How to Deal With a Coworker Who Feels Threatened by You

How to Deal With a Coworker Who Feels Threatened by You
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We now have a major problem on our hands with bullying. Victims of bullying are frequently individuals the bully perceives to be weaker, such as women, children, and members of marginalized groups. They are especially aggressive toward individuals they believe to be physically more vulnerable, especially men.

Remaining cool and asserting oneself are crucial while dealing with a bully. Assertiveness and self-defense are essential tools for coping with bullies. You need to stand up to the bully because they will keep being mean to you if you don’t. Though it may not seem like much now, in the long run, your persistence will pay off, and the bully will back down.

This piece will review several strategies for handling a hostile workplace relationship. We’ll investigate the mental and emotional underpinnings of bullying to understand better what drives such destructive behavior.

Furthermore, we will look at several effective methods to reduce workplace hostility.

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1. Review company policies.

Companies often provide employees with documentation of how to behave appropriately within the office. This includes things like what constitutes harassment, discrimination, and inappropriate language. Your employer may even have information about how to report potential violations of policy.

These documents may also outline your rights within the work environment. For example, some companies require employees to sign nondisclosure agreements.

If you feel uncomfortable discussing something with your supervisor, ask your boss whether there is anything you can say without violating confidentiality rules.

2. Define your experience.

If you feel like a coworker has manipulated you, it’s always good to first define what happened. There could be many reasons why a coworker might try to control you, such as:

  • They want to make themselves look better than you.
  • They want to avoid doing something difficult or unpleasant.
  • They don’t want to do something you’re asking them to do.
  • They want you to think less of yourself.
  • They want attention.
  • They want to annoy you.
  • They’re jealous of you.

This step ensures that you accurately perceive the situation. It also helps you determine whether the other person has malicious intentions or is acting immaturely.

Next, consider the impact of your interactions with this person. Did they get too close? Was their behavior threatening? Were you afraid of them?

Finally, reflect on the emotions you felt during these interactions. Were you angry? Hurt? Frustrated? Confused? These emotions may explain why the other person behaved the way he did.

3. Attempt to resolve the conflict collectively.

As you assess the situation and reflect upon your feelings, take action to resolve the conflict. You could talk about the issue with the other person one on one, ask a friend or family member to mediate, or enlist the help of a professional mediator.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while working toward resolution:

  • Don’t blame yourself or feel guilty. This isn’t your fault.
  • Keep things respectful. Make sure everyone involved knows you’re trying to do what’s best for both parties.
  • Be clear and honest. Use words such as “I,” “me,” and “my.” Avoid blaming others.
  • Take responsibility for your part in the conflict. Own up to your actions.

If you decide to meet with the other person, here are some additional suggestions:

  • Have an open conversation where you can express your feelings without putting someone else down.
  • Try to find common ground. Find out what each party wants from the meeting.
  • Ask questions to clarify what’s going on and why.
  • Listen carefully to the other person’s point of view. This is important so you can understand their perspective.
  • Agree to disagree. If there’s no way around it, agree to disagree.
  • Show empathy. Remember that aggressive people often have deep-seated problems that cause them to lash out.
  • Look for solutions. Think about ways to solve the problem.

4. Determine your response.

When another person makes a direct physical threat against you, it’s important to take immediate action. Your reaction could make a difference in whether the situation escalates into something worse. You don’t want to do anything that might provoke the individual or cause them to become violent.

In addition to protecting yourself, it’s important to consider how you’ll respond to the situation. What are your options? How will you handle the situation? Will you try to defuse the problem or attempt to resolve it?

For example, let’s say someone threatens you verbally. You can choose to ignore the comment or even laugh it off. However, if the threat becomes a physical attack, you might decide to report it to authorities. Or, if the verbal threat continues, you might choose to confront the person about it.

If you’re unsure what to do, ask someone else for advice. There may be someone you trust enough to ask for help. Alternatively, seek out legal counsel.

5. Practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is practicing paying attention to what you are doing, thinking, feeling, sensing, etc., without judgment. You don’t judge yourself for having negative thoughts or feelings; rather, you observe them and learn to accept them as part of life.

The goal of mindfulness is to become more self-aware and recognize patterns that might cause problems down the road.

For example, if you notice yourself getting angry easily, you can begin to think about ways to calm yourself down. Or, if you find yourself constantly worrying about things that haven’t happened yet, you can ask yourself whether there is something else you’d like to worry about more.

6. Lead by example.

Leading by example is one of the most powerful ways to influence people positively. When we see ourselves reflected in someone else, we gain respect for that person and view them differently. This leads us to want to emulate that individual.

When we lead by example, we show our colleagues what behavior looks like. We are demonstrating the attitude we want to see throughout the organization. As leaders, we must set a good example for everyone around us.

7. Make a report.

Your work life may be negatively impacted if the threatening behavior persists and goes unreported. Keeping track of the specific instances of abuse, such as verbal attacks or physical assaults, is one option.

You can start by addressing this issue with your direct supervisor, outlining what happened. Then, you can ask your supervisor for permission to use other colleagues as witnesses. Be sure to document any threats or intimidating language you hear, even if it seems like nothing more than idle talk.

If you have documentation of the incidents, consider providing it to your supervisor as evidence. They may need to see the actual text messages or emails to understand how serious the problem is. Supervisors may sometimes require you to file a report with human resources.

However, depending on the situation or your employer, you may also be able to take matters into your own hands.

For example, suppose the harassing behavior comes from your boss. In that case, you should speak with human resources to help resolve the situation rather than wait for someone else to do something about it.

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8. Contact legal professionals when necessary.

If the harassment or abuse doesn’t stop, you might want to contact a lawyer. Depending on where you live, this could include getting a local employment attorney or law firm. You’ll want to make sure that you document everything that happened, including conversations with supervisors, coworkers, and others.

Keep records of emails, letters, phone calls, and text messages related to the incident. These documents are important because you may need them later if you pursue legal action against someone.


There’s no doubt that workplace bullying takes its toll on employees. It affects their health, productivity, and overall morale.

If you find yourself in a situation where a coworker feels threatened by you, don’t worry – there are ways to deal with it. The best course of action is to try to build a relationship with the person, and if that doesn’t work, involve HR.

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