Ditch the Jerks

Date: March 12, 2020
Author: Kristin Zhivago
Photo of a woman smiling after she found a b2b marketing agency that is a good fit

In this post, social media expert Lindsay Hernandez shares her views on working with jerks, and why you just shouldn’t take it anymore.

I read an article recently that shared tips and tricks on how to work with difficult people. The majority of this article said that it is best to accept the reality of your situation and deal with it, or in other words, suck it up. That didn’t sit very well with me, as I have been in this predicament on more than one occasion throughout my career. The sad reality for many is that working with a jerk is becoming the norm in today’s workplace, something you assume you have to endure in order to find success within an organization. It can be extremely debilitating working for a complete jerk. I couldn’t bring myself to believe it was something you should ignore or have to endure. So, I made a decision: I decided it was time to ditch the jerks.

I took a leap of faith last year after my son was born, quitting my full time job after maternity leave without having anything else lined up. I was in a toxic environment working for a team of not-so-nice leaders that left me feeling depleted almost daily. It wasn’t the first time I had experienced this in my career, and I was ready to make a change. Fortunately for me, taking the leap of faith paid off in more ways than I can express. I was able to find a home at an amazing company, Zhivago Partners, where during my very first interview founder Kristin Zhivago told me she does not work with jerks. I was taken back by her candidness, but I absolutely loved it. It was exactly the change I was looking for.

My short time at Zhivago Partners has led me to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career, specifically how I’ll never work with a jerk again if I can help it. I’d like to share with you four things I’ve learned in hopes that it will help you in some way. Maybe you’ve had enough too, and, if so, hopefully these points will give you enough courage to make a change.

  • Working for a jerk shouldn’t be the norm. Countless mentors have told me time and time again in my career that working with jerks is just part of the reality of having a job. I beg to differ. You don’t have to accept this to be the norm. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that being treated poorly is something you have to endure in order to be successful. It’s not a rite of passage you have to take in order to climb the ladder of success. No matter what anyone at any level of seniority tells you, it is NOT normal, it is NOT okay, and you do NOT have to accept it.

  • You do not have the power to positively influence someone enough to make them change. You may be the most positive person in the room, on your team, or in your office, but unless someone is ready and willing to change, they won’t. It is an absolute waste of energy for you to put in time and effort to try to change someone, even for the better. You cannot break years of jerkiness. It’s simply a waste of your mental energy to try to control what you have no control over. Focus on what you can change: yourself. That does not mean that you stoop down to their level, however. Be the bright light in the room, smile every time you see said jerk, and be respectful no matter what. 

  • Working with positive people creates positive results. I work with an amazing group of people at Zhivago Partners, and as a result, I am massively more productive and excited to do my job. This may seem obvious, but for many, it never comes to fruition. It is far too easy to act one way in front of impressionable people and then be horrible to your team behind closed doors. Your team will not do their very best work if you treat them this way. Why would they want to? I work with a leader who genuinely cares for her team, gives them positive reinforcement, rewards them when she knows it’s earned, and does the right thing. This is hard to find, but I can tell you it does exist.

  • The last point I want to share is to don’t turn into the jerk: do the right thing, even if it’s not the popular choice. You have a choice every single day to do the right thing. Cut out all of the negative people, choose not to gossip and turn the other way when you are tempted to do something that will lead to your personal gain but wind up hurting someone else in the process. It is not worth it and, further, someday it will come back to you. Just do the right thing. No matter what.

I’m able to do what I truly love at Zhivago Partners—be creative and work with an awesome group of people. I’ve searched my entire career for a place where I feel respected and valued and in the short amount of time I’ve worked at Zhivago Partners, I can say with confidence that I certainly do. I have the opportunity to do some pretty awesome stuff including working with social media, influencer marketing, and account-based marketing. Because I feel valued and respected, I put forth my best effort every time I am ready to work, allowing me to tap into my fullest potential. 

That’s the key to success: not only doing what you love, but loving who you work with. Do yourself a favor. Decide not to work with jerks anymore.

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