How to Deal With a Coworker Who Makes You Look Bad

How to Deal With a Coworker Who Makes You Look Bad
Share This Post

What would you do if a coworker undermined your efforts all the time? The question is whether you’d let them off the hook or defend yourself. You could disappoint your coworkers and leave your career if you don’t speak up.

We’ve all been in situations where a coworker has been disrespectful. They may backbite about us, challenge our judgment, and criticize our ideas. They might even try to sabotage our professional lives.

Never give in to someone who is trying to bring you down. Instead, you need to take measures against your detractors. What follows is a discussion of how to handle a work colleague damaging your reputation.

Land More Interviews With A Professional Resume

Get a professional resume review from a certified career expert

1. Take It Seriously.

You should never underestimate the power of gossip. If you’re not careful, a coworker can destroy your reputation with just one comment.

If you know that a coworker is spreading rumors about you, it’s important to address the issue immediately. Take your time with a formal complaint from another employee. This will only make matters worse.

Instead, be proactive. When you notice a coworker talking badly about you, confront them directly. Tell your coworker that they are being unfair. Explain why you think this person is wrong. Ask what evidence they have to support their claims.

Refrain from assuming your coworker admits their mistake. Instead, explain why you feel that way. Be prepared to offer proof. For example, if you suspect a coworker is making false accusations, ask them to provide documentation.

2. Be Direct.

It’s also important to be direct when confronting a coworker. Never use vague language like “you are always…” or “I’m sure you didn’t mean to.”

When you talk to your coworker, keep things simple. Use clear statements like: “I heard that you said I was incompetent” or “I saw you laughing at my expense.”

If you want to get specific, say, “I overheard you telling other people that I am an idiot.” Or, “I saw you laughing as I walked by.”

Avoid using phrases like “always,” “never,” and “every time.” These words are too ambiguous. They leave room for interpretation.

3. Understand the Motivation.

Before you confront a coworker, you must understand why they are doing this. Is there a legitimate reason for the behavior? Or is it simply malicious?

For instance, if a coworker is spreading lies about you because they want to hurt your feelings, you have no grounds for action. However, if a coworker spreads lies about you because he thinks you are incompetent, you may have a case.

In either situation, you must determine whether your coworker is acting out of malice or incompetence. Only then can you decide what to do next.

4. Sit Down With Your Colleague.

Once you’ve determined that your coworker is deliberately undermining your reputation, you need to sit down with them.

This meeting should be brief. You shouldn’t waste any more time than necessary on a matter that doesn’t require further attention.

Tell your coworker that you want to discuss the problem. Then, tell them exactly what you told us earlier. Make sure that you include everything.

Ask your coworker to apologize. If they refuse, remind them that you have documented proof of the incident.

After your conversation, let your coworker know you won’t tolerate such behavior. If they continue spreading negative comments about you, you’ll have to consider taking legal action.

5. Respond to the Problem When It Occurs.

If you’re dealing with a coworker who makes you look bad in front of others, you need to act quickly.

The longer you wait, the harder it will be to correct the situation. Once someone starts gossiping about you, it becomes very difficult to stop them. So, if you see a colleague spreading rumors about you, immediately eliminate it.

You might ask your coworker directly to stop talking negatively about you. Or, you could try to convince your colleague that they are wrong. If all else fails, you could report the Issue to human resources.

However, before doing so, ensure you have solid evidence of wrongdoing. Otherwise, you risk being accused of lying yourself.

6. Mitigate Envy.

Envy is one of the most common causes of workplace problems. It’s also one of the hardest to deal with.

Unfortunately, envy is often triggered when someone sees another person getting ahead. This is especially true when the person making the advancement has worked hard for years without success.

To avoid envy, you must focus on helping those around you succeed. That means encouraging your coworkers to work hard and develop their skills.

It also means not letting jealousy get into your career development. In other words, don’t compare yourself to your colleagues. Instead, focus on how you can help them achieve their goals.

7. Listen To Your Gut.

Sometimes, people just aren’t cut out for certain jobs. They lack the skill set needed to excel at their job.

When this happens, they end up feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. This leads many employees to lash out against their boss or coworkers.

Of course, this is only sometimes the case. Sometimes, people fail to perform well due to poor training or inadequate supervision.

Listening to your gut when you suspect something is wrong is important, regardless of why an employee struggles.

You may need to speak up if your coworker is sabotaging your reputation. However, if you’re unsure whether your suspicions are valid, you should keep quiet.

Instead, you should seek advice from your manager or HR representative. After all, you want to maintain your relationship with your supervisor and company.

8. Don’t Be Too Trusting.

Trust is a two-way street. And, sometimes, trust goes both ways.

