How to Deal with a Jerk Boss


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“The Jerk Store called, and they’re running out of you.” – George Costanza (1997)

Seinfeld fans will recall George’s ill-fated attempt to deliver the perfect comeback to a smart-ass coworker. Rather than trying to outdo them, the key to dealing with jerks, or any other kind of difficult manager, is to understand them.

“Bosses are just like any other human: unique but predictable,” said Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, vice president of Research and Innovation at Hogan. “The best way to manage your manager is to figure out who they are, what they want, and why they do what they do. Then, adjust your behavior to fit their personality.” For example,

  • Is your boss impulsive? Impulsive bosses are driven by feeling rather than reason, so tune into their moods. Share your ideas when they are already feeling excited.
  • Is your boss creative? Creative bosses jump from one idea to the next, so avoid any discussion of admin details, bureaucratic processes, and rules. Admire their ideas and show interest in their eccentric suggestions.

Check out more personality types and what you can do to counteract the jerk in your boss in our new eBook So, Your Boss is a Jerk.