**All References here-in regarding “co-workers” refer to my previous jobs, which I no longer work at, so don’t be upset if I work with you now! I like my coworkers now!**
I recently finished reading the Book “You Can Be Happy No Matter What”, (and reviewed it here)! I read this book not because I was sad, or depressed, but because at certain times, in certain situations I felt blah. Reading this book definitely helped clear up why I would feel the way I would, and definitely helped me deal with it. I quickly realized A LOT of my anguish was caused by the people I worked with (used to work with, thank god I don’t anymore!) I started to think, “so what if I’m happy if the Jerks at Work are just going to rain on my parade all the time”
That’s where this book comes in. My sister bought it for me after my incessant complaining about my co-workers. It wasn’t that they had annoying habits, it wasn’t that they were geeks or dorks, it was that these certain people were just plain Jerks! I needed to know how to deal with them so that my day would go so much better.
“This book answers real questions, from real people, in real jobs, who work with real jerks.”
The book is layed out in Chapters divided by Main Categories of problems you might have. The categories make it easy for you to go right to the problem you have. Chapters include:
-Managers who Just Don’t Get it
-Subordinates who Just Don’t Get it,
-Etc Etc. There are 19 chapters (250 pages) and there is probably at least 1 chapter that will help you.
Inside each chapter is a slew of questions and answers. Basically the entire format of the book is a question asked by someone describing a work situation, and the author answers with ways to deal with this problem. The author used to write an advice column in the Los Angeles Daily News (he might still write it, but I don’t live in LA, regardless, he did at one time). Upon reading, you’ll probably find MANY situations that apply to you.
A *little* problem I had with the layout is that you kind of have to read every question in order to find the questions that applied to you. However, this turned out to be interesting, and gave me some things to keep in mind to apply to my situation. What this means is that even if the question doesn’t sound like your situation AT ALL, the solution may be something you can translate into your own working life. If you really have a situation you want to know the solution to NOW, there is a small index in the back that lists problems like “car pool”, “vacations” “complainers”, etc so you can try to jump right to your question of choice.
To demonstrate how this book helped me, here are a few (summarized) questions and answers that applied to me, and may apply to you as well. Of course you’ll have to buy the book to see the full question and the extended analysis, these are just some snippets.
Chapter: Managers Who Just Don’t Get It
Q: Our manager changes her mood countless times during the day, and we never know if she is going to be friendly or nasty.
My Situation: My managers mood was directly dependent on how much money came in each day, because it greatly affected his own paycheck.
A: “The only change that can occur in this situation will have to come from you. You need to pay less attention to her mood swings, put them in proper perspective, and focus more on the aspects of your job that are sources of satisfaction rather than dissatisfaction”
This answer totally worked for me! but not my co-workers. When one of my bosses was getting edgy, and yelling, and antsy, I just kind of laughed to myself and thought “glad I don’t own this place”. However my co-workers continued to take it personally, even after I told them to let it go. The lesson here is that if you are willing to read this book, you have to be willing to actually TRY the techniques.
Chapter: Fellow Employees Who Just Don’t Get It
Q: What do you do about a co-worker who is constantly reporting to the boss about the poor performance or behavior of the other employees?
My Situation: An employee who, rather than discuss problems with us, would run off to the manager. Same employee would buy Avon from one co-worker but then cry ‘solicitation’ when co0worker wanted to sell us some baked goods just because he was feeling left-out and wasn’t the first to hear about it.
A: “The first step is for you and your associates to meet with this co-worker…” “The next step is for you and your group to meet with this boss.” Let them both know that “…if there are negative claims voiced about you or your associates in the future, you would like to discuss the matter.”
This would be an instance (as I further explain below) that would be hard to do what the book says. Talking to the co-worker, who everyone is mad at, is not an easy task. Talking to the boss was easy however, and the rest of the solution worked great.
Chapter: Who’s in Charge?
Q: One of the people I work with is constantly telling me what to do.
My Situation: Someone who was promoted AFTER me, was acting as if he’s in charge of me when he didn’t even know what my job responsibilities were?? What??
A: “The next time she sends an order, use a businesslike tone and immediately tell her how you feel. Then issue a directive of your own–her orders must cease and desist…. If your co-worker senses the slightest possibility that you are going to follow her orders, she will keep issuing them.”
Worked well! I didn’t directly say ‘cease and desist’ but instead would say “If the boss wants me to do that, he’ll tell me to do that”. This eventually resulted in no more orders, as well as no unnecessary communication at all with this co-worker. Fine by me!
So those are just some small examples to see how these question/answer issues can directly apply to each and every person who has a job. if you work with people, you probably work with a jerk somewhere, somehow.
Is it Realistic?
Can you really apply these techniques and solutions to your life?? You definitely can! You may not want to go all the way to confronting you co-worker, but even if you just do a small part of the solution, your work situation should improve at least a little! The number one way to get help is to Help Yourself!
I never did the real intense “confront your boss” or “confront your co-worker to discuss”. That was only because in my situation I felt the co-worker or boss involved was too narrow-minded to waste my time dealing with. HOWEVER, I did many of the other techniques in the book and my day to day life was improved greatly. You may have a more approachable boss or co-worker, in which case, try the confront techniques!
Can you help Others?
My problem soon came down to OTHER people complaining. I had dealt with my problems, and felt better about things. But now I heard my work-friends complaining about the same things that used to bother me. What to do? I tried to explain to them the philosophies in the book. This worked, sometimes, and sometimes it doesn’t. Some people just like to complain. Which leads to my next point…
In order to get anything out of this book, you have to be willing to change your opinion. You cannot read the suggestions and say “that would NEVER work” or “that seems like too much trouble on my part” or “My job just sucks and will never get better”. If you come at this book with a negative attitude, it won’t help you at all. You’ll probably just shoot down the suggestions, and continue to have a horrible time from 9-5 everyday.
If you really want to benefit you HAVE to try and LET GO! Realize that YOU are the one making this problem bother you. The person who caused the problem doesn’t even know it while YOU are letting it eat at you and stress you and tire you out! I didn’t get that from the book, I got it from my own experience. Consider this, if you read this whole book, and every idea seems stupid to you and you are still convinced that the problem will never go away… maybe the problem is with you!
So it’s for lowly workers only right?
Nope! If you are a manager, there are lots of questions that address how to deal with the jerks that work beneath you. If you have someone constantly undermining your orders, and treating you like you are not in charge, this book has loads of tips on how to deal. I have never been a manager, but I’ve used techniques listed under those ‘manager’ questions because they really do help when dealing with someone who you are supposed to be teaching or giving orders to.
Grab this book, take mental notes of your work situation, and read on! Bring it to work during your lunch breaks! Set it on your desk next to your jerky co-worker! That would be funny. Even if you don’t work with Jerks, you may learn some things that other people find annoying and you can make sure YOU are not the Jerk at Work. Anyway, I think I gave enough reason to buy this book, so that’s it, go buy it!
**Note: Book covers may vary. Mine looks like the picture but I’ve seen the same book sold with a different