There is probably someone, maybe several people, who drive you absolutely bonkers at work. Gossips, liars, know-it-alls. Every office has them.
So how do you deal with the worst of the worst at work? Marc Hershon, co-author of "I Hate People," spoke to Carol Costello on CNN’s “American Morning” Friday.
Carol Costello: We were intrigued by your title, "I Hate People." Why did you title it this way?
Marc Hershon: Well, for me, it's become a bit of a personal mantra. I've heard a lot of people mutter it under their breath professionally, in retail and business. It's not really the people we hate so much as it is their behavior. But there's something sort of viscerally satisfying to be able to say, “I hate people” when they drive you crazy.
Costello: Instead of trying to be nice all the time about your feelings towards these awful people at work, it's sometimes best just to say, “I hate them and I have to deal with the hatred in a constructive way to make myself...go forward at work."
Hershon: Absolutely. The book is how to sort of diffuse the situations that occur with people based on their behavior. The types that we have in the office like the "switchblade" I heard you talking about.
Costello: Let's go down the list because we have them all… You can't mess up our graphics. See I'm being honest with you…
Hershon: And I don't hate you as a result. It works out great.
Costello: Fantastic. What is a “stop sign” sort of personality?
Hershon: A “stop sign” is the classic devil's advocate. The person that says "No, we can't do this. The company has never done this, you can't do this, your project won’t work, we don't have the resources."
Costello: So everything new you want to do this person tries to stop you. How do you combat this?
Hershon: Well, there’s different ways to handle it. One thing, don't invite them into any meetings early on in the process. Stop signs are actually necessary further on when, you know, it really comes to saying how can we get this project finished? But early on when the thinking has to stay very creative, you don't want these “stop signs” around to stop you from doing what you need to do.
Costello: So the best way to deal with a “stop sign” is ask them what their solution is. And force them to come up with a solution and you can slip in your own idea.
Hershon: That's a great way to do it. Absolutely. And often times it'll help them be more creative if they're invited into the process a little bit more.
Costello: Let's move on to the “smiley face.” I know so many of these kinds of people.
Hershon: They're always smiling, always. And it's great to smile. But when they smile all the time, you're pretty sure they're covering something up. Often times it's bad news or something they know they don't want you to know.
Costello: So they've heard from the boss's secretary that you're going to be fired. Yet they come up and smile at you. Do you just ignore those people?
Hershon: No, it's not good to ignore them. Because if you turn your back on them they can turn into some of the other types. The best way to deal with them is to find out why they're smiling. "What are you always so happy about?"
Costello: The next type is the “sheeple.”
Hershon: Now the “sheeple” probably represents 80% to 90% of the corporate workforce. They're sort of like herd animals, they keep moving in one direction until something moves them the other way. They only perform assigned work tasks and love meetings. Because when a “sheeple” is in a meeting they feel like they're actually doing something. If they can herd from meeting to meeting to meeting, their day is complete and they feel like they put in a full day.
Costello: Well some people are forced to be a “sheeple.” So how do you get yourself out of the mix without making the boss mad that you’re not attending his meeting?
Hershon: Well, one thing is to put the boss's feet to the fire and say, “I've got this project you wanted me to do, but this is the n'th meeting I’ve had today, which would you prefer me do? Go to the meeting or finish the project?” And when the boss is the one to make the decisions, all of a sudden you'll find yourself with a lot more time to finish those projects.
Costello: I want to get to the "switchblade" because everybody's known somebody like this. And this is the person that stabs you in the back and smiles to your face. How do you deal with them? How do you prevent that from happening?
Hershon: Well, the other thing they like to do is take credit for your ideas. Whenever interacting with a "switchblade," it's great to keep a record of it. Make sure you copy other people on the project and e-mails. Have someone else in the meeting with a "switchblade." So if they do try to pull something like that you can say, “Hold on a second, I've got some backup here” and bring in your associate who can back your play.