15 calm steps to deal with rude coworkers
Working with other people is already hard enough. So it can be incredibly frustrating if you have to deal with rude behavior at work. Unfortunately, some people bring all their negativity and rudeness into the office.
Such encounters can lower your productivity and lead to all kinds of workplace conflicts. This begs the question – how to deal with rude coworkers effectively?
There are different ways to deal with rude coworkers. As you know, office environments can be complicated, and there is no one approach that fits all cases.
In this article, I will let you in on a few things to try in situations where rude and disrespectful behavior is directed towards you or anyone else in the office.
Table of Contents
Examples of rude behavior in the workplace
It's no secret that dealing with rude coworkers can be a real challenge, but being able to identify this behavior is half the battle. So what constitutes rude behavior in the workplace?
Let's go through a few examples of rudeness in the workplace to help you recognize it when it happens:
- Interrupting others during meetings or conversations.
- Making sarcastic comments or mocking a colleague's ideas.
- Talking loudly on the phone in shared spaces, disrupting others' focus.
- Not acknowledging a coworker's greeting or ignoring them completely.
- Refusing to help a colleague in need, even when it's part of your job.
- Gossiping about or spreading rumors about coworkers behind their backs.
- Taking credit for a team member's work without acknowledging their contribution.
- Criticizing someone's performance publicly instead of addressing it privately.
- Making offensive or inappropriate jokes that make others uncomfortable.
- Constantly showing up late to meetings, disregarding the time of others.
It's important to remember that everyone has bad days in the office, but when these behaviors become a pattern, it's definitely time to address the issue.
Also, not all rudeness is evident at first glance, sometimes you are dealing with so-called "microaggressions" so be mindful of them as well.
Should you confront a rude coworker?
A controlled confrontation coming from you serves 2 main purposes.
- You are showing your rude coworker that you are not intimidated by them.
- It is a warning that there will be consequences for them if they continue with their rude ways.
Personal struggles and feelings are no excuse for rude behavior at work. A person should leave all problems, worries, and negativity behind once they get to the office.
We must remain professional no matter what for the sake of the people that we work with.
So don’t feel bad about putting any rude coworkers in their place. Remember that you are doing it not just for yourself but for the sake of everyone else who has to cope with rude and disrespectful treatment.
If a coworker is being rude to you on a regular basis, this could be a sign that they are jealous of you.
How to deal with rude coworkers
Multiple studies and research have shown that incivility at work may have highly damaging consequences. There is a study carried out by management professor Amir Erez from the University of Florida-Gainesville on the hidden toll of facing rude behavior at work.
In conclusion, the study proves that rudeness at work leads to lower productivity levels, frequent loss of employees, and hindered customer experience and team collaboration.
That makes answering how to deal with mean coworkers so crucial. Here are my recommended six ways to approach such situations:
1. Strive for emotional distance
The first thing you should try is to emotionally distance yourself from your rude coworker. Do not give them the satisfaction of seeing you down!
Above all, do not take their rudeness personally.
More often than not, it will have nothing to do with you. It is, in fact, your colleague who is unable to find healthy ways of dealing with their own stress and anxiety.
Therefore, they resort to the only thing they know – taking it out on others. This is textbook bully behavior.
2. Stay calm and composed when responding to rude behavior
It's essential to learn how to stay calm with rude coworkers. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and try not to let their actions trigger an emotional response.
3. Keep communication professional and respectful at all times
When figuring out how to communicate with rude coworkers, it's important to always be the bigger person. This means maintaining a respectful tone and not stooping to their level.
4. Set boundaries and be assertive in expressing your needs
To deal with condescending coworkers, it's crucial to establish your limits. Let them know, politely but firmly, when their behavior is unacceptable.
5. Provide constructive feedback when discussing their behavior
When learning how to handle a disrespectful coworker, it's important to give feedback that focuses on specific behaviors and offers suggestions for improvement.
6. Focus on the problem, not the person, to avoid personal attacks
Addressing coworker rude behavior is easier when you concentrate on the issue at hand, rather than making it about the individual.
