How Not to be a Dick in Work

I’m a big admirer of Huel, from both the perspective of a marketer and as a nutritoinist (I have an MSc in Nutrition). I recently saw the Huel office wall – “Don’t be a Dick” on my Linkedin newsfeed:

It certainly got my attention. A good bit of social media marketing foda, if nothing else.

It does sound similar to Google’s, now infamous, “don’t be evil” mission statement or motto which has since been dropped. Probably because they’re a bit evil.

The potential problem with such a bold statement, is that – nobody thinks they are a dick. Even the laziest, most unpleasant people I’ve ever worked with, will constantly complain about others, but put themselves on a (dodgy) DIY pedestal. Self serving bias is an amazing thing.

This video explains the dickhead-bias a bit more – people who think they’re a good person, usually aren’t:

With this in mind, I thought I’d put together a post, on what I think, a dickhead’s behaviour typically entails; I hope it helps!

Summary

  • Feedback in private, not in public or in meetings
  • Do not try and control & do everything, then complain nobody is helping you
  • Do not talk over people in meetings
  • Don’t be aggressive in the office – it’s cowardly
  • Don’t ‘bad mouth’ any other colleagues – it makes other anxious
  • Find a productive way to vent your negative feelings – complaining & projecting negative emotions needs to be avoided at all costs
  • Don’t make fun of people, unless they’re a good friend and it’s mutual banter
  • Don’t force your opinions on other people – unless they’re backed with data

Work hard, have a laugh, have each other’s backs


On a Personal Note (Bit of a mind-dump)

Please skip this bit unless you want to know my mental health history!

This section is a personal rant that I embarked upon after a few beers on a Saturday (what else can you do during lockdown!?)

SEO and MMA blog founder Drew Griffiths
Grapple & Strike – Light HeavyWeight Final – 2007

So that’s me, in the picture above, on the left – about to slam UFC fighter Jack Marshman into the canvas. You can watch the video here.

You’d think that 8 MMA fights, 1 Full Contact Kickboxing Fight and years’ of experience as a doorman, might make me immune to office bullying – but if you did – you would be very wrong.

I hold myself accountable for not building enough confidence and not being able to set boundaries very well, but being mocked, shouted at, literally screamed at, made fun of constantly – led me down a pretty slipperly mental health slope in the last 3 years.

Again, I’m happy to ‘own’ this, I need thicker skin, but a vent on my own blog can’t hurt, I don’t think?

Maybe I’m a threat to people, maybe they don’t get me, I don’t know but avoid being a dick if you can because it literally made me suicidal…

I honestly think that 90% of people try and be good and nice, but they don’t realise when they are being dickheads. Not many people have the emotional intelligence to detach and evaluate their behaviour. Either way, never take anything personally and remember “hurt people, hurt people” – i.e. people will issues, often become bullies or general wankers.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of dickhead-behaviour, don’t be bitter, finds ways to cope and improve your resilience, lean into negative feelings and use them positively as fuel for exercise etc.

We all just want to be accepted and valued, if you can help people to achieve a sense of both – then you’ll avoid being a dick.

The problem I found was that, the worse my mental health was, the more spaced-out I felt and the more people made fun of me.

My depression & anxiety, really started to get bad in university. I had some problems as a kid, after my dad died, I remember having loads of skin peeling of my hands – and the doctor saying it was stress related, think I would have been about 7. I had stomach and GI issues starting at age 14 (a typical physical symptom of anxiety) and then started with really, excruciating muscle & joint pain. This was really confusing, because I literally couldn’t sleep and my feet and knees were always really painful, I used to ice them all the time. I went to the doctor’s and he said – “nothing is red or swollen, so there can’t be any pain”. This really messed me up, as I thought that I was clearly in pain, but apparently that was impossible – so what was I feeling then? was I going mad? Since then I’ve learnt that muscle pain is also a typical symptom of anxiety, it’s also a common side-effect of the acid-reflux medication they’d had me on for about 10 years. Wankers!

Anyway, got a bollocking and called a nutter by my mum when I told her what the diagnosis was (depression & health-anxiety), girlfriend at the time also had a go at me – for feeling sorry for myself – eventhough I’d not really been feeling sorry for myself or at least I hadn’t gone to the doctors about that, I’d gone to see why my muscles and joints were constantly hurting.

