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How to deal with a coworker who is out to get you

How To Deal With A Coworker Who Is Out To Get You | 6 Easy Tips

Even if you love your job, you’ll jump ship if you’re surrounded by people out to get you! You spend a lot of time at work. Being around positive people who build you up rather than bring you down makes a big difference. Not to mention, it boosts productivity

So, how do you decide when to set sail or stick it out when your co-worker is out to get you? There are few strategies to try before you post that you’re looking for work on LinkedIn. Here are 6 ways of how to deal with a co-worker who is out to get you

  • Find your voice.  


Ask your co-worker why they are so upset. This is a tuff one, but, in the politest way possible, ask if there is something going on with your co-worker. It’s probable that you’re just the punching bag for something go on in their life. Use “I” language, not “you.” For example:  

  • “I am worried that I’ve done something wrong, can you tell me what I’ve done?” 
  • “I find it hard to concentrate because I feel like I’m walking on eggshells around you, is there something going on that you want to talk to me about?”

You might find that your co-worker is completely unaware that you feel the way you do. 

  • Put yourself in their shoes.


The old adage “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” can’t be more true. We really don’t know what others might be going through on any given day or in any given moment. Our background and life experiences shape who we are and how we deal with our environment. You might find your co-worker is not out to get you, but just uses different communication techniques. Understanding where they’re coming from will give you a starting point to figuring out how to work better together. 

  • Recognize when problems occur.

Identify when problems occur – is at the beginning of a new project, after it’s been underway, or just before completion? Once you’ve identified the timing, you will be able to identify ways to handle challenges before they occur. It could be that your co-worker cannot handle the stress of beginning something new. If that’s the case, see if there are ways you can ease that burden and talk to your co-worker. 

  • Be the bigger person. 


Truth be told, this is the hardest thing for me to do – and for most of my clients. We naturally want to fix things and that means telling people what’s what. To be the bigger person means keeping your cool and, maybe, keeping your thoughts to yourself. I am not telling you to shut up and take abuse from a disgruntled co-worker. I’m suggesting that you look at the big picture and decide if now is the right time to speak up. If you allow your co-worker to always get under your skin, you’re fueling that fire. By remaining neutral, or appearing not to care, you’re not feeding their insecurities. Often the bullying will stop. 

  • Maybe it’s you. 


Super hard to hear, I know. Just remember, we’re not perfect. We have our flaws also. Do some self-analysis. Are you pushing buttons? What is your body language saying? Seventy to 93% of all communication is nonverbal. I bet you’ve experienced this when asking for a day off and your boss replies with pursed lips, “Sure, no problem.” But you know there is definitely a problem with your request. The most common signs of nonverbal communication are tone of voice, hand gestures, body language, facial expressions, head movements, and fidgeting. 


Thinking back to a time you thought your co-work was out to get you, what was your body language saying? How as your tone of voice?

  • Involve a third party. 

Involve Human Resources or your supervisor if things don’t improve. There is absolutely no reason you should be someone else’s punching bag, especially at work. If you’ve tried the strategies above and nothing seems to work, talk to one of your managers or to the HR department. See if together you can work out a solution.  

If you’ve tried these methods and looked hard at how you might be contributing to the situation, it might be time to find somewhere else to work. Take time to do some soul-searching. Are you happy in this environment? Is the job worth putting up with the bullying? 

It can be difficult to know when to move on, but oh so rewarding to finally do so. Life is short and we spend A LOT of time at work. Finding a place where the people are supportive will make all the difference. 

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