A practical and hilarious guide to getting difficult people off your back, for anyone pulling their hair out over an irritating colleague who's not technically breaking any rules
From open floor plans and Zoom calls to Slack channels, the workplace has changed a lot over the years. But there’s one thing that never changes: you’ll always encounter jerks. Jerks at Work is the definitive guide to dealing with—and ultimately breaking free from—the overbearing bosses, irritating coworkers, and all-around difficult people who make work and life miserable.
Social psychologist Tessa West has spent years leveraging science to help people solve interpersonal conflicts in the workplace. What she discovered is that most of our go-to tactics don’t work because they fail to address the specific motivations that drive bad behavior. In this book, she takes you on a rollicking deep dive of the seven jerks you’re most likely to encounter at the office, drawing on decades of original research to expose their inner workings and weak points—and ultimately deliver an effective game plan for stopping each type before they take you down with them.
Jerks at Work is packed with everyday examples and clever strategies, such as how to: • Stop a Bulldozer from gaining influence by making sure they're not the first to speak up in meetings • Report a Kiss Up/Kick Downer to a manager who idolizes them without looking like the bad guy • Protect your high-achieving team from Free Riders without stifling collaboration • Use a Gaslighter’s tactics to beat them at their own game
For anyone who’s said “I can’t stand that jerk!” more times than they’d like to admit, Jerks at Work is the ultimate playbook you wish you didn’t need but will always turn to.
About the Author
Tessa West is an Associate Professor of Psychology at New York University, where she is a leading expert on interpersonal interaction and communication. She has published over 60 articles in the field of psychology's most prestigious journals, and has received multiple grants, including from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. She is the recipient of the Theoretical Innovation Prize from the Societ for Personality and Social Psychology. She writes regularly about her research in the Wall Street Journal.
“Most of your happiness at work is based on personal relationships. Being able to manage those relationships when things get difficult is key to your success at work—and in life. Jerks at Work is a practical and engaging set of tools. Buy it.”—Scott Galloway, author of The Four
“Jerks at Work is a breezy and fun read for anyone who wants happier and healthier relationships at work. Tessa West puts a name to the types of jerks that can make your work life miserable, while also giving practical advice for how to spot them and how to disarm them. This a book you will refer back to again and again.”—Annie Duke, author of How to Decide
“West’s simultaneously humorous and no-nonsense approach to collegiality is broadly applicable. Leaders and workers alike will find in West an astute and personable guide."—Publisher's Weekly
"You never know when a jerk is going to get in the way of your success, but with Jerks at Work you can finally protect yourself. This book is career insurance!” —Vanessa Van Edwards, author of Captivate
"This book provides the key to working smarter, better, and happier, no matter who you're working with."—Nir Eyal, author of Hooked and Indistractable
“Tessa West combines easy-to-apply tips with relatable, funny, and shocking stories that will have you taking notes. Anyone regardless of industry or level will benefit from Jerks at Work.”—Jonah Berger, author of Contagious and The Catalyst
“Reading Jerks at Work is like listening to a real person who is smart, warm, and funny, and who I'd like to have a glass of wine with. That's unusual for any business or self-help author to achieve—from a scientist it's practically a miracle. This book basically has it all. I'm going to make it mandatory reading for everyone on my team. We all need this book.”—Heidi Grant, PhD, author of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, No One Understands You and What to Do About It, and Reinforcements
“Step back and rejoice, because Tessa West has done something rare and incredible with Jerks at Work. She has condensed and translated incredible insights from her experience as a psychologist, along with decades of relevant research, to create a fun, funny, and functional handbook for how to use science to make your job suck less whether behind your desk, in a conference room, or working from home.”—Dave McRaney, author of You're Not So Smart
“Funny and sharp, with great stories and wise and scientifically grounded advice, Jerks at Work is a life-saver for anyone who has to deal with difficult people at work—which includes just about everyone!”—Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto and author of The Sweet Spot “Tessa West is a star in the field of social psychology. She’s a stellar thinker, writer, and speaker, and D*cks at Work is poised to be a hit. We’ve all encountered a kiss-up-kick-down coworker, a micromanaging boss, or a workplace liar, and West explains what makes them tick, and how to prevent them from making the majority of our waking lives a nightmare.”—Adam Alter, Professor at New York University Stern School of Business and author of Drunk Tank Pink and Irresistible “It’s hard to believe that a book so insightful about how we can flourish at work is also this funny and raw.”—Eli J. Finkel, Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University and author of The All-Or-Nothing Marriage