Normally Ogburn handles giving advice to those who have sunk so far into despair that they seek advice from the husband and wife team of Washingtonian‘s Harry Jaffe and his wife, Louise. This week, thanks to logistical issues, it falls to me. Here’s the question from Almost Out of Patience:
Dear Harry and Louise:
I work with a jerk. Every day at the office, he makes snide remarks and undermines me and my colleagues. He works on projects with someone and then publicly complains to others about his partner. He is quick to criticize anyone else’s ideas. He considers himself the expert on everything. He praises himself and even sends e-mails about his latest accomplishments to all of us. I’ve just been assigned to work on a project with him. There is no point in trying to go over his head, because the boss will do nothing. To the outside, he is viewed as a success and an important part of the office.
How do I face him each day without decking him?
Almost Out of Patience
Dear “Almost,” while Harry and Louise gave you sound advice on how to be the perfect doormat for this jackass, and were horrified at the prospect of decking him, I won’t be so PC. No, you shouldn’t hit the dude, but you also shouldn’t lay down and take it. Prostitutes “take it,” you need to be the john here.
Get together with the other Jell-O backs in the office and see if you can’t all get together and form one spine. When this jackass starts patting himself on the back about his work to everyone in the office, call him out on it. Have your co-workers chime in with some laughs when he announces something publicly, or some creative “reply all” emails when he’s tooting his own horn.
When not bursting his bubble, have everyone ignore him. And I’m not talking about some half-assed not inviting him to lunch stuff, I mean like he constantly smells like a fart. Avoid him, ignore him, he doesn’t exist. When people are forced to talk to him, don’t make any eye contact at all. NONE. After a week of no one looking him in the eye he won’t be able to stand it.
This dude craves attention…
denying him of it completely will drive him to act out even more. If you can hold strong, he’ll either freak out and expose himself to the boss by complaining (or maybe exposing himself literally, who knows?), or quit. Hopefully he quits because he sounds like too many people in Washington who want credit like they cured cancer when all they did was finally pick up their piece of a check for once.
If that doesn’t work, there’s always the option of decking him.
However, if you’re a masochist and secretly dig being treated like crap by people, you should keep writing Harry and Louise for advice on how to best get all the mud off someone’s shoes as they wipe their feet on you as they keep cashing the checks. Lot of that in Washington, too.