the fastest ways to rub your coworkers the wrong way and develop a jerk reputation.

3. Take Responsibility for Your Actions

As the office jerk, you might be quick to take credit for someone else’s work or ideas, but when it’s time to own up to your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions, you’re quick to point the finger and blame others. Understandably, most people have a difficult time admitting when they’re wrong. However, throwing your coworkers under the bus and making yourself look like the victim when problems arise isn’t going to help you win points with your coworkers or your employer.

4. Realize That Rules Also Apply to You

Some people think the office rules don’t apply to them. Yet, they’re quick to point out when other people in the office break the rules. For example, your employer might have a strict policy against eating at your desk or workstation. You might be quick to remind your coworkers about this rule if you see them munching away while working, yet you practice the same behavior and have the audacity to get upset when someone brings it to your attention. It doesn’t matter if you agree or don’t agree with the rules set by your employer, the rules apply to everyone and you should do your best to follow them.

5. Don't Make Others Look Bad

In order to get a head and move up in the company, an office jerk might make a habit of making his coworkers look bad. At the end of the day, you’re all working toward a similar goal. There needs to be trust and team work in the workplace, or else it might be hard to hit targets and deadlines as a group. If you don’t have your coworker’s back, don’t expect them to have yours. This doesn’t mean you can’t bring serious problems to your employer’s attention. But you should pick your battles and let go of small issues. Tattle-telling or always calling out your coworkers for their behavior not only makes you look like a jerk, but also immature or childish.

6. Respect Boundaries

You might think you’re having fun or just playing around, but if you don’t respect boundaries and treat everyone in the office with respect, you’re going to have a jerk reputation. It’s okay to joke around and have fun in the workplace, but there’s a right and a wrong time for fun, and you need to recognize boundaries. Rude jokes and comments aren’t likely to go over well with those you work with. If you’re not sure how a coworker will respond or take a joke you want to tell, it’s best to keep quiet. And if you find that certain behavioral traits annoy those you work with, make changes and yield to the feelings. 

7. Don't Suck up

Sucking up to the boss might win brownie points with your employer, but this is also a surefire way to be labeled the office jerk. It doesn’t matter how bad or ridiculous your employer is, or how miserable he makes the workday, you might side with your boss on every single issue. You’re not siding with him because you agree, but because you’re trying to kiss up and make yourself look good in order to get ahead faster. It might work, but you also risk alienating yourself from colleagues.

8. Stop Being Self-Centered

It’s important to realize that you work in an office with other people, so you need to be aware of your surroundings. Being selfish or self-centered is a quick way to lose friends in the office. Do you have conference calls on speaker and then leave your office door wide open? Do you have a habit of always talking loudly around others when they’re on a phone call. Or maybe you play your music loudly, not caring about those around you. These actions can be very distracting to your coworkers. As a rule of thumb, consider how your actions affect others in the office. This isn’t your world, and the sooner you realize this, the sooner you can lose your jerk reputation.

9. Carry Your Weight

Your coworkers may also think you’re the office jerk if you don’t carry your weight. Overall productivity involves everyone doing their part and handling their assignments on time. However, you might do a good job of making yourself “look” busy while contributing less than others. Your coworkers aren’t stupid and they’ll eventually realize your game. Rather than sit back and let others pick up the slack, get focused and start contributing your fair share.

See Also: Why it Sucks Working for a Jerk

If you’re an office jerk, your coworkers might do everything possible to avoid this. They may exclude you or conveniently forget to extend invitations to lunch or other social gatherings. But if you take steps to improve your image, they’ll notice your efforts and start to include you again. You might not be able to change your image and regain their trust overnight, but it’ll happen.

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What do you think is the most annoying characteristic of an office jerk? Let us know in the comments section below.