Rude and Bossy Coworker

Question:

A co-worker I have is rude and likes to call me out in front of everyone if I make a mistake. I have only been here for 2 months but she has been here for 6 months and still makes the same mistakes, but acts like she knows everything. She gives me attitude whenever I ask her a question. She also likes to order me around.She is an equal to me and she is not my boss.

I don’t want to complain to our manager and sound petty but she is making it very difficult to work with and it’s really bothering me. But, I also need my job.

Signed,

Frustrated


Answer:

Dear Frustrated:

What you do about this depends upon the nature of your work situation and how much support you think you would receive if you confront the problem.

In a perfect situation you should be able to say, in a civil way, “Brenda, you sound like you’re mad at me about something. Are you?” The first time you do that is the warning that you notice her rudeness to you and don’t like it. Maybe she will say something that will help you identify what the problem is, and you can make some changes or at least adjust a bit. It may be that she has some sincere reasons for being angry at you a lot of the time. That needs to get out in the open. If she has no valid reason, at least both of you will know that she is just being unpleasant as part of her nature! If she continues doing it another time, or if she comes back with an unpleasant response, you could say, “I don’t know why you’re angry, but I want you to stop being rude to me. PLEASE. Let’s talk about the problem, but let’s agree to not make work miserable this way.”

If that still doesn’t help–and I doubt that it will!–you can at least have something to report to your manager if you want to do that, and it will show that you made an effort to make things better.

If you don’t want to confront her rudeness, at least you can ensure that you don’t respond to it in a way that lets her know she is getting to you. I think of people like that as like trolls on forums on the web. They know they are upsetting you and enjoy seeing you respond.

I don’t like faking that you don’t notice, because you DO notice. But maybe for a few days you could try not responding to it with rolled eyes or a curt tone yourself, and see if things calm down a bit. (Or whatever else it is you do when she is unpleasant.) In the meantime, remember what you told us….she is not your boss. When she criticizes you just tell her that your manager seems happy with your work so you’re not worried about a mistake now and then and you’re working to improve. Then, put your focus back on work and tune her out as much as possible.

Keep this in mind: With all that has happened, you two are never going to be friends. Or at least, I don’t think it is very likely. So, if you are both going to work there you will need to find a way to work around her without being unhappy or upset all the time–or to stop the behavior she is doing that is making you upset.

One thing that is crucial, is that you have a good, strong relationship with your manager. If you have that, a coworker can’t harm you behind your back, and is more likely to be courteous to your face. I suggest you talk to your manager about YOUR work, not the actions of the coworker. Ask your manager if there is anything you need to do to improve, at this point. You should be sincere and honest about your desire to not make mistakes and to be the best employee there.

You can bet if your manager has confidence in you and believes you want to do a good job, you will be valued highly. And if he or she sees that you are not attacking others, you will also gain a lot from that. Make it your focus to be a good employee and learn the job well–no matter who you have to ask for advice. Link with other workers who do a good job, but don’t become part of a clique. Look your best and be your best. You’ll find that the snips and picks of others don’t bother you as much. And, when they do, you will have more confidence about confronting them.

I don’t think you should just tolerate it forever. But, I think you should establish a strong foundation of support with other employees and your manager, along with doing excellent work, before you make a formal complaint. And before that, you should try to make it better yourself, by asking her what is the matter.

Best wishes as you work through this situation, which I know can be very frustrating. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.