7. Cultivate a positive work environment by setting a good example
Be the change you want to see in your workplace. This means being kind, supportive, and respectful, which can inspire others to follow suit.
8. Focus on your work and try not to let their behavior affect your productivity
When figuring out how to deal with disrespectful coworkers, remind yourself that your main goal is to get your work done. Don't let their negativity distract you from your tasks.
9. Consider discussing the issue with a mentor or trusted advisor for guidance
If you're struggling with how to avoid rude coworkers or need advice, reach out to someone who has more experience or wisdom to offer guidance and support.
10. Practice self-care to help manage your stress and maintain your well-being
Dealing with rude condescending coworkers can take a toll on your mental health. Make sure to prioritize self-care activities like exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones to recharge.
11. Have a serious talk with your rude colleague
It may be easier to ignore a rude coworker with whom you have close interactions every once in a while, but that hardly applies when you have to deal with this person daily.
The next thing you can try is to talk with your rude colleague one on one. Keep your cool and remain professional.
Be the bigger person, if you will. In many cases, when directly confronted, your rude colleagues will improve their ways of communicating with you.
12. Keep note of rude behavior accidents
Sadly, there are situations that you will not be able to resolve by directly approaching an individual.
Some people are not interested in communicating with you and changing their behavior. If this is the case, you should move on to the next step of the process.
Keep notes of your interactions with the mean coworker. Gather as many details and evidence of their rude demeanor as possible. This will be extremely helpful for the next two steps of the process.
13. Talk with your direct manager
If nothing else has worked, you should report your rude coworker to your direct manager, similar to how you deal with toxic coworkers.
Provide all evidence and examples you have of instances in which this person has been disrespectful and mean.
Assure them that you have tried to deal with the issue on your own but were unsuccessful. Let your supervisor know that these interactions affect your work negatively and create unnecessary stress in the office.
A true leader will find a way to de-escalate the situation and get things back on track.
14. Talk with HR
Hopefully, you will not have to get to the next step of the process of dealing with rude coworkers – a talk with an HR rep. In some instances, however, this is unavoidable.
Imagine that your direct manager is little interested in resolving the situation at hand (too bad for them), or it is your direct manager that is being rude.
Both cases are far from ideal. They make things all the more complex and stressful. Do not fall into desperation. Talking with an HR representative might be what you need to leave this drama behind.
Calmly explain the situation and ask them for assistance. After all, it is their responsibility to create a safe and pleasant work environment for you.
15. Seek better work alternatives
This is the very last step of dealing with rude coworkers. If nothing else has worked, you should consider if maybe it is time to explore other job alternatives.
In my personal experience, I have come across companies simply not interested in providing adequate work conditions.
It is safe to say that such companies are neither worth your time nor your mental health and inner peace. If this is the case, you should review other employment opportunities.
Many companies would be happy to have you as part of their staff. Here are a few tips and tricks on quitting a toxic job.
How to work with rude coworkers
Yes, having to work with your rude colleague on a daily basis is not optimal, to say the least. No one likes bullies, especially now that you are no longer in high school.
Keep in mind that their behavior is hardly related to you. This is about who they are and not about what you did.
So, how to cope with rude coworkers? Well, the best approach is to continue working with them and remain as polite as possible. In some cases, you will be able to deal with their rudeness by yourself – whether by ignoring them or confronting them.
In other cases, you may request assistance from your supervisor or HR department.
How to deal with bossy rude coworkers
All six steps we discussed so far can potentially work when dealing with bossy rude coworkers. Remain calm, assess the situation at hand, and decide which approach may work best under the given circumstances.
One might ask what is worse than a rude coworker. The answer is BOSSY rude coworker. Not only are they impolite and flat-out mean, but they are also trying to boss you around.
You should professionally and respectfully explain to this person that you are perfectly able to complete your work-related tasks without any assistance from them.
Add that you would appreciate it if they refrain from interfering. In addition, try to ignore their behavior as much as possible.
