Regardless of where you work or how well you like your job, you're likely to have a run in or two with a condescending co-worker. You'll recognize her when you see her. She's the know-it-all; the one who looks down her nose at you as she tells you how to do your job better. In the beginning, you might welcome her input. But after a while, it can get old and bothersome. Depending on the situation, there's a solution that can help you deal with the condescending bossypants at work.
Assess the situation to determine if the co-worker is condescending with everyone or just you. If she talks to everyone like she does to you, then she has a serious problem. If she just talks to you this way and continually tries to tell you how to do your job, she might be jealous of you or resent you personally. To deal with her effectively, it helps to figure out the reason behind her behavior.
Ignore her comments. One of the ways of dealing with a "know-it-all" is to ignore her. When you ignore her or don't pay attention to her advice, she might just decide you're not worth the hassle. Don't let her get the best of you or make you angry, as that can backfire. Instead, briefly thank her for her input with a quick comment, "thanks, I'll consider that," and leave it at that. You can also say, "thank you, but I'm on a deadline, so I don't have the time to chit-chat right now." Either of those comments should put her off for the moment.
Apply ample doses of humor and intelligence. Avoid getting mad at her; instead use your wits when she acts condescendingly. When she tells you for the umpteenth time the proper way to sharpen a pencil, retort with, "A pencil sharpener? What will they think of next?" Sarcastic humor can send a message without resorting to confrontation.
Avoid her. When you see her coming, pick up the phone or bury yourself in your work. At all costs, avoid feeding the monster by asking for her opinion. When you seek input from a person that is convinced they know how to do your job better than you do, you're opening the door to more intrusions. If you approach a know-it-all for knowledge, she might take it as a blank check and continually harass you.
Make a decision when it's appropriate to confront her. If she continuously harangues you about how to do your job, you might need to let her know that her constant input is unwelcome. Let her down easy, say something like, "thank you, but I know that." While you probably don't want to appear as if you are trying to gain a leg up on her, there comes a time when you need to stand your ground. Suggest to her that her time might be better spent focusing on her work instead of the work of others.
- Keep a positive attitude even in the face of annoying co-workers. A positive outlook can ward off the ill effects of annoying co-workers and will keep you happy in your job. Remember that work, like everything else in life, will have its ups and downs.
- Always remain professional when dealing with a co-worker in the workplace. The last thing you want to do is to appear as if you are immature. If she is annoying to others at work, it's likely that she is being counseled on her behavior.
As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.