How to Deal With a Coworker That Insults You at Work

How to Deal With a Coworker That Insults You at Work
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It may be a surprise to learn that some workers will not show up if they are called in sick. They could resort to retaliation if they feel threatened by you. You should say something if you’re frustrated and want to let it out.

Even if you hate your job, you shouldn’t let your distaste for it affect how well you do it. The ability to articulate one’s thoughts and opinions is a trait that can only benefit one’s career.

Here are some suggestions for how to handle a rude or offensive coworker in the workplace:

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1. Keep the big picture in mind.

When someone says something mean about you at work, take a moment to think about what it means and what impact it might have on your career. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of being insulted, but try to step back and focus on the bigger picture.

For example, if someone calls you stupid behind your back, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re silly. It probably means that person dislikes you and wants to hurt your feelings. But there’s no need to let it get to you.

Instead, ask yourself why this person would make such an insulting comment. Maybe they have a problem with authority or feel jealous of you because you’re more successful than them.

Whatever the reason is, don’t let it bother you. Focus instead on what you can control — your performance and attitude.

2. Don’t take it personally.

If you get upset over coworkers’ insults, it’s time to stop taking things so seriously. Try to remember that people aren’t always trying to be insulting. Sometimes, their comments are meant to point out a flaw in your behavior.

In other words, assume that only some insult is intentional. Instead, consider whether you’re doing anything that could provoke someone to act like this. If you think you are, then change your approach. For example, if you constantly talk too much during meetings, try sitting back and listening more carefully.

You’ll also need to realize that sometimes people who are rude or offensive are themselves victims of bad bosses or difficult circumstances. So while you may never understand their actions, you can still move past them and keep cool.

3. Try not to go on the offensive.

Your first instinct when someone insults you is usually to lash back. This isn’t going to help anyone, especially if you end up making matters worse.

Instead, think about how you’d react if someone said something similar to you. Would you defend yourself? Or would you calmly explain why you didn’t deserve to be treated that way?

The latter option is often better, as it shows respect for others and helps diffuse potentially volatile situations.

Finally, wait to respond. Think about how you’d want to be treated if someone said something negative about you. Then, use those same principles to deal with your coworker.

This tactic will only sometimes work, but it does give you another perspective on how you want to be treated.

4. React only when necessary.

Sometimes, you will feel like responding to a coworker who has insulted you, even though you know that it’s not appropriate. In these cases, you should only speak up if you see a legitimate threat to yourself or others.

For example, suppose you notice one of your coworkers talking negatively about you behind your back. If you suspect they are planning to do something dangerous, you have the right to step in and protect yourself.

However, if you believe your coworker is rude, you should only say something if you see a direct threat to you or your job.

Remember: Even if you feel justified in lashing out, you could easily make matters worse by saying something you later regret. So if you want to get back at someone, wait until you’ve cooled off before speaking up.

5. Don’t confront your insulter via email.

An email is an excellent tool for communicating with colleagues quickly and efficiently. But it doesn’t necessarily make sense to send an angry email to someone who has insulted you at work.

After all, you might accidentally reveal sensitive information that could compromise your career. And since you probably don’t want to risk losing your job, avoiding confrontation is best.

Instead, consider sending a short note to your coworker apologizing for what they did. Explain that you aren’t sure how things got so out of control, but you hope they can work together again.

If your coworker responds positively, you can continue building a positive relationship. However, if they respond negatively, there’s nothing wrong with moving on from the situation.

It’s important to remember that no matter how much you dislike someone, you still have to treat them professionally. The same goes for coworkers who insult you. Refrain from letting their behavior affect your ability to perform your job.

Instead, try to put aside your feelings and focus on doing your best work. That way, you’ll be able to avoid future conflicts.

6. Realize that not everyone is going to like you.

You may find that you’re surrounded by people who are constantly insulting you. It’s easy to feel hurt and angry, especially when you realize you’re getting little appreciation for your hard work.

But remember that not everyone likes you. Some people don’t understand you. Others need to appreciate your talents. Still, others are jealous of your success.

And, most importantly, some people don’t care about you. They’ll never change their attitudes toward you. So why bother trying?

