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VOL. 45 | NO. 48 | Friday, November 26, 2021

Learning to deal with difficult people at work

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The seating chart for the next team-building went up last week, and your jaw’s already clenched.

You can’t believe you’re supposed to sit next to that guy, on the office whiner’s team, with the woman who babbles nonstop. The office gossip will be a teammate, too, and you can’t decide if you should call in dead, look for a new job or listen to “Wait, I’m Working with Who?!?” by Peter Economy. (Hint: take the latter).

When you were first hired, the boss said the office was “like family,” but no, you’ve never seen jerks like this at any family reunion you can remember. Look, you love this job, so how do you keep it and your sanity when you’re with your jerky co-workers 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year?

The first – and perhaps most important – thing to know is that working with a jerk can take a toll on you, both physically and mentally. It can affect your performance at work and your professional reputation, both now and in the future.

If it’s your boss who’s “toxic,” well, the issue is raised to a whole new level. Then again, consider this: Economy offers several check-in questionnaires to see where you are on the spectrum. Everyone is a little bit of a jerk, he says, and you may be a part of the problem.

“Wait, I’m Working with Who?!? The Essential Guide to Dealing with Difficult Coworkers, Annoying Managers, and other Toxic Personalities”

By Peter Economy

c.2021, Brilliance Audio

$25.99

5 CDs totaling 5 hours, 22 minutes

Still, he says there are 16 types of jerks you may encounter at work, and while each one must be dealt with specifically, there are steps to take to survive working with one (or more!) of them.

First, Economy says, take a big breath and step back. Give yourself some room to think. Don’t be caught up in “their game.” In fact, know when to ask for help from management.

Be prepared to neutralize conflict, but try to find at least some positives in the negative, then learn from the negativity so you can adjust your own behavior toward others. And finally, really: Monitor what you do. Don’t lose your temper and become the office jerk yourself.

That guy in the next cubicle? Grrrrrrrrrr, go to the restroom and count to 10. Come back to your desk and look for “Wait, I’m Working with Who?!?”

And then practice patience. Because, as an audiobook, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

Author Peter Economy is thorough in this book, and he helpfully includes every shred of info you could possibly need in order to work with people you don’t get along with. Step-by-step, you’ll learn how to survive without seeming like a grump or a snitch, and you might even gain some respect. You’ll definitely feel better about the situation.

The thing is that Economy walks methodically through 16 difficult personalities and their traits, and every word of the book is in the audiobook. Every word, and skipping ahead won’t be easy. So think before choosing audiobook over paper but either way, “Wait, I’m Working with Who?!?” is maybe something you shouldn’t wait on at all.

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of business books are read in more than 260 publications in the U.S. and Canada.

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