For example, if you’re a new hire, you shouldn’t expect too much from your coworkers. On the other hand, you shouldn’t assume that everyone is trustworthy, either.

Some people use their position as a power trip. For instance, they might intentionally sabotage your performance to boost their standing within the organization.

So, if you notice that your coworkers seem to be acting suspiciously, you should investigate further. Don’t let your guard down until you’ve confirmed everything is okay.

In addition, you should never share confidential information with anyone who doesn’t deserve access to such information.

This includes your coworkers. You should only give your coworkers sensitive information after you’ve verified that they won’t misuse it.

This will protect you from potential legal issues. Plus, it’ll ensure that you maintain professional relationships with your coworkers.

9. Do not become angry or harbor grudges.

Angry feelings are rarely productive. So, if you become angry with your coworkers, you need to step back.

After all, holding grudges is bad for your health. Not only does it make you look petty, but it also makes you appear weak. Plus, anger tends to cause you to lose control over your emotions. When this happens, you risk making rash decisions that could hurt your career.

On top of that, anger often causes you to become defensive. This makes it difficult to communicate effectively. As a result, you may start to doubt your abilities. If this happens, then you may begin to question your worth.

However, you don’t have to let these negative thoughts spiral into self-doubt. Instead, you should try to remain calm. You can do this by taking deep breaths and focusing on your breathing. In addition, you should avoid getting distracted by your thoughts.

Finally, you should focus on what you can change rather than dwelling on what you cannot. By doing so, you’ll be able to move forward instead of wallowing in negativity.

10. Record Their Toxic Behaviors.

When you suspect someone at work is trying to undermine your reputation, you should document any instances where you think that person has been dishonest.

This way, you can refer to them later if necessary. For example, you can write down anything that seems fishy about their behavior.

Then, you can discuss these notes with your manager or HR representative once you know more about the situation.

You should consider documenting your concerns if you feel like you’re being treated unfairly. For example, you can keep track of any times when you think your coworker is being unfair. Then, you can bring those concerns up during one of your meetings with your supervisor.

By doing so, you’ll help prevent future problems. After all, if you don’t speak out against unethical behavior, you risk allowing it to continue.

Land More Interviews With A Professional Resume

Get a professional resume review from a certified career expert

11. Raise the Concern with Your Supervisor or HR.

Suppose you believe that your coworkers are undermining your reputation. In that case, you should feel free to raise the issue with your boss or HR representative.

You can explain why you think this way. Then, you can ask your manager or HR representative to address the problem.

As long as you follow the rules set forth by your company’s policies, there’s nothing wrong with raising an issue with your employer. However, you should always be careful not to say too much. In particular, you should never mention specific names or details. Doing so could damage your relationship with your coworkers.

Instead, you should state that you’ve noticed some questionable behaviors. Then, you should leave it up to your manager or HR representative whether they want to investigate further. If you feel your coworkers are treating you unfairly, you should talk to your manager or HR rep.

The best thing you can do is, to be honest. Don’t lie or exaggerate. Instead, admit that you think your coworkers are acting unethically.

If you do this, then you’ll make things easier for yourself. After all, you won’t need to worry about how your coworkers will react. In addition, you’ll also be able to get your issues addressed sooner. This means you’ll be able to stop worrying about your reputation before it gets ruined.


The moral of the story is that you should never put up with disrespectful behavior from employees. If you always do what’s right, no one should care what others think of you. Because let’s face it, you shouldn’t consider your coworkers to be pals. Those coworkers aren’t part of your team in any way. Therefore, you should never tolerate disrespectful behavior.

Even if you don’t click with everyone on the job, it’s beneficial to at least be kind to them. If there’s one thing you want to avoid, it’s having your reputation tarnished. Some options are available if you have to deal with a passive-hostile coworker who is always putting you down.

Keep cool and try not to take whatever they say or do to heart. Write down their actions, so you have proof if things get heated. If the issue persists, you could bring it up with your supervisor or the HR department.

Talk to our professional resume writers if dealing with hostile coworkers prevents you from reaching your full professional potential. We’re here to help you succeed in the face of workplace politics.

Is Your Resume Working?

Get a professional resume review from a certified career expert

Is your resume getting ignored?

Land more interviews and get hired faster with a professional resume written by career experts.


Resume + Cover Letter

$ 199
  • Professionally written resume - By experts that know your industry
  • Formatted for success - Formatting that will get an employer's attention.
  • Keyword optimized - Your resume will be optimized to pass through Applicant Tracking Systems.
  • Collaborate with writer - Work directly with your resume writer for a personalized experience
  • Cover Letter - Employers are 40% more likely to read a resume with a cover letter.

Contact Us

Contact us if you have any questions

Monday - Friday, (9am - 5pm EST)


Priority Support


(786) 474 - 6976