Do you suffer from jerks at work?

4 Feb

Whether you routinely work from home, or always in a public workspace, or are looking at taking advantage of new “hybrid” models on offer; how you are treated, respected and are able to “get on” depends on how you are spoken to, looked at, and how you communicate with others.

Big time.

You may have suffered, as I have, through working either as an employee, manager, or freelancer for organisations who allow and sometimes even promote a toxic way of dealing with each other. There is the phenomenon  of “jerk colleagues” who can side-line, bully, micromanage, and steal your thunder.

It was one of the drivers for me to start up my own business.

In her book: ‘Jerks at work’, Tessa West, New York Professor of Psychology describes this phenomenon and suggests how to deal with it.

Also, talking more generally about the importance of good communication at work in an interview in  The Observer, what Professor West says is music to my ears: “we undervalue how much communication affects the workplace and (she) is riled by the fact that this learnable skill is never taught.”

It is absolutely key; both for business success and good staff morale and mental health. The two feed each other.

I have worked to set up new teams within an organisation in the past, and the act of doing some training around behavioural and communication styles meant that unnecessary conflict was avoided and the task force set up coherently. No one felt side-lined. In my case, I used DiSC by Wiley as a coaching model, which the team in question found extremely helpful in enabling them to understand their own preferred mode of communication, behaviour and style and appreciate and better understand others’.

To get your strategy and message right, you need everyone to be able to be “singing and performing together off the same play list”, and in harmony whatever instruments they are playing or pitch of voice they have.

As a team, how you work together and speak to each other behind the scenes will always be mirrored in what you can deliver to the outside world and your clients. It directly impacts on success; disharmony in working relationships stunts growth.

Forbes magazine is a proponent of prioritising communication skills in business as well:

“Hiring managers and executives consistently rank good communication as one of the most important skills for an employee to have. This is because communication is at the core of every business… Being able to get information across clearly makes work more efficient, understandable, less frustrating. As part of the regular suite of training every employee at your company should also receive Communications training. It is a vital part of keeping and organization running smoothly and cohesively”.

When I am working with mid-late teenagers, who are just about to embark onto the wider world, I will always emphasize that having great communication skills is one of the most important life skills.  It is what employers say they are looking for. How important then, that employers themselves prioritise this for all workers, from top to bottom in the actual workspace.

To feel that you have no voice in your workspace is a terrible thing, and for any business having a toxic co-worker culture is a wasteful thing, holding up progress.

If you are either someone who wants to be heard where you feel you aren’t at the moment, or a business who would like to cut toxic “co-worker-y”, I would be delighted to help.

To find out more about Fiona’s training workshops or coaching, and how it can improve and enhance yours or your team’s communication skills, do contact her on and ask for details.

Fiona Whytehead
By Fiona Whytehead

Founder and Director, Locus Coaching

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Fiona Whytehead
By Fiona Whytehead

Founder and Director, Locus Coaching

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If you want to liberate and enjoy your voice, be in control when speaking, and make successful connections…

Get in touch with me, Fiona Whytehead for details about what Locus Coaching can do for you