Depression is often caused by inflammation – inflammation can be caused by a lot of things, but gut issues are a common source. Inflammation can cause the muscle pain, anxiety adds muscle tension in the mix and you have a very painful body – especially if you’ve been hammering acid-reflux medication for a decade. Inflammation often causes brain-fog.

Brain-fog is a nightmare. It’s such a vague term that it sounds like bullshit, but if you think how groggy your mind can become when you have a bad cold – it’s a bit like that. In fact, I’d describe my issues with mental health as a bit like having a cold, all the time – as I don’t really think particularly negatively, I just get a shit-load of physical symptoms.

So 2003, after getting told to basically stop moaning and get on with life, Brain-fog-galore, and riddled with muscle pain, I go to work in a local hotel gym. I’m basically a zombie with muscles. This is the problem with depression, the more depressed and/or anxious you feel, the more spaced-out you will become and the more people will give you shit.

I had a first class degree from a top 10 UK uni, and a Master’s degree, but would regularly get introduced to people as “the thick one” whilst in work.

No real issues with people when I got my next job in a bank call centre. The same when I got my first digital marketing job – everyone was pretty cool. I’ve fitted in great in some places, but other places, people have not been particularly nice.

I’m quite eccentric and don’t have any self-confidence, so I guess I’m an easy target? Or maybe I’m just a dick myself – who knows? I used to be Buddhist and would always turn the other cheek – I’ve recently changed my life-philosophy to ‘modified Buddhism’ – Be nice to everyone, don’t take offence or get defensive with your close friends and family, but don’t take any shit off people you don’t know or don’t like.


Feedback in Private, Praise in Public

The number 1 passive aggressive tactic of an office dickhead, appears to be the eagerness, to feedback in front of as many people as possible.

This can cause all kinds of issues as a rebuttal will also be witnessed by colleagues, meaning that the initiator looks like a bit of an idiot.

Example –

In a team meeting, someone complains that you didn’t complete a task correctly. Instead of telling you at the time and giving you an opportunity to rectify any issues.

Feedback should be timely, specific and delivered privately.


Gaslighting – did it really happen like that?

I don’t think people realise how damaging, ‘gaslighting’ can be.

In case you’re not one of the cool kids – gaslighting was a term coined in a book (I think), within which the husband would mess with the gas lights in the house – the wife would say “did you see that, the lighting keeps going off?” to which the husband would typically reply “nope – you’re obviously going insane, nothing happened”

Do this a few times, and the victim will question their grasp on reality and have no confidence in what they’ve seen or perceived.


Don’t Put Other People Down

There are lots of ways to make yourself feel better. You can exercise, learn new skills, meditate, go for a walk in nature, have a bit of banter.

unfortunately, the default way, and lazy way to make oneself better is to put other people down.

This is a bad idea in work for a few reasons.

  1. You make those around you more anxious
  2. You make yourself more anxious

How does it make others anxious?

Well, let’s say you slate someone for making a stupid mistake.

This will make others more fearful of making mistakes. You also push yourself into a kind of metaphorical corner because if you make any mistakes, you will looks like a hypocrite and a bellend.


Assume Miscommunication Not Malice

Be aware of the main cognitive biases, and don’t have stupidly high expectations of your colleages.

If something goes wrong – could you have communicated the task better? Have you been approachable enough?

did you provide the nessery training?

Is morale low because everyone is always moaning?

Are you inspirnig others or being a dick?

If something goes wrong, don’t blame and finger point – see what you could have done differently.

7/10 there has been some kind of communication breakdown.

Avoid any negative-bias, have a more positive-bias in regards to people and give respect to get respect.


Don’t Have Aggressive Opinions about Stuff You’ve not Researched

if you haven’t read a book or researched a topic – how can you have an aggressive opinion about it?

If you shout louder than someone else – does that make your opinion more valid?

What is your opinion based on? Information, experience or a self-serving bias?

I once attempted and stuck to a low card, ketogenic diet for anxiety.

Every man and his dog slated me for it.

“Someone tell Drew to go and look at a food pyramid” exclaimed one, morbidly obese office dickhead.

