How to Work With Arrogant Co-Workers

It's a rare workplace that doesn't have at least one arrogant employee.

It's a rare workplace that doesn't have at least one arrogant employee.

Philosopher Bertrand Russell didn't pull any punches. He believed that the "fundamental cause of trouble in the world is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” While arrogant people are not always unintelligent, they certainly have the ability to make the workplace a misery for those who must endure know-it-all attitudes and other unpleasantness. You needn't be a victim of arrogant attitudes, however.

Put yourself in the arrogant person's shoes. The person might employ an arrogant attitude to mask insecurity, to cope with fear of losing power or to shore up weakness. Understanding the person's behavior can help you to build compassion for the person, which can help you to cope with her infuriating behavior.

Listen to an arrogant person's words, and dismiss them when necessary. The real difficulty in working with an arrogant person arises if you take their words to heart. Don't take them as seriously as the speaker himself takes them.

Look for something likable about your arrogant coworker, advises Richard Carlson, author of "Don't Get Scrooged: How to Thrive in a World of Obnoxious, Incompetent, Arrogant and Downright Mean-Spirited People." By doing so, you'll subtly reinforce the likable side of their personality.

Work on improving your own self-esteem. If you feel secure in your ability and beliefs, arrogant people have less ability to adversely affect your mood.

Accept that you're not going to like some people. Arrogant people are often more annoying than destructive. The next time your arrogant colleague toots his own horn or claims to have superior knowledge of a subject, simply smile inwardly and take it in stride.

Tip

  • Take an inventory of your own personality. When you do so, you may find that you also have personality weaknesses that might cause others to be insulted or annoyed. Spend time focusing on self-improvement, and your coworker's behavior is likely to upset you less.

Warnings

  • Avoid engaging an arrogant person in an argument. Simply agree to disagree on some issues.
  • Don't engage in power struggles with arrogant people, as they are often invested in "winning" at all costs.
 

References

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

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