Get advice on how to deal with jerks at work Check out the book 'Jerks At Work' and other titles by Ken Lloyd Ph.D. Return to the homepage Learn more about Ken Lloyd, Ph.D. Submit a question to Ken Lloyd, Ph.D.

You asked, Ken answers ...

This item is filed under these categories:
Assertiveness Power Plays and Players Placating Manipulation

We report to a manager who always knows just the right thing to say. When problems develop, he calms us down and makes statements that sound like everything is going to turn out fine. The only problem is that he is merely placating us, because he never takes care of whatever it was that got us upset in the first place. What's the best way to deal with him?

Managers who have the ability to say just the right thing to calm the group down, but do nothing to deal with the real issues, are typically known in the trade as "slick." Their veneer is well-polished, as is their ability to sway the group.

These managers usually have a good deal of charisma. And, by using a charming and disarming style, many days can pass before the employees realize that this individual's words speak louder than his actions.

One of the more effective ways to deal with a manager who is smooth around the edges is to try to turn his generalities into specifics. When you and your associates are concerned about a specific problem and your manager provides a high gloss response, you should respond with some questions, particularly those that start with "What?" "Where?" "When?" and "How?"

The idea behind this approach is not to challenge your manager, but to try to turn his generalities into specifics. He will probably swing into super-gloss mode and ask you how the problem should be solved. You should be ready with a polished response.

Comment on this item

Your name (optional)
If you leave this blank, we'll list you as "Website visitor"

Your comments
Please keep your comments focused on the topic. Thanks!