Did I mention I’ve got a Master’s degree in Nutrition?

If you’d like an informed opinion on low carb diets, this article is a good starting point.


Don’t Get Angry

If you are consistenly losing your shit, you either have expectations that are too high, and/or you are not taking accountability like you should.

If you lose your temper – you will make those around you anxious.

An office is not a place for aggression. If I spend all day controlling any impulses after years of training to fight people, I expect the same of others.

marcus aurelius quote - calm mind

Don’t Talk Over People in Meetings

This one is so obvious – yet people still do it all the time.

Best way to deal with interrupters, seems to be to wait for them to finish and then say “…as I was saying…” and carry on.

Don’t be H.I.T.O.

A new abbreviation that I literally just made up, stands for:

Hard In The Office

HITO dickheads will get aggressive and use confrontational postures to try and itimidate people in the office.

It’s just not appropriate, go and work on a building site if that’s what you’re into.

youre hard - the office

Cynicism is not Superior

Negativity is a lazy way to feel superior, as is cynicism.

cynicism in the office

It’s not difficult to find fault in ideas, projects, work people have done – finding solutions to those faults is challenging and much more productive. Many office inhabitants prefer to moan and pick fault however, I guess because it’s easier and makes them feel superior.

According to the Macmillan Dictionary, cynicism is defined as:

“…the belief that people care only about themselves and are not sincere or honest…the belief that things will not be successful or useful…the attitude or behavior of someone who is willing to let other people be harmed in order to get advantage.”

I think this quote or snippet says it all really:

“In a management training that my company sent me to a few years back, I was introduced to a new concept: “cynical terrorists.” This category was meant to describe the kind of person who assumes the worst of everyone, shoots down every new idea, and generally drenches their environment in negativity with the volatile energy of a broken sprinkler system”

Quote Source

There is often ‘much logic’ in cynacism, but it can lay a very negative foundation to all of your thoughts and interactions.

Sometimes, I believe, it is better not to think 100% logically. If something lies out of your control, for example, other people’s attitudes, other people’s abilites – then you may as well find a positive in it.

For example, if you work with someone who doesn’t know how to do his or her job very well – this is an opportunity for you to help someone out, or from a narcisstic point of view – to look good!

marcus - i do what is mine to do, the rest does not disturb me

If you want to create a culture of negativity and disrespect, then cynicism is the way to go – more info in this study.


Don’t Hold Grudges

Try and vent in a positive manner. You need to vent – I think anyway – but venting in work and holding grudges is a pretty negative way of dealing with your emotions. Use it to fuel exercise, to motivate you to learn a new skill, or ‘get it all’ out with yoga and/or meditation.

I’ve been guilty of taking pride in never moaning or complaining, only for a rant to come out of nowhere when I’m tired or feeling low – e.g. when my son is teething and not sleeping!

Being spiteful in work however, is the epitome of bellend behaviour – not helping people out for eample, because you are holding a grudge is not exactly being a team-player.


Be Aware of Cognitive Biases

2 of the most common cognitive biases, are self-serving bias and confirmation bias. Also “Fundamental Attribution Error”. I remember one dickhead beeping and waving his fist at a learner-driver, only to complain about a man on his street who was aggressive with learner drivers.

Of course he had an excuse for himself. We judge others directly by events, but we always have an excuse for our own behaviour.

Infographic Source


Don’t Disempower People then Complain they’re not Helping

Don’t be one of those dicks who has to control everything and then complains that he or she is the only one that every does anything


Don’t Take Things Out of Context

This well annoys me.

Apparently, I get all my nutrition info from conspiracy theorist Joe Rogan, I am an anti-vaxxer because I question the flu-jab for children and I went on the keto diet to lose weight.

Not of these are true, people just skew everything, not sure why. I do get some of my nutrition tips/info from Joe Rogan’s podcasts, but usually from Dr Rhonda Patrick and Professor Dom D’agastino – I’ll always check their info against Google Scholar and Examine.com too. I’m not an anti-vaxxer at all and I went on the keto diet to help with anxiety.


Don’t Think Less of Yourself, Think of Yourself Less

just do the right thing, cold or warm, tired or well rested. despised or honoured