Women and Business: Influencing the Executive “Troublemaker” at Work – Part II

by Karen Keller, Ph.D.

Troublemakers at the executive level are the most difficult to deal with – because they have power. Nothing worse than a jerk with authority. They don’t respond to the disapproving look or your hints of objection. Most are poor communicators and lack effective leadership skills. No, they believe they are beyond correction or reprimand.

Research shows that the higher up the corporate ladder you look, the more troublemakers you find. Why? Because when people are in power positions, they tend to attend to satisfying their own needs and could care less about the needs and reactions of others. Some even take credit for the work of their subordinates without conscious or remorse. They act as if they are above the rules. Similar to Meryl Streep’s tyrannical character in the “The Devil Wears Prada.”

To give you a clear picture of the executive troublemaker, here are a few descriptors:

  • Using verbal and nonverbal threats and intimidations
  • Making status-related jabs to humiliate
  • Publicly shaming people
  • Interrupting
  • Being two-faced
  • Throwing dirty looks
  • Using sarcasm and jokes to land insults
Dealing With the “Work Jerk” Executive


There isn’t any good reason you should tolerate the troublemaker or simply known as the “work jerk.” The “work jerk” is usually content being where they are, so hoping they will move on to another company is living in la-la-land.

You need to take action, gradually but decisively. But how, when the troublemaker is an executive with the company yielding power that you don’t have? Even worse, what if the “work jerk” is your boss?

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Monitor the issue. Keep good notes on what is happening, the time wasted, who else is affected, opportunities missed, etc. When the time is right, you will be glad to have pieces of information that are quantifiable.
  2. Be prepared for conflict. The best way to deal with a troublemaker is to be proactive. Anticipate ahead of time how you will handle this person’s behavior. Being prepared prevents you from acting from your gut, which may get you into trouble.
  3. Stay focused on YOUR work. Don’t go looking for ways to get in the troublemaker’s path. But if you do cross paths, again, be prepared. Troublemakers usually thrive on tension and negativity. So be positive in your interactions. Continually focus on what is right and going well.
  4. Engage a third party. Try the HR department or another relevant executive or manager … someone whom you can trust and will be helpful and somewhat understanding of the situation.
  5. Move on. If the troublemaker’s behavior is out of hand and it’s obvious to you that the company refuses to deal with him or her (the owner’s son or daughter), then start looking elsewhere. Give no one the power to determine if you will have a good or bad day at work. We spend too much time in the workplace for it to be a cause of unnecessary stress.

Returning like for like is only a poor reflection on you. Continue your excellent work and feeling confident because this will counteract the any feelings of insecurity caused by the troublemaker. Act with honesty and fairness. The better you feel about yourself, the better prepared you are for confrontation if that time comes.

[Editor’s Note: One way to handle a "work jerk" is to use the art of influence. Using influence and persuasion skills gives YOU power over most every person, circumstance, or outcome that comes your way. Learn how to release your inner force! Click here for more information!]

[This is only one of the many powerful articles in this week's Influence It! Real Power for Women free ezine. To enjoy the full issue, jam packed with insightful information on strategies to enhance your personal and professional life to achieve ultimate success, you must be a subscriber. Sign up for your own free subscription NOW by clicking here!]

Related Posts:

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: