Avoidance and defence against the “a-holes”

I have already written about how to notice, when you are about to enter a dangerous situation, and when you are in one. Now let’s see what you can do when you realised that the situation is bad, let’s see how you can handle your dear a-hole.

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Avoiding techniques:

  1. Physical distancing – sit farther away from them, as far as you can. If you are physically farther away from them, they might find you with their stupidity less often.
  2. Slow down the rhythm – they want you to jump when they say? Don’t do it. Answer their e-mail a bit later as you would do anyways, let them know you have something very urgent to do before you appear in their office/by their desk.
  3. Be invisible – if they don’t see you, they might forget about you.
  4. Human shield – do you have a leader whom you can involve between you and the a-hole? Do it! Ask for help!
  5. Safety zone – it is like the backstage for the actors, where they can retreat and no one disturbs them. Find your own zone, where you can “hide” in case of need. Maybe it is an office kitchen, the smoking area or a meeting room.
  6. Forecast – if there are more victims of the a-hole, agree on a watching system, so that one person can alert the others if the person is approaching. This way you have the chance to duck.

How to protect yourself?

  • You are not alone! – gather around yourself the other victims, as you can win together.
  • It is not your fault! – let go of blaming yourself.
  • Concentrate on the good side of the thing! – if there is any, of course.
  • Rise above the thing! – do not take over their style, do not react on their bad approach. Stay calm and yourself.
  • Look at them as a psychologist look at their clients, with empathy – poor man/woman must have a lot of childhood injuries, which causes him/her to behave that way…
  • Emotional detachment – say whatever you want, I will detach myself from it/you.

I would definitely want to emphasize, that the above techniques are only for trying to put out the fire. If the situation is already unbearable and has a negative effect on both your work and private life, you need to think about leaving this team/boss/colleague/workplace. Evaluate for yourself for how long it is worth staying in a situation like this!

Source: Robert I. Sutton – The Asshole Survival Guide

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