Dealing with a bossy coworker

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You might expect the occasional “order” or “command” from your boss. But it’s a whole other thing when it’s your peer who’s doing the bossing around, isn’t?


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Skye Schooley, a writer for Business New Daily explains, “A bossy co-worker is generally someone who dictates the room, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and shares their opinion as fact.

Their behavior may consist of telling you what to do, critiquing you on how to do your job or even monopolizing brainstorm sessions. Dealing with a bossy co-worker is frustrating and sometimes impedes productivity.”

Sound familiar?

If so, rest assured, there are ways you can handle it. I had the chance to weigh in with Schooley to share my own advice on dealing with this kind of colleague:

Don’t go it alone

Decide with your manager on what tasks are superfluous to your role and worthy of passing on. Then contract verbally with your manager that they’ll back you up and provide cover if and when you say “No” to a task. If your boss endorses the boundary you’ve created, you have a much better chance of overcoming pushback from your colleague.

Redirect them

Don’t come across as completely uncooperative or unwilling to pitch in. Neither of these builds your reputation for results. When you offer a “no” to a low-prestige task like taking the meeting minutes, come back with a give – a “yes” – to a higher-caliber one that would give your team an edge, like performing a competitor analysis.

Be prepared

Have a few friendly but firm retorts ready for a bossy colleague. Instead of “That’s not my job,” you can come back with “That’s an interesting project. I’m not sure it’s realistic with my workload though,” “Let me steer you to someone who knows more about that” or “Hmmm, let me talk to [my manager] about it.” At a minimum, train yourself to buy more time and not to give a “yes” at the moment.

This article first appeared on Be Leaderly