6 smart steps to deal with rude coworkers

Published on June 4, 2022
6 smart 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 post, 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.

Should you confront a rude coworker?

Should you confront a rude coworker
Confronting your rude coworkers is among the first things you should try. But don’t respond with rudeness yourself. On the contrary, you should face this with professionalism and dignity. Explain that you will no longer tolerate their rude demeanor and ask them to stop treating you with disrespect.

A controlled confrontation coming from you serves 2 main purposes.

  1. You are showing your rude coworker that you are not intimidated by them.
  2. 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.

What to say to a rude coworker

When it comes to rude coworkers, you must be firm and straightforward. Do not get aggressive, and 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 actions to protect yourself.

How to respond to rude coworkers in 6 smart ways

How to respond to rude coworkers in 6 smart ways

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. Psychological distance

The first thing you should try is to emotionally and psychologically distance yourself from your rude coworker. Please 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. Talk with your rude colleague

Psychological distance is not always the answer. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 on 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.

5. 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.

6. Seek better work alternatives

That 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 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.

How to talk to a supervisor about a rude co-worker

When speaking with a supervisor about a rude coworker do not get too emotional – remain professional and calm. Go over the situation in detail and explain that these inappropriate working relations may ultimately hinder the team’s productivity.

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 are THEIR problems as well. This is their job. Also, here we take a closer look at the most common types of difficult coworkers and how to deal with them.

How to work with rude coworkers

The truth is, regardless of how rude a coworker may be, you cannot simply stop working with them. Oftentimes you must continue your interactions regarding your daily tasks and assignments. In such cases, always get straight to the point and avoid unnecessary communication.

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.

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.

Key takeaways on dealing with rude coworkers

  • Confront coworkers who are rude to you or anyone else.
  • Don't let them think that you are somebody they can disrespect without consequences.
  • Talk to them and give them a fair warning.
  • Take the matters to your boss and HR if you don't see any change.
Written by:
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Alex Alexiev
co-founder / office worker
Alex has been an office worker for more than 10 years. He is dedicated to helping other office workers to achieve the perfect life-work balance through well-being, effective communication, and building productive habits.

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