Jerks - and How Not To Be (with) One

Updated on October 11, 2016
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Abigail is loved by dogs, cats and children. She writes about topics that can help people become better, greater, happier individuals

Snap Out Of It!

In my days, I’ve encountered many selfish, passive-aggressive, I-Own-The-World ego maniacs. They’ve been my friends, my boyfriends, my colleagues, and at one point in my life, I was the jerk!

When I finally snapped out of it, I realized I’m far better being nice, polite and well-adjusted. Being a jerk takes much more energy than what meets the eye. Yes, you get to say stuff without thinking much about them and you get to fire up your frustrations on everybody else, but is it worth it? Since I wasn’t raised a selfish egotist, being a jerk really didn’t agree with me. I was constantly at odds with someone, other jerks kept provoking me, and by the time I realized what I was doing, I was surrounded by these types of people. People who didn’t know much about decency, ethics and normal human interaction. Here’s the list of risky jerk behaviors I noticed, when I finally woke up to smell the roses, but got ripped by their thorns instead:

Jerks Are All About “The Me”!

You got a headache? They had a worst one last week. You got a promotion? That’s nothing! Wait until you hear about their achievements. You have a dream? You fool, you don’t know how to dream! You will never be acknowledged by these types of people because their ego doesn’t let anyone else stand out.

I found a jerk antidote when I couldn’t find a way to express myself around them. You see, they think they’re the best, so all you have to do is talk about their failures. Call bulls**t when you see it. It’s a jerk move, I admit, but sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. That’s the only way to get them do an ego check and realize they are not so great. In my experience, once their ego is at stake, they tend to slow it down and become a little softer and more bearable.

Being nice also works. But you can’t be falsely nice, because they can sense their own medicine a mile away. Be genuinely nice. Talk about stuff that matters to the world, not just to you as an individual. That way, they can’t jump on the train of thought because the ego doesn’t care about anything pass the nose.

Attitude Over Substance

I had this manager a few years back, a real piece of work. He seemed confident and knowledgeable, a typical CEO kind of guy. Always well groomed, walked tall and proud, seemed to be able to carry great workloads. After some time, I noticed he actually uses the employees to gather thoughts and ideas, and repeats them to his supervisors. He even used the same words, word by word, even the jokes.

It would’ve been crappy of me to call bulls**t and I would’ve been fired most probably. So I had an idea to call bulls**t, without actually calling it. So, whenever I had a question, I didn’t consult any coworker, I went straight to him. I always waited until he’s surrounded by some of my other coworkers, so they can see and hear his incompetence. Sometimes, he would use his managerial advantages to make us brainstorm ideas for him, other times he would just pull me aside to hush me down. We all started doing that, so he transferred to another department a few months later.

This is when I learned that nice people sometimes felt they had to pretend to be mean and awful. - Matthew Quick, The Good Luck of Right Now
This is when I learned that nice people sometimes felt they had to pretend to be mean and awful. - Matthew Quick, The Good Luck of Right Now

Jerks Are Just Mean

I was mean to my manager, I admit. The difference between me and a jerk, is that a jerk is mean without any plausible justification. When a jerk discovers the power meanness has over most people, they use it as a go-to weapon in their interactions. They don’t necessarily need to be mean to you, but they like to show off their mean spirit just to keep you in the sucker category. When you see how mean someone is, you may want to scoop over to their side, because otherwise you can easily become their prey.

In my hometown, most people are mean-spirited. We are in a third world country, where you don’t get enough chances and opportunities, so when someone finds a way out, we tend to hate them for making it out of the hellhole. I still talk to some of these people, but when they start hating on someone who doesn’t really deserves it, I change the subject right there and then. I change it even as they speak, to make it clear that I don’t want to gossip about someone who has nothing to do with my life.

We've spent so much time judging what other people created that we've created very, very little of our own. - Chuck Palahniuk, Choke
We've spent so much time judging what other people created that we've created very, very little of our own. - Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

They Are Pushy and Judgmental

My cousin always nagged me: when are you getting married? You are becoming an old maid. What are you waiting for? You are not getting any younger, aren’t you a little old to have kids? So, I said to him once: I’m barren. Not my proudest moment, I’ll say, but at least it stopped him from nagging me with the same questions every time. I like to believe he finally realized how powerful words can be, and how deeply they can sting someone.

Jerks live to judge and intrude into people’s lives. Most of them are too lazy to do something meaningful and worthy of respect, so they succumb to gaslighting. Nothing anyone does is good enough. Nothing anyone achieved is worthy of their respect. They always find a way to undermine your motivation and goals. I decided to get rid of these types of jerks because nothing good ever came out of our relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against a good-natured criticism, remarks that make you grow and wake up, and comments that help you build something more. But when a remark is blurted out just so the person can gain popularity, make themselves seem smart or knowledgeable, then it’s time to pull the plug and get rid of the person.

You are a manipulator. I like to think of myself more as an outcome engineer. - J.R. Ward, Lover Eternal
You are a manipulator. I like to think of myself more as an outcome engineer. - J.R. Ward, Lover Eternal

Jerks Are Weak Debaters

Jerks have a point of view that is so tangled and clogged, that doesn’t allow them to have a civil debate. My ex used to make me nuts when we had to clear something up. He was incapable of conversing like an adult, and had the habit of complicating things until I forget where I was headed.

Almost all jerks are like that. Their point of view is only reasonable to them. They have built a fake perception of themselves and the world around them, so when facing real facts and questions they have no other option but to complicate things until you let things go. They also stall, offend and blame as part of their manipulative debating tactics. They rarely answer a question right away, and they would rather remind you of your mistakes and shortcomings.

Answering with a question is another method they gladly use, so they can stall their answer and gain some time to calculate the next manipulative step. You will never be in the clear with these people, as they are incapable of taking responsibility for their own behavior and actions.

Just Get Rid of Them!

That’s my own perspective, since I ended up paying the cost for their ways. Of course, sometimes these people can be the people you are obligated to be close to, like parents, partners and bosses. I always channel my nicest self when I’m around them. They are repulsed by goodness and feel the need to distance themselves from good people, because it reminds them of all the things they are not.

Have you encountered a jerk lately?

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© 2016 abigail winters


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