How to handle rude coworkers

If you've worked for any length of time, you have probably crossed paths with a coworker whose main goal seemed to be making you miserable. Trying to get along with a coworker who is rude and mean to you on a regular basis makes for a difficult working relationship. It's especially hard to work with someone who constantly criticizes everything you do and attempts to make you look bad to your boss and other coworkers. The easiest solution would be to stay completely away from such a coworker, but this is usually impossible. So what should you do?

First, put yourself in your coworker's place. Is there something going on in their personal life that could be affecting their attitude toward you? We all know we're supposed to leave our personal lives at home, but sometimes we have a hard time doing so. Ask about the spouse, the kids, the home. Your coworker may just need to unload, and may actually appreciate someone taking an interest in their life outside of work.

More likely, your coworker feels threatened by you in some way. Are layoffs looming? Maybe they're afraid of being displaced. Are you doing the job in a different way than your coworker would? They might take it personally as a criticism to their abilities. Has someone else that works with you relayed your dissatisfaction with the working relationship? No matter how many "no gossip" rules there are in a workplace, people gossip. We're all human, we all make mistakes:  we all try to defend our turf, and our workplace is our turf.

If your coworker is trying to blame you for what's wrong at work, making you look bad to your boss, you have the right to defend yourself. Ask the boss for a meeting, but carefully draft what you're going to say. Supervisors don't like personal conflict. They just want the job to get done correctly. On one hand, they don't like constant complaints, but on the other hand, the squeaky wheel does get the grease. Tell your boss your goals for your job, ask if he agrees with your methods, and invite his suggestions for improvement.

Difficult as it is to communicate with someone unpleasant every day, try to be friendly and helpful to everyone. Walk away when a coworker begins to engage in childish behavior that is detrimental to your job performance. Choose one person you can let off steam with that can be trusted to keep your venting confidential. Try to maintain your sense of humor to keep your stress level down. After all, with everything you've done and will do in your life, the opinions of one coworker won't matter in the long run--unless you let it.

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Comments 16 comments

Ktoo profile image

Ktoo 7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Thanks! Good input!

Apostille 7 years ago

Thanks for sharing such a good information.

catwhitehead profile image

catwhitehead 7 years ago Author

I'm glad you enjoyed it.

norcalbutterfly 7 years ago

i still need suggestions. I am being harassed by 2-3 people out of a 10 person office of being a drunk of all things. I am the youngest in the office. So frequently on mondays I am asked what I did over the weekend. I will reply with, hungout with friends, I do realize I should be more specific now, but if I say hungout with friendsI am not sure whyt his automatically makes these 3 people say I got "wasted". The 3-5 times I have been sick in almost my year in this office I have been told the next day "oh you were hungover". I don't get where this is coming from. I work, go to school and keep up with my fitness. Not to say I don't drink or haven't been drunk in my earlier 20s. But I am not sure where this is steming from at all. I need some suggestions from people cause it is out of hand. What amazed me was recently one of these people asked if I got wasted at a concert i recently went to and the boss was right there and almost wanted to hear me say yes, so it sounds like a good amount of people assume this from one person starting it and i am beyond confused. Am I not suppose to go out with friends to dinner, or an area that serves drinks a few times a month?! I know that answer is a no, I should be able to do these normal mid 20 things but why I am being called a drunk and people assuming if I'm sick I'm really just hungover. It's rude, I think I am being judged. They don't even ask what I did if I say how I went out with my friends. It's oh you got drunk! And I am just at a lost for words when they say this, if I try to say no I went to the movies, no I went to the mall, went to dinner, someone is speaking loudly to drown me out so they cannot hear what I really did. Its getting around and it's making me feel alone cause I know who I am. I don't know where they built this character of me from. I have heard someone say I always talk about alcohol and that blew my mind completely open. They speak of food and all kinds of drinks all day long?! They are blaming me for their conversations but it is strange to see people who hardly get along themselves to gang up on me. Anyone have any suggestions? Sorry so long. I am just at a loss.

catwhitehead 7 years ago

The problem is at the end of your comment. These people hardly get along themselves. They're unhappy, bored, and jealous that you have a life you enjoy. Does tearing you down make them happier? No, but they probably get a sort of grim satisfaction from it. Try asking a coworker who doesn't seem as vicious as the others how their weekend was. Ask another about their children or grandchildren. Do this regularly without elaborating on celebrations you've attended and some of your coworkers might lose the attitude, or at least let up enough for you to be able to ask for your supervisor's advice. Sometimes we have to go through rough spots to get to smooth ones.

Veronica M 6 years ago

It's always best to ignore such co-workers because they must be sad people. Imagine how miserable they must be to go around harrassing and putting down other people. Just ignore them and focus on your work.

