What is the Best Way to Deal With a Rude Coworker?
You have to expect that there will be some people on your team or in your workplace that rub you the wrong way. It’s not all unicorns and rainbows, right? …especially in an environment where there’s often wide cultural diversity, age ranges and backgrounds. Sometimes, it’s hard to get along and not everyone is calm and tolerant.
So how can you cope and still have fun and be happy at work? Here are some tips to “keeping your cool.”
First of all, don’t take it personally. The behavior of others is usually not about you at all, but all about them. Try to figure out if this is something that occurs all the time, or if this person is just “off” today and is usually pleasant. Maybe he/she is facing a challenge, is stressed, doesn’t feel well… etc.
Ignore it: If the behavior is a “one-off” and isn’t recurring, try to ignore it and move on. Tomorrow will likely be a better day. Take the high road and be understanding. Some people are chronically unhappy and if you can re-frame it in your mind as their problem, it’ll be easier to let it go.
Call him on it: On the other hand, if this behavior happens every day and never gets better, it’s time to call him on it. That means letting him know it’s not OK to speak to you in that tone or behave in a condescending manner. Be calm and ask them to stop. It’s possible he isn’t aware of the way his behavior is affecting you, so let him know.
Be calm and positive: Assuming your co-worker is purposely trying to provoke you, hold your ground and respond calmly. Make it clear you will not tolerate this behavior and walk away. No need to roll your eyes, make faces or speak harshly.
Ask for an explanation of his/her behavior: If someone is consistently speaking in a rude tone and seems irritated, ask if there’s something you can be doing differently. Explain that you understand they appear frustrated and if there’s something you’re missing.
See if this behavior is happening to others: Is this person rude to everyone, or just to you? Do a little brainstorming to see if others have experienced the same behavior. It might help to find out if someone else has been able to come up with a solution.
Keep your distance: If it’s sucking the life out of you just dealing with this person, consider limiting your exposure to him/her, if possible. Don’t interact or get too involved. Eventually, this offender may notice you’re avoiding him/her and realize why.
You have to report it if it’s extreme: If this behavior is actually hostile and affecting your ability to do your job, you have to speak to your manager or HR. Abusive behavior should not be tolerated. It crosses the line.
Rudeness is a form of disrespect. It’s a breach of etiquette and normally-accepted behavior. Rudeness can affect the whole team’s performance. Of course, there may be cultural differences to consider, so educate yourself if you think this may be the case, especially if you’re working abroad or have colleagues from other countries.
However, if the rude behavior stems from a power grab, you have to find a way to manage your reaction to it. If you’ve done all you can to cope and/or have reported the problem to management, you may have to evaluate whether you can remain in this job. Constant stress and negativity can take its toll on your mental and physical health. Your first priority is to your personal well-being.