Dealing with a Bossy Coworker

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?

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” in the moment.

Read the full Business News Daily article so you can stand up to a bossy coworker – and then move on.

Photo credits: Markus Spiske

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Selena Rezvani

Selena Rezvani is a recognized consultant, speaker and author on women and leadership.  A seasoned human capital consultant, Selena uses workplace culture assessments to help corporate clients be more inclusive and welcoming to women.  She’s also the author of two leadership books targeted at professional women – Pushback: How Smart Women Ask—and Stand Up—for What They Want (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and The Next Generation of Women Leaders (Praeger, 2009). Selena has been featured in the LA Times, Oprah.com, Todayshow.com, Forbes, and wrote an award-winning column on women for The Washington Post.

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