When economist John Maynard Keynes wrote, “the difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones,” he was referring to ideas, but the same applies to people: leaving certain people is the hardest part.
But leave we must. When we want our life to be better, one of the first steps is to get rid of the jerks.
Jerks are those people who regularly waste your time, the ones who don’t value you, the ones who may abuse you, and the ones you want to avoid. They hold you back. Your body gets tense when you see them. They are the ones who always keep you waiting. They are the ones who drain your energy.
When you see them, you may have to take a deep breath just to have the strength to deal with them.
I have had them in my life. Too many of them. Consulting clients that always pushed for a price cut and were never satisfied with the work I had done for them. Faculty colleagues who spent more time spreading rumors than doing their job. Gossipers that would suck me in to conversations berating others. I often didn’t know they were jerks because it was so comfortable being with them. I just figured everyone was like that. It took me a while to learn otherwise.
Do you know who the jerks are in your life?
Once you know who the jerks are, it’s time for working with the no jerks rule. No Jerks. Ever. You don’t need them.
Getting rid of the jerks sounds like a great idea, but maybe you’re wondering how to do it, especially if you are not the boss or if you are working in a large company.
My answer is that no matter where you work you can get rid of most jerks and can start by spending a lot less time with them. If there are some people you consider jerks in your department or organization, do what you can to minimize the amount of time you spend with them, or get “rid of them.” You may not have the power to get them out of your organization, but you can make some moves so you don’t have to work with them. Say no to certain projects and make it your policy to work with people you want to work with.
Some efforts at getting rid of the jerks will be easy.
For example, if there’s a jerk every time you go to the human resources office in your organization, talk to someone else who can understand your requests immediately and will process it. Seek out the competent people in every department who are easier to work with. You can bypass or “get rid of ” the person who is a hassle to deal with. If your in-house support services are a pain in the butt to deal with, use outside services when you can. They might even be cheaper, and you will find the ones that are happy to have your business.
When some of the jerks ask you to go out for lunch or a drink after work, just politely say no and eat at your desk or go out with some other people. You might eat alone for a while, but it will beat going out to lunch or spending time with people you don’t want to be with.
These kinds of changes are not always easy, especially In Japan where harmony and relationships are so important. In Japan, people worry that making a change will ruin the relationship or be a hassle for others in accounting, the tech department, or the delivery service. But if you can change, the sooner the better. In Japan, people say, one bad mikan (a type of tangerine) can ruin the entire box.
Ask yourself, “Why do I tolerate this behavior from this person or “Why am I spending time with this person?” . “ Too often, you might stick with certain just because you’re used to each other. It’s when you make a change that you realize how much better your life is after the change.
When my friend Noriko changed jobs, she got a whole new group of friends. In her old job, she used to complain with her colleagues about how boring the work was and how hard it was to find someone to date. But in her new job, most of the other people in the office were married, and they liked the work they did. Within a year, Noriko got married, and almost completely drifted away from her friends at her old job.
You don’t always have to confront the jerks at work once you are ready to let them go. Just let them gently slide away and out of your life. You will likely have a transition period where you will be alone, by yourself.
Have confidence that there are new people out there for you.
The best time to get rid of the jerks? Now.