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How to survive working with a jerk

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Have you stepped on other people or rudely ignored those who can't help you advance? If you said yes, you probably aren't the biggest jerk around.

Quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Gloria Elliot is a consultant who helps companies deal with obnoxious employees through her "Jerk Training" seminars. She says jerks don't admit their actions and are devious or conniving. They plow through the workplace, focusing only on their own careers.

Jerks tend to be narcissistic, manipulative, and goal-oriented. They trust no one and lack empathy, but they are skilled at politics. They disregard how they treat others, but are very good at sweet talking the boss. Elliot estimates that 10 percent of people in the work force are full-time jerks.

When you decide that someone is a remorseless jerk, back off. Normal things such as trying to talk things out or asking him to reconsider rarely work. Never smile at a jerk Elliot recommends.

If you decide to confront him, you need co-workers to back you up. Even then, don't count on a big change. Outline the work-related behavior that you and your colleagues want changed.

John Hoover, author of How to Work for an Idiot (Career Press), says it's best to admit that you are "powerless" over the jerks in your life. Pledge that you won't let them rattle you.

One seminar attendee admitted he could only be nice until 9:15 a.m. After that, it was "every man for himself."

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