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255: Confident Communication & Handling Jerks at Work - Tessa West

On Air with Ella - podcast episode 255


Social psychologist Tessa West has spent years leveraging science to help people solve interpersonal conflicts through better communication. In her new book Jerks at Work, she shares a deep dive of the 7 jerks you’re most likely to encounter at the office, drawing on research to expose their inner workings and weak points, and giving us tips on how to shut them down. Her tips are universally useful - at work, at home or anywhere else you want to manage conflict, engage in non-toxic communication and communicate with confidence.


  • The 7 types of jerks at work: Kiss Up/Kick Down, Credit Stealers, Bulldozers, Free Riders, Micromanagers, Neglectful Bosses, Gaslighters

  • Gaslighting - what is it really? How do we deal with it?

  • Social comparison orientation - the degree to which we naturally compare ourselves with other people - where do you fall on the scale?

  • TAKE TESSA'S QUIZ TO FIND OUT: Social Comparison Orientation Scale

  • Social dominance orientation - why some people LOVE a hierarchy

  • The power of "grabbing power early" in a work environment

  • The spotlight effect – a common bias that leads people to overestimate how much other people are paying attention to them

  • The "4 Horsemen of Unhealthy Conflict:" criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling

  • What do you say if someone is trying to take credit for your idea?

  • How to get someone to step up if they are free loading on the back of the team


Tessa West is a leading expert in the science of interpersonal communication. She has published over 70 academic articles in psychology’s most prestigious journals and has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Her book Jerks at Work provides a hands-on guide to tackling everyday problems with difficult people in the workplace.


  • Tessa's Tip: for UTI relief!


Twitter: @tessawestNYU

Instagram: @west.tessa



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