6 Reasons Why You're a Jerk

6 Reasons Why You're a Jerk

Are you a jerk? Here’s why.

Posted Jan 31, 2012

Has someone said you’re acting like a jerk (or worse) in social situations?   Here are 6 reasons why you may have earned this title:

1.  You only talk about yourself.

Yes, you may have climbed the Himalayas, and you may have swam the entire length of the Amazon – good for you.  That is an enviable accomplishment.  That doesn’t mean everyone wants to hear about it ad nauseum.  Be interested in other people.  Ask them questions about themselves. 

You may also be one of those people who answers with, “Oh yeah, me too” after someone mentions an adventure they’ve been on.  That’s fine, as long as you don’t steer the conversation right back to yourself again.  Remember, your job is to ask, not to tell.

2.  You tell offensive jokes/ use offensive language

If people aren’t laughing, or they’re doing a polite “tee hee”, your joke was not funny.  While some people may not come right out and tell you that your joke was foul, watch for their uncomfortable body language.  They squirm.  Now if your whole point was to make people uncomfortable, bravo.  You have succeeded.  But you look like a jerk.  But even worse, you’ve made yourself look like much more than a jerk.  And it’s tough to bounce back from that.  If you’re not sure a joke is offensive or not, here is a simple rule.  If you’re not sure, don’t tell the joke.  If this isn’t a joke you’d tell your grandmother, don’t say it.

Don’t be that guy.  No one wants to be that guy.

3.  You’re pushy and intrusive.

Don’t ask people why they haven’t had children yet.  Or when they are going to lose their baby weight. 

Here are some “safe” topics that are good ways to start a conversation: the weather; a mutual favorite sports team (note: mutual); something the other person is wearing; current events (be careful about this one); something in your immediate surroundings; one of the person’s accomplishments.  What not to bring up: anything related to weight, baby-making, or past mistakes. 

And keep it positive.  Noting something in your immediate surroundings does not mean, “Hey, did you see that ugly outfit that woman is wearing?  Disgusting!”  It means, “The buffet is great, isn’t it?”

Yes, it’s small talk.  And yes, you have to do it.

4.  You’re mean.

People don’t like people who are nasty to others.  You may tell yourself, I don’t care if people like me. Wrong.  You do care when you get passed over for promotions because you’re the guy with a chip on his shoulder.  The jerk.

If you’re not sure if you’re mean, ask your friends or a significant other.  They will tell you.

5.  You show disrespect for others and their opinions.

This doesn’t mean you have to agree wtih someone.  But even if their viewpoint is vastly different from yours, they should still be spoken to with respect.

For example, if someone tells you they are Anti-Blah, an appropriate response would be either:

a) “Really?  Tell me more about that.”

b) “Hmmm.  That’s interesting, because I’ve always thought…”
(Note that this isn’t a question, but still gets your point out without looking like a jerk.  It also opens up the topic for more discussion.)

Wrong: “OMG!  I cannot believe you are *that* stupid!”

(It is okay to say this in your head, however.  Just not out loud.)

6.  You whine and/or complain.

Everyone has a right to bring up a concern.  However, bringing up a concern and whining/complaining are different things.  Bringing up a concern means that you are actively seeking a solution to said concern.  Whining/complaining is just stating something you don’t like just for the sake of stating it.  This is a no-no at social gatherings.  No one wants to listen to you complain about your bunions.

In other words, don’t kvetch.  Be positive.  Save your complaints and whining for those you love.  (No, not really.  They don’t want to hear it either.)


Copyright 2012 Sarkis Media LLC

About the Author

Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, Ph.D., N.C.C., D.C.M.H.S., L.M.H.C., is the author of Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive Peopleand Break Free

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