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How to Deal With Overbearing Colleagues

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The dictionary defines overbearing as an overpowering, harsh and haughtily arrogant person. It is a demeanor that a relative, friend or co-worker can have and it’s a difficult attitude to handle respectfully in the office. An overbearing colleague is one who always thinks of himself as in charge of others in the office or who communicates through words and actions that his opinion is not only the right and best one, but the only one that matters. An overbearing attitude can cause a tense working environment but there are a few things you can do to try to loosen things up and create a positive atmosphere.

Write down instances where an overbearing colleague has micro-managed you, told you how to do a job that you have demonstrated competency in already or demeaned you with belittling remarks. Be specific and accurate. Think back over the past few weeks or month and write down dates and occurrences of the overbearing behavior. Keep a journal for a month of such behavior, writing down your observations at the end of each work day. View the journal as a way to release your daily frustration without blowing up or reacting emotionally to the overbearing colleague.

Plan out and practice delivering a message to your overbearing colleague. Select a time of day and place where you can speak privately with the colleague in a non-threatening environment such as a coffee shop or empty break room.

Ask the colleague if you can speak with him briefly about a problem you’re having. Gently tell the person when the two of you are alone that your problem is with his behavior. Tell him that you’ve experienced him to be rude, demeaning, demanding, overbearing and arrogant on a number of occasions recently. Assume that he does not realize he’s been doing this and give him the benefit of the doubt that your conversation may have some positive effect on him choosing to change his behavior.

Bring your journal with you and have it ready to refer to if the person doesn’t believe you or asks for a specific example. Give the person an opportunity to respond and listen respectfully to whatever he may have to say to you in advance.

Give your colleague an opportunity to correct his behavior on his own before bringing your boss, or his boss, into the situation. Resist the temptation to gossip or complain about your colleague to your other co-workers as this could end up reflecting negatively on you in the future.