Bossy coworker- 5 effective ways to deal

In a time of structured approach to problem-solving through lists and pie-charts, let us talk about some quirky workplace issues in a conventional rulebook style.

No, I am not talking about the nuances of project management or heavy strategies for closing business deals, but something that most of us have faced or are constantly facing at the workplace.

Like many things that we cannot choose in life, this one ranks quite high on the list- having to put up with a bossy coworker! Does it sound familiar?

On a personal front, it does, to me. Sometimes I have to cope with that despotic, high & mighty, bossy coworker, and at other times, knowingly or unknowingly, I am the one bossing around. Either way, having to deal with that bossy colleague can cause truckloads of trouble and annoyance.

Let’s be honest- when we don’t like our boss, we do not tell. When we don’t like our work- find it redundant and then keep wondering why we are even working, again, we do not tell. And why don’t we?  Well, it helps pay our bills after all. Relatable, isn’t it?

Not making noise in the first two situations might make sense to the pragmatic you; however, there is still a third one looming at large. Yes, a dominant and a bossy coworker! Now that is a challenge. You can neither leave your job nor can you wait for a divine intervention to send you a savior.

Tell me, who would like a colleague who acts like he is the boss; orders around, and even reprimands you if things go haywire? Not surprising, the air gets stressful and nasty at the office.

You cannot ask your boss to play ceasefire and there is no surety that it will stop with his stepping in.  Becoming a cry-baby will not work either.

So, it is best to take matters into your hand and figure out a way to nip it in the bud. Earlier the better.

Here’s looking at five ways to deal with a bossy coworker:

  1. Don’t sit silent

Another word for silence is acceptance. Next time you notice that your bossy co-worker is targeting you with unreasonable orders, use the moment to express your thoughts assertively. Assertive communication is all about vocalizing your thoughts politely and aiming for a win-win situation without being rude. It also calls for offering a solution.

Remember, you are not sending a message that you dislike taking up additional responsibilities. Rather, you are informing why you think your coworker’s approach is unprofessional and not right. Clarify your points. Let your coworker know that they are acting like a boss. Studies show that usually, people do not realize that their actions speak bossy until being told.

  1. Stay calm

You don’t have to be a Buddha when trying to remain calm. Learn to train your mind in a way that it doesn’t react at every instant. Taking things personally will only cause self-harm.

Ironically, all this wisdom is easier preached than practiced. But managing a situation with a calm composure can only stop the relationship with your bossy coworker from blowing up. You don’t want to start a war at the office.

Bossy people are quite adept in playing a victim-party role to incite a reaction from you. So, the safest bet is to remain as calm as virgin mojito.

  1. Communicate in black & white

Verbal communication at the workplace stands true as long as two parties are mutually benefitted. But we all know that peace in paradise is short-lived.

The Bard in one of his sonnets (Sonnet 18) said:

“When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

Now he was immortalizing his young friend through words and saying as long as people live to see, the beauty of his friend remains eternal.

We can take one common idea lingering here that whatever is written is cast in stone.

And if there is a verbal duel, only communicate in writing to save yourself from any future miscommunication, assumption, and wrong expectation-setting.

  1. Remind them who’s the boss

Blame it on amnesia or feigning ignorance,  a bossy coworker usually forgets who the real boss is. They take the responsibility of self-appointing themselves as the boss much to the disregard and annoyance of the rest of the crew.

If you are a new hire to the company, you are at a higher risk of facing the music of a bossy coworker. In their desperate urge to lead, they are unmindful of the hierarchy.

Let them know politely that you do not report to them. If they are planning to give you additional responsibility, they have to inform the supervisor. Ring a bell that you do have a ‘boss’.

  1. Try coffee and connect

Know your colleagues well outside the office. People tend to open up more and bond better in an informal setup.

Going out for a coffee or lunch break or Friday night dinner can work wonders. You will know your coworker more as an individual person rather than a mere office buddy.

You don’t have to become best friends, but it is not a life-threatening idea to connect with coworkers a bit more. A small act of bonding can turn the tables around in your favor.

Dealing with a bossy coworker can sometimes feel like a one-sided battle. Worse, you are fighting it alone. You don’t want to leave your house every morning dreading to enter the office.

So, follow these five practical steps and put an end to all resentment, negativity, and emotional bloodbath. A positive work environment makes life a bit more worthwhile at professional and personal levels.

Happy Bonding!


The writer, Tanika is a freelance copywriter based in Singapore. She writes for digital marketing websites, start-ups, and tech companies. Writer by choice, she is a corporate trainer, educator, and instructional designer by profession. She is apolitical, adores autumn, gulps tea, puts on traveling shoes, socializes, and aims to become an avid reader.

This Post Has 3 Comments

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