At the end of the day, you are very well aware that they are not your boss. They will have to get the idea sooner or later. You can take a look at our complete guide on how to deal with a micromanager at work.
What to say to a rude coworker
So how to respond to a rude coworker? Well, you must be firm and straightforward. Do not get aggressive, but also do not let your guard down!
Stand your ground and explain as politely as possible that you do not appreciate their rude demeanor and that whatever they are doing is not appropriate for work relations.
Most importantly, assert that you would like them to stop acting this way for the sake of both your and their productivity.
Here is an example of things that you can say to a rude coworker.
“Hey Chad, listen, I don’t appreciate the way you talk to me/treat me, so I am asking you to stop. You’ve been quite rude and disrespectful towards me for no reason at all.
I am saying this to you only once. Please stop. If you continue to act like this, I’m going to have to take further action. Is that clear?”
If a coworker or your boss is frequently yelling at you, this could be considered harassment and you should take action to protect yourself.
How to talk to a supervisor about a rude coworker
Speaking with a supervisor or manager about a rude coworker may understandably be a very nerve-racking experience. You do not wish to sound like a child complaining or annoy a superior staff member with mundane problems. Now, forget all about these concerns!
You have all the right in the world to stand up and defend yourself. Once you describe the issue and provide any evidence you have gathered, your supervisor will have to take the necessary actions to redeem the situation.
After all, your problems at work are THEIR problems as well.
My experience dealing with a rude coworker
As a project manager in an international tech company, I've had my fair share of interesting experiences in the office. One that particularly stands out is when I had to deal with a rude coworker.
So let me share the story with you and how I addressed the issue, using some of the strategies from this article.
The coworker in question was a talented developer, but he often displayed disrespectful behavior toward his colleagues. His inappropriate comments and offensive language created an uncomfortable work environment for the team.
But one day, during a team meeting, his rudeness escalated, and I knew it was time to confront the situation.
After the meeting, I took him aside for a private conversation. Drawing from my background in conflict resolution and communication strategies,
I calmly explained that his behavior was unacceptable in our professional environment. I mentioned specific instances of his unprofessional behavior and the negative impact it had on the team.
In order to maintain a positive work environment, I emphasized the importance of treating everyone with respect and civility. I encouraged him to consider how his actions affected the team's dynamics and overall productivity.
To my surprise, he seemed unaware of the extent to which his rudeness was affecting others.
By highlighting the issue, I gave him the opportunity to reflect on his behavior and the need for change. We also discussed some assertiveness skills and setting boundaries to ensure better workplace relationships in the future.
Over the following weeks, I noticed a significant improvement in his conduct. He started interacting more respectfully with his colleagues, and the team's overall atmosphere became more collaborative and positive.
In the end, addressing the rude coworker directly and constructively allowed us to move forward and maintain a healthy work environment.
Looking back, I'm glad I took the initiative to discuss the issue with my coworker. By doing so, I not only helped him understand the impact of his behavior but also contributed to building a more inclusive and respectful workplace for everyone.
Frequently asked questions about dealing with rude coworkers
Should I confront a rude coworker directly or involve a supervisor?
It's usually a good idea to try addressing the issue directly with your coworker first, as they might not be aware of the impact their behavior has on others. Approach them calmly and professionally, expressing your concerns and seeking a resolution. If the rude behavior persists or escalates, then it's appropriate to involve a supervisor for further assistance.
How can I prevent rude behavior from affecting my work performance?
To prevent rude behavior from affecting your work performance, try focusing on your tasks and maintaining a professional attitude. Don't let negative interactions consume your energy or distract you from your responsibilities. If necessary, consider finding healthy ways to cope with stress, such as taking breaks, practicing mindfulness, or seeking support from colleagues or friends.
When should I involve HR in dealing with a rude coworker?
Involving HR in dealing with a rude coworker is a step to consider when other approaches, such as addressing the issue directly with the coworker or involving a supervisor, have not resolved the problem. If the rude behavior constitutes harassment or discrimination, or if it's seriously affecting the work environment, it's essential to involve HR to ensure a proper resolution and protect your rights as an employee.
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