Don’t let annoying people get you down: Learn about the 4 types of jerks, and 3 tactics to avoid them
11/28/2017 // Janine Acero // Views

At some point in our professional careers we get so frustrated that we lash out and treat others harshly. We're all jerks once in a while. And then there are those who are simply a**holes down to their core. The ones who treat everyone like their personal doormat, stomping and brushing the dirt off their shoes on others at every possible moment.

Robert Sutton, a professor of organizational behavior and engineering in Stanford University in California, authored the book “The A**hole Survival Guide: How to Deal with People Who Treat You Like Dirt,” in which he cites the four types of jerks, and a three-step tactic to avoid them.

Some jerks will belittle you for no reason, despite your best efforts to steer clear from their path, or your attempts at understanding their frame of mind. After his bestseller “The No A**hole Rule” back in 2007, Sutton received a deluge of personal stories from people seeking advice on how to get rid of the jerks in their life. This inspired Sutton to write his follow-up book and give a general view on how to deal with such people.

The four types of jerks in this world

  1. The Machiavellian - If you look under the definition of "crab mentality," you'll find a picture of this particular type of jerk. A Machiavellian is someone who is interested in getting ahead -- no matter how many toes are stepped on along the way. Sutton described this person as someone who is openly nasty to others, and is proud of it. These types of jerks believe that their less-than-great behavior is directly helping them get what they want.
  2. Brighteon.TV

  3. The backstabber - The backstabber is more strategic in showing their snide behavior because they don't want to be thought of as a jerk. These are your goodie-two-shoes-but-really-devil-in-disguise people. They pretend to be on your side for as long they need you, which makes them the most dangerous type of a**hole, according to Sutton.
  4. The purposefully oblivious - Conceivably one the more irritating type of jerk, these people pretend they have no idea who a person is (or the dirty details about them), when, in fact, they actually do. This type of jerk might think they can get away with not saying anything, but their lack of acknowledgment is a key factor in their behavior. The purposefully oblivious operate on pride: They believe that most people are "beneath" them and therefore not worthy of the attention. This "justifies" the a**hole behavior.
  5. The clueless - This person is ignorant of their own horrible actions toward someone until their a**hole behavior is pointed out to them.

"Do a**holes get ahead? The answer is yes," Sutton said.

But it is not without consequences as one makes their way up the workplace ladder. Once at the top, these kinds of people end up surrounded by disgruntled colleagues and barely get any job done.

Steps to avoid and rid your life of jerks

How does one survive being surrounded by a**holes, particularly in the workplace? In this book, Sutton lists some steps that may help people diffuse the situation:

  1. Create physical distance - Sutton believes that being around jerks is the most reliable way to become one yourself. He recommends keeping your distance from people with toxic behavior.
  2. Change your perspective - Sutton recommends re-framing your mental thoughts like finding something funny about the situation or feeling sorry for the person trying to ruin your day. Changing your perception can help you cope with the situation and protect you from being hurt by the behavior.
  3. Kill them with kindness - Sutton suggests that turning your hater into your friend by flattery or being purposefully nice can make it harder for them to be rude toward you. “It's really hard to hate somebody when you're doing something nice for them,” Sutton said. He also found reasons for why decent people turn into jerks themselves.

As we progress through our respective careers, we may encounter more complex kinds of people. Standing your ground with grace and humility is one of the best ways to deal with the oppressive ones.

You can read similar stories to this one at

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