The “Working With Idiots” Manifesto Guide

Posted by Bernie Reifkind on September 30, 2011

Finally, someone (me) has written a no nonsense, politically incorrect (though a little tongue in cheek) , employment survival guide to working with idiots.  And if you even think that one of your colleagues may be an idiot, he/she is.

Is it mean spirited to call your colleauges “idiots”?  Maybe, but what if it is true?

To begin, let’s define in clear terms the word idiot.  Surf on over to and you’ll read that “idiot” is defined as :

a foolish or stupid person

Well that pretty much nails it on the head.  So how does that apply to the workplace?

Here are 5 ways to make your life easier- let’s just call it the “Working with Idiots Manifesto Guide.”

1.  Master the dance:  In most work environments, there is a huge element of politics that gets played out that has nothing at all to do with the actual work.  The dance is a game played in which other employees are vying for the attention of superiors to exploit themselves for some type of gain, ie: a pay raise, a promotion, a better title, etc.  This includes “brown nosing”, bragging, taking full credit for a teams performance, etc.  It’s old fashion politics.  But knowing this and understanding this is critical to survival when working with idiots.  Master the dance.  Sometimes you have to tap dance, and sometimes you have to waltz.  Understand that the dance is in many ways critical to a job.  Knowing when to keep quiet, knowing when to let others shine (who might not deserve it), letting others brag, etc.  Know that other people are dancing constantly and it has nothing to do with you.

2.  Lose the battle to win the war: Choose your battles wisely when working with idiots.  Sometimes it is just not worth it to challenge someones ideas or behavior.  “Letting it go” is a powerful technique.  On the flip side, there are definitely things to fight for, but the majority of matters when dealing with idiot colleagues are just not worth it.  Ultimately an idiot colleague will be exposed without you having to say or do anything.  It is only a matter of time.

3.  Never email or text your opinion of colleagues: In the digital age, everything written is permanent.  One never knows who will ultimately read a text or an email that was never intended to be read by the wrong person.  In addition, keep your thoughts to your self.  When we voice our opinion of others we may believe that our secrets are being held,  but often they are not.  Hot juicy gossip is sometimes impossible to contain.  Confiding in others is a dangerous career decision.

4.  Flattery will get you everywhere: There is nothing more important to an idiot colleague than fanning the flame of their self esteem.  Even if your colleague makes a bone head suggestion, do the dance and flower this person with flattery.  “That was a great suggestion or …….wow what an impressive presentation!”  We all enjoy appropriate flattery obviously but an idiot colleague needs flattery to survive.  So feed this person some donuts of flattery nuggets, and guess who benefits: you.

5.  Change jobs: Sometimes this is quite frankly the only solution when you are working with idiots.  You cannot change others but you can change yourself.  We live in America and we are free to work where we want to, even in a down economy.  Sometimes it’s just not worth the mental strain to work with idiots which can often lead to physical ailments.  Moreover, if your job requires your own licensure, such as a Nursing Home Administrator, why take the risk of losing your license due to your idiot colleagues.

In summary, my intention in writing this article was to inject some humor for those of us who are trying to do our best but we are working with colleagues that in reality just get on our nerves.  Of course most people are not idiots, they just act like idiots.  But just maybe that is how we are perceived by others.  A good idea might be to take stock honestly and see if you are getting on other peoples nerves.  Read body language, refrain from speaking unless it is absolutely necessary and always be on the look out for cues:  are other people dancing?

I am Bernie Reifkind, CEO and founder of Premier Search, Inc.  I can be reached at 1(800) 801-1400 or email at  I welcome your phone call.


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