American Morning

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June 19th, 2009
10:13 AM ET

Author says, "I hate people"

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.

Filed under: Entertainment
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. nancy

    I am my own BEST company. I would make a very successful "hermit". I can do without people. 🙂

    June 22, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  2. LIsaL -Canada

    The author seems to be describing the general population. In most people's world's, there are a mix of these types of people we deal with, be it at work (white OR blue collar) or in other areas of our lives. And any one of us could fall into one of these categories in the eyes of other people.

    Speaking of mantras, I used to grit my teeth and mutter under my breath (trying to be self-convincing) "I love my job... I love my job... " It worked – some of the time. Psychologically, it is easier to deal with other people's [perceived] behaviors towards us if we can attribute the behavior to their personality type, rather than ours. Sometimes it is valid, sometimes it is not. [And, as some other comments pointed out, there still really are some genuinely nice people out there.]

    As far as the switchblade types ... we all know at least one ... personally I'd rather they smile and stab me in the gut, rather than in the back, so I can see their face while they are doing it. Yeah, I hate people too, but only some of them.

    June 21, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  3. Bill

    I hate all of you.

    June 21, 2009 at 7:18 am |

    New employers not tactics (for clarification)

    June 20, 2009 at 10:44 pm |

    Greg is obviously one of those employees who always gets looked over for a raise, is the first to get a pink slip, and always wonders why him. I'm sorry Greg, I am not trying to be mean. Please take that as constructive criticism. This article definitely isn't a cure all, but it gives some pointers to the younger workers. Being the "Yes Man" is not always a good...or bad thing, it depends on whether or not you approach it from a realistic perspective or not. You are always going to have to kiss a little butt, unless you are the President/Owner of the operation (even then a bit of butt kissing with clients is in order) but you will SHINE if you are honest and try to be friendly. If these tactics make your employers hostel, you need new ones.

    June 20, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  6. Clint, GA

    Greg is hyping his book. What type does he identify with?

    June 20, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  7. Roberta

    I work with a person who smiles most of the time. She's a genuinely nice person and is the most helpful supervisor in the building. If I'm getting no satisfaction from other supervisors I go to her. Thanks Deb for doing a great job.

    June 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  8. Chicken Curry

    Anastasia: Ditto! It seems like the majority of comments above were made by stop signs! True, the author could have done a little better with the Title but then again this is an excellent ploy to get a record number of copies sold. This is definitely a priority! Personally, I've always had a problem with ALL forms of negativity. I'm surprised this little excerpt did not include a bit about the Genuinely positive type. Along with myself there are quite a few of these where I work!

    June 20, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  9. Judy

    I've been very unhappy in MO for I've seen so many abusive behaviors these past nine years in neighbors very close by me. Maybe it's the center of the housing bubble but these people have been poised and are exploding in spite of being a "move up, upper middle class group". It's not corporate politic behaviors bugging me; it's seeing the ambulance cart of a neighbor girl to the psych ward while her brother gets expelled from school and the other teen losing a license in a DUI accident etc. I have a "Christian" woman locally who thinks "fart" is a curse word but who also admitted that she defaulted on 4 credit cards and faild to report to the IRS that she has been a housekeeper 4 days a week for the past 6 years that I know about. As my list of complaints about "people" got lengthly, I began ignoring them as much as possible and doing genealogic research farther away instead. Now my mantra is that I hate people, and dead people don't lie, cheat, steal, do drugs, or go to psych lock ups, it's all past history.

    June 20, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  10. Anastasia

    I hate people and have no interest in "combatting personalities." My strategy is to get as far away from people as I can for as long as I can. Sometimes I can't even stand to be around myself.

    June 20, 2009 at 8:43 am |
  11. Daniel Hickman

    I love how no one associates thier own person to these labels, but everyone knows these labels. Hahaha, it's you we're talking about, asswipe!

    June 20, 2009 at 6:58 am |
  12. Laura

    I smile all the time but never have an agenda behind it. It's just who I am. I'm a happy person and if I can make someone else laugh or smile or brighten their ho-hum workday even a little, I like to think it's worth it. We all have to do the grind 40 hours a week, why not try to make some of it, *gasp!*, happy? This man almost sounds a little bitter, a tad paranoid and a whole lot of negative and that's too bad. Hopefully he can accept a genuine person that crosses his path one day and realizes that we're not all out to get him.

    June 20, 2009 at 3:26 am |
  13. s

    all i want to say is i can relate to the switchblade.

    June 20, 2009 at 3:25 am |
  14. dylan

    No katie greg is right. Corporate America is generally thought of as being whitecollar jobs and such. Working in a factory for GE or Chrysler is definitely not working in "Corporate America." Even many jobs at Wal-Mart would not be defined as whitecollar jobs. If companies defined Corporate America, as you suggest, then at least 98% of Americans would be working in "Corporate America." Maybe not most, but the majority of people DO NOT work in Corporate America.

    June 20, 2009 at 2:10 am |
  15. Eli

    Never trust anyone who uses Comic Sans in a presentation. Seriously. It's the epitome of amateurism.

    June 20, 2009 at 12:23 am |
  16. Kat

    You don't need to be in a big company to find a lousy 'corporate culture'. I found the 'we hate people' attitude prevalent in a company of less than 250 employees, and it was a social services, not-for-profit!

    There was a chasm between the business side and the social services side, and the people with college degrees in social sciences typically got ousted by their endless re-organizations, while people in the business and admin side of things stayed on and became more and more bitter. New hires of counseling staff would come in, all excited to do good things, only to be cut down by the Leadership Team and their 'we hate people' attitude, which had become institutionalized as the corporate culture.

    Another re-organization would occur and the disillusioned counseling staff would be laid off, new counseling staff hired, and the whole circus performed yet again.

    "I hate people", "We hate people", however it goes in a business environment you're not going to be a productive as you'd like because you're working on some psycho drama that has no proper place in the work place!

    June 19, 2009 at 11:02 pm |
  17. Deb

    People absolutely can talk to their bosses that way without getting fired. It's simply a matter of going in and respectfully saying, "Look, I have these two things that you want me to do, but they're both happening at the same time. Which do you want me to give priority to?" Smart employees do this all the time.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:58 pm |
  18. Katie

    I'm always saying "I hate people" myself...and Greg's comment below makes me realize why. What do you mean "most people don't work in corporate America"?! Of course they do. Corporate America is more than just a building on Wall Street. It's Walmart, Chrysler, GE, Starbucks, etc. I can go on and on. A lot of smaller companies you may see have a large Parent. Therefore...Corporate America. Think outside the box Greg.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  19. Lisa

    My mantra has always been
    "I love people. I swear I do!"
    That's actually the opposite of what I mean.
    I kinda hate people too!

    But don't hate me for admitting it.
    Please, I'm just "people".

    June 19, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  20. Greg

    This was lame and most people don't work in corporate america so it doesn't really apply. Secondly the stuff he is saying might get people fired. Especially talking to they're boss the way that he is suggesting. I wonder has he ever really worked before?

    June 19, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  21. Tony Smit

    The Peanuts cartoon had one strip many years ago, where Linus tells Lucy he wants to be a doctor.

    Lucy tells him he can't be a doctor because he doesn't love mankind.

    Linus retorts, "I love mankind. It's people I can't stand!"

    June 19, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  22. Fred Robinson


    Where was Cinderella today? Is she preparing for another function?



    June 19, 2009 at 11:56 am |