So rather than letting insults keep you down, take advantage of every opportunity to learn from your mistakes. After all, those experiences will help you grow and improve your skills.

You need to accept that not everyone will respect you. Instead, focus on making the most of your strengths and improving your weaknesses. That way, you can become more likable and successful.

7. Seek Feedback.

Although you may know that you’re good at certain tasks, that doesn’t mean that other people agree. Sometimes even your closest friends and family won’t support you.

That’s why seeking feedback from people who know you well is important. For instance, ask your mom, dad, or older brother whether they think you’re talented. Or you should talk to a friend or mentor in your field.

Even though these individuals may not always like you, they can give you honest advice. They’ll likely offer constructive criticism that you can use to improve yourself.

In addition to asking for personal opinions, you should seek professional feedback. Ask your boss or supervisor whether he thinks you’re performing well. Ask him directly how you can improve your performance.

Of course, this approach is only appropriate if you’re confident of upsetting your employer. But if you ask for feedback, ensure you get it in writing. Otherwise, your manager may misinterpret your motives.

8. Filing a Formal Complaint.

If you’ve tried everything else but still haven’t received any positive results, consider filing a formal complaint against your coworker. This option is only available to you if your company has an official policy regarding workplace bullying.

However, before you do this, you’ll first need to determine what type of harassment your coworker is committing. Is he harassing you because he dislikes you personally? Does he have a grudge against you? Or does he dislike your job?

If you believe your coworker is engaging in physical abuse, sexual harassment, or stalking, you may need to report his behavior to the police. On the other hand, if you suspect your coworker is verbally abusive towards you, you should contact HR.

In either case, be prepared to provide evidence of your claims. For example, if you’re accusing someone of verbal abuse, you’ll probably need to show that your coworker has made repeated negative comments about your work.

Finally, if your situation isn’t serious enough to warrant filing a formal complaint, you could try talking with your coworker. Explain to him exactly what you expect from him. Then, see whether he agrees to change his ways.

If not, don’t worry- plenty of options are open!

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9. Talk to Your Supervisor.

You shouldn’t hesitate to go straight to your boss when you encounter a problematic coworker. After all, your boss is ultimately responsible for ensuring that your coworkers behave properly.

So, if you notice that your coworker is treating you unfairly, say something to your boss immediately. Tell him that you’re concerned about how your colleague behaves towards you.

Then, explain to him why you’re worried. For example, you could mention that your coworker has been making negative remarks about your work and criticizing you behind your back.

Next, tell your boss that you’d appreciate help dealing with your coworker. Finally, ask your boss to address the issue immediately.

It’s important to note that you won’t necessarily receive sympathy from your boss. However, he will likely agree to speak with your coworker. You should take advantage of this opportunity to present your concerns.

Afterward, keep a close eye on your coworker. Make sure that he doesn’t continue to harass you. Also, remember to let your boss know if your coworker behaves inappropriately again.

If you cannot resolve the problem, consider going to your HR department. They can investigate your allegations and decide whether or not they find your coworker guilty of abusing you.

If they decide that he did commit misconduct, they’ll usually give you a chance to make a formal complaint.

Remember that it’s up to them to decide how much punishment your coworker deserves. So, don’t get too upset if they choose not to mete out any discipline.

Instead, focus on moving forward with your life. If you want to avoid future problems, make sure that you treat everyone around you fairly.


There are, as we’ve seen, a variety of responses to the problem of a hostile workplace colleague. But be prepared for things to worsen no matter what tactic you employ.

Be mindful that maintaining composure is your best bet. There is no shame in telling a harassing coworker to cease. And if you can change his mind, it would be fantastic!

If you’re unsuccessful in convincing him, you should be able to report him. Because if your employee continues to treat you poorly, the company has the right to terminate him.

This necessitates prompt action on your part. Your employee should be reported before he causes any problems. Instead, seize the initiative as quickly as feasible.

You should remember that there are choices open to you. You could approach the manager in charge. Or you might consult with people in the Human Resources division.

But whatever you do, never give your coworker the upper hand in a discussion. The alternative is that he will become violent.

If you take the steps outlined in this piece, you should be able to establish boundaries with that person and, perhaps, end the conflict.

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