How To Respond To A Rude Coworker The HR Way

AKA how to clap-back at a rude coworker without getting in trouble

So, your coworker is being rude. Again. They are acting like your boss, undermining you, making snide remarks, or just plain ol’ shutting you down. Whatever the case is, I’ve been through it all. 

If you weren’t at work, you would drag that m$%&#@!%^&$ through the street for talking to you like that. But you’re at work, and you need to keep this job but also need to stand up for yourself.

So here’s a list of tried and true phrases you need in your arsenal:

1. “Are you ok?”

Super simple and effective. If someone is being confrontational and using an unprofessional tone, make them aware. I had a coworker scream at me about a misunderstanding and I simply responded with “is everything ok? You seem a bit angry”. Did it work in the moment? No. My coworker continued raging. But after an hour, she came back with her tail between her legs to apologize because she realized I had kept my cool and she didn’t.

2. “I sense your frustration.”

Similar to the above, you are making the person feel heard but also are making them aware that they are showing a bit too much emotion or anger than necessary for the workplace. Most of the time this results in that person taking a step back.

3. “So what I’m hearing is…” 

Always restate a condescending comment. It allows you the space to relay to your coworker how their words are being perceived. 

4. “What would you suggest as a solution?”

Shows you’re a team player, but also puts the ball back in their court. I once had a GVP call me stupid because she didn’t understand the process of how my team did things. So I asked her what her solution would be. Crickets. 

5. “Let’s make an agreement…”

This one is gold. I had a coworker who acted like my boss. She would also make inappropriate “jokes” asking if I was even working or constantly commenting about my appearance. If anything bothered me, I would tell her what she was saying to me and she would brush it off as “jokes”. So I told her right there that I want to believe they are jokes, but they offend me so from now on let’s agree to keep things professional and not joke around anymore. It worked. (I also took it a step further and wrote down our agreements and made her sign it. This woman was really affecting my work by trying to boss me around and tell me how to do my work, and would distract me with her rude comments). 

6. “I appreciate your eagerness, but I wasn’t finished”

Stand. Your. Ground. If you are interrupted, make it known! Finish your statement. No matter how junior you are in the company, you were hired for a reason and your voice is important and deserves to be heard.

7. “Let’s set time today to discuss this.”

You don’t need to address everything in the moment. Allow yourself some time to think about a situation, set time to sit with the rude coworker and talk it out. But do it at a time when it doesn’t interfere with your own schedule.

8. “I would like your help in coming up with a solution.”

This should be said to a boss about a rude coworker. Shows you’re not there to vent, instead you want to solve the issues at hand. (Also gives you the opportunity to let your boss know what you’ve been dealing with).

At the end of the day, people will always be rude, jealous and mean to you. Don’t take it personally. Chances are they’re miserable and take it out at work. As much as you would like to beat their @$% for talking to you like that, just keep your head high and show them how mature you are compared to them. 

Comment below on some of your rude coworker moments and how you handled it!

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