Kathy 6 years ago

Best advice I've read outside of a 12-step program. Very insightful, well written and makes the not so easy task sound reachable. Will look for more articles from this writer.

Adrienne 5 years ago


patty al 5 years ago

Ur so right. On fat jealous pigs be nice their sad

EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 5 years ago from Croatia, Europe

Yes, so true what you said. They are like porcupines, they are hurting on the inside so they are poking you because they think your life is better than theirs, whether that's accurate info or not.

I have found that if I pray for the bastards, I start changing my attitude and can see their good points and watch out for their bad ones. I have some coworkers who are "spies" but they have other positive attributes so I enjoy the good and don't say anything in front of them that could backfire later. That's life!

chooter 4 years ago

Help me please....I have a coworker who I get along with professionally until recently when we got a new boss. I have become busier and not as social, she is very social and will come in my office to eat, do her make up and visit. My responses are short and I let her know I have a deadline etc, but would love to chat at lunch, she sometimes leaves, and sometimes does not. On occasion she will literally dance in my doorway to get a reaction, when she does not get a reaction, she will rudely and loudly say, "What's wrong with you"? I always reply, nothing I am just busy right now. How do I deal with this? We are both female and have worked together for over a year. Thank you to everyone for the feedback.

stacy 4 years ago

Tell her that there is a time & place 2 goof around, or just ignore her, tell her 2 bug someone else! Come back in 15 mins then say yer still busy if need be!

Lynda 2 years ago

I'm sorry but this is a lot of fluff. I am done making excuses for other peoples poor behavior. Some people go from job to job throwing people under the bus and causing havoc in the work place. It is a defect in their character and the best thing to do is do your job well and always know who you are dealing with because there will always be that one person who is so insecure that the only way they know how to make headway is to make you look bad.

Johng368 2 years ago

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Meena 2 years ago

While I can appreciate the conetmms by those who hire have left here, I have to say that you offered no interview tips beyond the typical be yourself . I have experienced age discrimination since I turned 40 (7+ years ago). I have had no interview since I became unemployed more than a year ago. And, for those I had before being unemployed, being myself wasn't enough. I was told each time that while I had all the qualifications and experience they needed, another candidate seemed a better fit. Not that they had experiences better than mine, not that their education was better, etc. Even playing field between me and the other candidate except for one thing .age. Every candidate hired was younger than me by 10 or more years.No-one is interested, it seems to me, in the benefits of hiring an older worker. I need any help I can get to show the interviewer I am an excellent candidate and can perform my job as good as or better than the younger candidate. While I won't buy this product, I suggest rather than just bad mouthing a product you provide your own suggestions beyond the canned be yourself . Otherwise you are no different than those you say are teaching others a script that gets the person hired for a job they will soon be fired from.I could use a lot of help. I have a completely new combination resume (if I remember its name correctly) that WIB told me employers prefer to the chronological one I was using. It has one or two word self-descriptors followed by work experience, then companies I've worked for, then Education, etc. That has yet to get me an interview.I am comfortable in interviews, always have been, but the fewer I get as I age, the less comfortable I am. I believe I have a cover letter that enhances my resume well. I most certainly have a good educational and work background. What I don't have is the help I need to tell me what I need to change of these I've mentioned or something or other I haven't mentioned.

Simona 2 years ago

Hi Laura,If there is ageism out there, can't you shtoern your resume (if you haven't interviewed in the last year something isn't working) if you haven't already done so? For example the career I'm in now, and have been for 12 years, has nothing whatsoever to do with what I did for the first 6 years of my working life (temp jobs, working in supermarkets, just finding my feet etc) so I don't include any of that. Its not a lie, I just don't include it its irrelevant. For someone analyzing dates on my resume they might think I'm 6 years younger than I am, but that's not the intended purpose. I'm just removing anything irrelevant from my resume to keep it clean and specific to my skills. But this structure of resume might benefit you if you feel you are experiencing ageism.If possible summerise anything prior to say the last 15 years, if you were in irrelevant positions prior to then leave them off completely. If you were in relevant positions then maybe summerize that chunk of your career in a paragraph rather than itemising every job you did back to when you left education. If you also leave your dates of education off of your resume it will make the people scanning resume' really have to work hard to estimate your age and therefor exclude you from interviews.I am not saying lie on the resume, tell the truth 100% but beat them at their own game. This might get you in front of a Hiring Manager and at that point simply state I wanted to keep my resume upto date and relevant to the last decade or so but if you'd like specifics on every job I've done I'll happily give them to you now'. By then hopefully they'll not care/like you enough your age will not be an issue. Good luck

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