Six tips for dealing with rude or annoying colleagues

Most of us have encountered at least one extremely annoying or rude colleague during our working lives. That person drains us of our creativity, morale and focus. He or she could even, over time, undermine our emotional well-being, mental and physical health, and personal relationships outside work.


Whatever shape your ‘jerk at work’ comes in – a non-team player, a bully, a control freak or other – it turns out you don’t have to just grin and bear it. According to Christine Porath, a business professor at Georgetown University in Washington DC, there are six things you can do to improve the situation. Watch her presentation on or skip straight to our synopsis below.


  1. Don’t meet rudeness with rudeness

Retaliation just inflames things. Let your wiser, calmer self take control. Ignore the office jerk’s barbed or annoying comments, avoid him/her as much as politely possible and, when there’s no other choice but to interact, be brief, friendly and firm.


  1. Spend time with the colleagues you like

Your positive professional relationships can counterbalance the effects of incivility and give you an emotional pick-me-up. Surround yourself with people who give you positive energy to offset the demoralising effect of your ‘jerk at work’.


  1. Cultivate your own sense of thriving

‘Thriving’ in this context refers to a focus on your well-being in the form of exercise, good sleeping and eating habits, and a healthy work/life balance etc. This will make you more resilient and better able to handle whatever rudeness the day throws at you.


  1. Consider addressing the issue with your tormentor

It could be helpful to have an open, non-confrontational discussion with your tormentor. Focus on the issues, not the individual, and agree on how you can best work together going forwards. Be neutral throughout the discussion. Paraphrase your colleague’s comments to ensure you’ve understood correctly, and to boost the likelihood of a positive outcome.


  1. Confide in a trustworthy senior figure who will take responsibility for resolving the situation. If your coworker has crossed the line of incivility into harassment, bullying or abuse, immediately notify your manager. And, if rudeness is the norm in your workplace, quitting may be your best option.


Porath says that we have a personal moral responsibility to help foster a work culture of civility in the fullest sense of the word. This means regularly demonstrating positive gestures of respect, dignity, courtesy and kindness.


What do you think? Should we add any other tips to the list? For your challenges of a more recruitment-based flavour, please get in touch so we can help you to find you the ideal candidates for all your current vacancies. ABL is the UK’s leading multilingual recruitment agency and our expert team will be delighted to hear from you!