How To Handle Rude Coworkers in the Workplace (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 8, 2022 | Published October 18, 2021

Updated August 8, 2022

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Not everyone in a workplace can get along all the time, since people are susceptible to changing moods, conflicting interests and the different pressures to perform on the job. Some coworkers may even be rude when interacting with other employees. Understanding how to deal with rude coworkers can help you build stronger long-term connections and avoid similar problems in the future. In this article, we discuss how to handle rude coworkers, explore the different types of condescending behaviour in the workplace and offer tips for fostering good relationships with your coworkers.


  • How to Deal With Difficult Coworkers (With Examples)

  • How To Deal With Toxic Coworkers (And Why It's Important)

How to handle rude coworkers

Here are 11 steps you can take to handle rude coworkers:

1. Don't take it personally

First and foremost, stay calm, remain professional and don't take anything personally. If you take things personally, you might make less clear, logical judgments and more emotional ones. Remember to stay calm and be optimistic. If you're calm, you can process the issue in a more logical and professional manner to prevent conflict.

2. Talk to your coworker

The easiest approach to deal with a rude coworker is to have a private, courteous chat about the issue. Express your worries about their condescending conduct calmly, explaining how it negatively affects you, while being careful not to be accusatory or too judgmental. People are often unaware that their behaviour or words have offended someone, and addressing it can help them change to be more respectful toward their coworkers. When you talk to your coworker, they may see how uncomfortable their actions make you and try to stop.

Related: 7 Ways To Communicate Effectively (Plus Benefits and Tips)

3. Communicate with other coworkers

If you observe recurring rude behaviour, ask reliable coworkers in private if they have noticed similar condescending actions. Other employees may be able to give insight into the rude conduct, which can help you deal with it more effectively. They may also assist in talking with the rude coworker to adjust their behaviour.

4. Consider the cause of this behaviour

Consider all the events that may have led to the rude behaviour. By recognizing the underlying reason, you may be able to reject the scenario altogether. Considering the situation from your coworker's perspective may also help you determine whether to take action. If you believe a team member may require some assistance, ask them privately.

5. Remove yourself from the situation and observe objectively

One strategy for dealing with rude behaviour is to imagine yourself observing your coworker's behaviour from a different angle. With this detachment, you can process the condescending attitude while staying unaffected by it. This behavioural strategy allows you to stay reasonable rather than being emotionally connected with someone's rude behaviour.

6. Try to limit your interaction with the rude coworker

Another way of dealing with an uncomfortable situation is to distance yourself from it. Limit your encounters with a rude employee whenever possible. You may not be able to avoid an unfriendly coworker entirely, but you can play an active role in choosing how frequently you interact. This can help you keep the workspace professional and reduce the chance of confrontations occurring.

7. Employ your sense of humour to dispel any bad feelings

Try to find something humourous in the circumstance and laugh at it. Sincere smiles and nonthreatening laughter can dispel any tension or awkwardness brought on by rude behaviour. If you can find something to laugh about as coworkers, you can build a stronger connection and prevent similar circumstances in the future.

8. Maintain good body language

Assuming your coworker is attempting to upset you, it's important to stay professional and react as neutrally as possible. Maintaining good body language and non-hostile emotions is essential. It's best to avoid pointing fingers, rolling your eyes, invading the person's personal space and crossing your arms. Instead, maintain a calm and neutral demeanour as much as possible.

Read more: Understanding Nonverbal Communication With Examples of 8 Nonverbal Forms

9. Document repeated rude behaviour

If a coworker is consistently rude and you have little control over how frequently or closely you work together, you may consider maintaining a record of the rude conduct. Doing this fulfills two purposes. First, it can help you disengage so that you don't take it personally. Second, it keeps a record of your job experience in case your coworker's negative behaviour develops to where you need to speak with a supervisor or a human resources representative.

