Dealing with unacceptable behavior and rudeness in the workplace can be very stressful. Spending 40 hours or more per week in a particular place, only to be met with rudeness and toxicity, can be very demotivating and lead to deteriorating mental health.
Unfortunately, some employees in an organization feel very entitled and engage in rude behavior. Their rudeness may be directed toward one of their coworkers, or they might be rude to everyone except their employers.
If the bosses are not much aware of what goes on within the employee circle, they might be unable to prevent the situation. Such rude employees often put on a polite demeanor when they face their superiors but behave quite differently with their colleagues.
The coworkers, on the other hand, in an effort to avoid workplace conflict, may not complain about that particular individual. However, not doing anything about it can enable their behavior and make the situation difficult for everyone else.
Hence, dealing with rude coworkers is an essential skill that will help you combat unpleasant situations. It will also prevent workers from suffering and ensure everyone gets along well, at least professionally.
Upholding workplace culture and maintaining workplace etiquette is everyone’s responsibility, so it is important how to deal with rude coworkers.
Forms of Unacceptable Behavior in a Workplace
You encounter various forms of unacceptable behavior in the workplace, but it could be a while before you recognize a pattern. It is alright if someone is having a bad day, as that happens to everyone. So there could be occasional outbursts that one unwittingly goes through.
However, if a person is constantly engaging in rude behavior, you must consider what you can do.
If your coworker engages in one or more of these behaviors, you can say they are rude.
- Talk behind the back about other coworkers.
- Do not acknowledge one or a couple of coworkers but is partial towards some others.
- Trying to segregate a coworker by constantly spreading malicious rumors in the workplace about them.
- Trying to show they are better than anyone else and speaking condescendingly to others.
- Using abusive language towards coworkers or making racist or communal comments.
- Being physically aggressive by displaying strength in some form.
- Dismisses the opinion of some colleagues continuously or speaks down to them.
- Uses offensive gestures or crude language or makes inappropriate jokes at the expense of others.
- Constantly takes credit for someone else’s hard work.
- Interrupts someone continuously while trying to express something and superimpose their own opinion.
- Always providing negative feedback or criticizing a coworker, implying they could have done it better.
- Misuses office equipment or leaves the place dirty and leaves others to clean up the mess.
- Does not follow company policies or workplace etiquette and is derisive of those who do.
Is it Right to Confront a Rude Coworker?
Many employees do not confront their rude coworkers because they want to maintain the workplace. They also believe that it is temporary and that, eventually, they will become a part of the team.
However, a rude person will continue misbehaving, and not confronting them by taking the proper steps would only enable that behavior. Here is why you should confront your rude coworker.
1. Standing Up for Yourself
If you don’t stand up for yourself, nobody else will. Everyone is busy advancing their careers, and while you may garner some support and sympathy from your other, more considerate coworkers, they will not be able to help beyond a point.
Hence, if one of your colleagues is constantly berating you or being rude, you must take a stand.
Or else it will slowly cause a dent in your self-esteem. Moreover, your other coworkers might also start having a poor impression of you. You have to make the rude coworker realize they cannot disrespect you.
2. Keep Them in Check
If you do not say anything to your coworker about how they treat you or others, you are giving them the license to continue with their bad behavior.
When you talk to them about their unacceptable behavior, they get the message that others are not satisfied with them and there are consequences to their actions. It will keep them in check, and they might try to control their actions.
3. Prevent Toxicity
Standing up to your rude coworker will go a long way in preventing workplace toxicity.
Bad behavior often permeates, and when one person displays passive aggressiveness or rudeness, it could also bring out rudeness in others. They feel that if one person can get away with it, they can too.
Or, some people simply stop caring about hurting others or become more ruthless while competing. Hence, nipping such behavior in the bud goes a long way in preventing a toxic workplace ambiance.
4. Being a Role Model
When you stand up against rude people, you unwittingly become a role model for others. Not only that boosts your self-confidence, but you also garner support from others who might not have yet had the confidence to confront the rude coworker themselves.
It is also an excellent opportunity to hone your leadership skills, and you can be sure that your colleagues and juniors will look up to you for taking the stand.
What Can You Say to a Rude Coworker?
While dealing with a rude coworker, you have to remain mindful that you cannot be rude to them yourself. You cannot use disrespectful words assuming that you are giving them a taste of their medicine.
Yes, it is possible that you will be frustrated and even angry for being spoken to rudely, but you need to remain calm and be a better and bigger person. Or else, if you engage in similar rudeness, there would be no difference between you and the person you are confronting.
Do not use abusive or aggressive language or display any rude gestures. Instead, ask them if you can speak to them and find out why. If you feel that they are entitled, then you tell them to take care of how they say and behave with others in a professional and formal way.
