I've been lucky--I have not had to work with many jerks during my career. But sometimes, people ask me what to do when you come across one.
I'm honestly not sure. One observation is that most of us are nice people and want to help, and the jerk seems to use this to his advantage. In this way, the jerk gets us to own things that are really his.
Our first response if often to defend, but that gives the power to the jerk. This is how the jerk wins--through surprise and intimidation. But instead of defending, or asking "how can I make your problem (and by extension, my discomfort) go away," it can be helpful just to observe what is happening.
"You seem to be upset."
"I can feel you are frustrated."
In this way, we can acknowledge the emotional content and begin to diffuse it. The conversation gets less heated, and generally more productive. And it becomes clear that the emotional state is that of the jerk, not you.
As I said, I've been fortunate not to have had many of these conversations at work. But I would love to hear others' thoughts on this. Because despite my good fortune, I think it's a topic that is one that arises quite a bit.
Thanks for your thoughts--