10. Speak to your manager for advice

Speak to your supervisor if you're concerned that a coworker's condescending workplace conduct may lead to a hostile work environment. You can initiate the chat without stating anyone's name. As you express your concerns, your manager or supervisor may recommend strategies for dealing with the coworker and assess whether additional action is necessary.

11. Remain positive

It always helps to remain positive in situations where you need to work with a rude coworker. Consider the perspective of the coworker who displayed the behaviour, taking into account the circumstances of the event. It's possible that they were facing unknown problems or difficulties that led to the incident. By staying positive, you give your coworker the opportunity to evaluate their own behaviour and learn how to correct it.

Related: Professionalism in the Workplace

Types of condescending behaviour in the workplace

Here are some behaviours in the workplace that can come off as condescending or rude:

  • exhibiting poor etiquette in group situations, such as in the break room or during meetings

  • dismissing other coworkers' ideas

  • failing to refill or replace common resources, such as a coffee maker, supply shelf or stapler

  • disrupting the workplace with loud talking or jokes

  • using vulgar words, insulting gestures or dismissive nonverbal replies

  • spreading rumours or attempting to instill negative emotions among coworkers

  • standing over a coworker who is on the phone or on the computer

  • taking credit for others' efforts or ideas in discussions, emails or meetings

  • leaving the copier clogged or other equipment malfunctioning

  • interrupting people who are speaking in informal chat or meetings

  • offering unsolicited unfavourable criticism of corporate decisions, company rules and processes, or the work of others

Tips for fostering a good work relationship

Effective interpersonal work relationships are the foundation of job and career success and fulfillment. Here are tips for fostering good work relationships:

Schedule time to build relationships

It takes time to build strong relationships in the workplace. The everyday demands of your work can make it challenging to communicate with other team members. If you schedule a time to establish relationships, you may find it simpler to connect with and get to know your coworkers. You can schedule time around lunch, the first 10 minutes of your workday or a meeting, or as you leave the workplace. Many organizations provide after-work outings or team events that may be beneficial to establish professional relationships.

Read more: What Is Team Building? (Why It's Important and Tips)

Improve your interpersonal communication skills

Interpersonal communication refers to the capacity to exchange ideas, thoughts and emotions both vocally and non-verbally. Strong interpersonal skills enable you to form meaningful relationships at work. People prefer working with colleagues who have good interpersonal skills since they allow for better interactions and more effective communication.

Related: What Is Interpersonal Communication Skills and How Can You Use It in the Workplace

Try to resolve issues with your coworkers first

Your coworker may prefer to hear about an issue from you first, instead of during a staff meeting or via an email sent to their supervisor. Always start by discussing concerns with those involved. The best way to create strong alliances is for your coworkers to trust you. Treat other employees the way you want them to treat you. There are many benefits you can gain from building strong professional partnerships in the workplace. These benefits may be necessary to advance professionally and develop career goals.

Related: 8 Steps for Conflict Resolution at Work

Maintain your commitments

Work in an organization interconnects. Be sure to meet all deadlines and fulfill your obligations to avoid affecting others' work. Keep your commitments, and be sure to inform all affected workers if you ever cannot for any reason. Give a new due date and make every attempt to meet it.

Share accomplishments and give credit

Most of the time, especially in large organizations, employees work in groups to achieve a goal. When you complete a project, take the time to thank, honour, acknowledge and specify the efforts of those who assisted in your success. Expressing gratitude is a great way to establish good working relationships.

Related: How To Write Thank You Notes to Coworkers

Help other employees grow

Every person in your business has unique abilities, skills and experience. You can benefit the organization tremendously by helping your coworkers develop their strongest skills. Individual employee development improves the organization. Compliment, praise and acknowledge their efforts. Being an employee doesn't mean you can't contribute to creating a positive, inspiring atmosphere for your colleagues. Employees in this atmosphere can grow personally and professionally in pursuit of the organization's goals. They may remember that you helped that happen.

Related: How to Find Opportunities for Growth in the Workplace

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