6 Ways to Deal With a Rude Coworker
You may sometimes doubt yourself and feel you are overreacting to the situation. However, learn to trust your instincts; if you think someone is deliberately disrespectful, here are some ways to deal with it.
1. Talk to Your Other Colleagues
If you notice one of your coworkers misbehaving, then speak to your other colleagues about whether they have seen something similar. Be careful about who you talk to, as you don’t want to come across as overreacting.
However, if there is someone you can trust, try to discuss whether they have found similar signs and patterns in your rude coworker like the ones you noticed.
2. Talk to the Coworker Directly
One of the best ways to deal with a rude coworker is to talk to them directly. You do not have to do it in front of others; you can ask them beforehand if you could speak to them. Sometimes, people need to be made aware that they are unwittingly hurting others through their behavior.
Hence, if you ask them the reason for their behavior and inform them that others are getting hurt because of it, they might mend their ways and even apologize for it. Hence, before taking any step like complaining to HR, try talking to the person first.
3. Be Objective About the Situation
If your coworker is being rude, look at the scenario objectively, and it is essential not to take it personally.
Rude people are rude to everyone, irrespective of who they are. So do not think something is wrong with you for attracting such behavior. You might even believe you have done something wrong, which is why the coworker is unpleasant. That will only erode your self-confidence further.
If someone is rude to you, it is because they are overstepping their boundaries, and remembering that will help you confront them when the time comes.
4. Reduce Your Interactions
You might not be able to avoid your coworker all the time, but you must reduce your interaction with them as much as possible. Do not speak to them beyond your work demands, and keep social interactions at a minimum.
Giving them the silent treatment is one of the best ways to convey that you are displeased with how they treat you or any other coworker in the office. If others follow your example, the coworker will be bound to mend their ways.
5. Document All the Rude Behavior
If your rude coworker keeps engaging in disrespectful behavior, start documenting their actions. Make a note of all the instances when they behaved rudely with someone and how it affected the quality of work or the individual’s mental health.
Your rude coworker could be misbehaving with you or anyone else, and when the time comes to take action against them, documenting the instances will surely help.
6. Work on Your Mental Health
In all the turmoil, you need to take special care of your mental health.
You are probably under a lot of stress from work and trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This added anxiety about dealing with a rude coworker is another problem you have to deal with.
Try to be patient and practice yoga and meditation to keep stress at bay. And ignore whatever negative comments the rude coworker might have made about you.
How to Deal With a Rude Female Coworker?
If you are a female trying to deal with a rude female coworker, you have to be careful not to come across as vindictive.
Your gender should not get in the way; as women, you should try to lift each other. If there is an underlying cause for your coworker’s rudeness, like frustration or family problems, they might be willing to open up to you and redeem their mistakes.
You should speak with caution if you are a man approaching a female coworker about her rude behavior. Your gender should not be a reason to make her feel intimidated.
You could also confide in another female coworker and ask her to speak on your behalf. If you are approaching her, be calm and polite and try to find out why she has a condescending attitude towards you.
How to Deal With a Rude Male Coworker?
If you are a man trying to deal with another male coworker who has been rude towards you, do so with your professional demeanor intact.
Arguments between men can quickly become heated, and you do not want to get into a brawl with your colleague. Try to keep yourself calm and if the coworker is constantly being rude to you even when you try to speak to them, just walk away and inform HR.
On the other hand, if you are a female trying to speak to a rude male coworker, always make sure there is some witness in the background. This will prevent the coworker from suddenly becoming aggressive or engaging in inappropriate behavior when you approach them. Be calm and confident; once your coworker finds that he cannot intimidate you, he will walk away.
How to Speak to a Superior About a Rude Coworker?
If someone from the team constantly misbehaves, you must speak to your superior about it. Not doing so will only create discord in the workplace and affect work. However, ask your manager for advice rather than complaining to them at the very beginning.
Your boss will appreciate that you are trying to handle the situation independently rather than being aggressive or vengeful. Your boss will tell you whether to file a formal complaint with HR or handle your coworker in another way.
How to Continue Working With a Rude Coworker?
Unless the management takes any step against the coworker, there is little that you can do. You have to continue working with them, and they will get in your way occasionally.
However, try to focus on your work and not let negativity affect your self-esteem. There will be consequences for your coworker for all their rudeness, and you must try to garner support from your trusted colleagues who are close. Their support will bring positivity, and one rude person will not be able to affect you.
When you are in a toxic workplace, it is a given that you should try to get out of there.
However, if your workplace is excellent and there are kind and professional people with whom you love working, then one person should not be the reason for your exit.
If you have a fulfilling job that can help you advance your career, then it is not prudent to leave the workplace just because somebody decides to misbehave.
Instead, dealing with them and standing up to them is the best thing you can do, and you will eventually gain respect in the eyes of your other coworkers.