It’s a sad fact, but a lot of workplaces are more like warzones than they are productive, team-orientated, workplaces.
A lot of people have their own agendas and are chasing promotions, after pay rises, taking issue with coworkers, and more just to try and get ahead.
How you manage coworker relationships is going to be crucial to your own success, and more so happiness.
If your life is being made a misery by a female coworker who is overly aggressive, there are a number of things you can do to turn the situation around.
Here are 15 tips to help you handle a hostile female coworker the right way!
15 Tips for Dealing with A Hostile Female Coworker
1. Don’t Take Anything They Do Personally
This is probably the most important thing to remember when dealing with a hostile female coworker or anyone within the working environment.
They might be taking their own issues out on you, or they might simply not like you for no reason at all.
But it’s important to remember that it’s more of a reflection on them and how they’re not able to handle their emotions than it is you.
It’s not personal, even if they make it seem like it is. They don’t know you personally, it’s a result of workplace dynamics.
2. Never React When Emotions Are Running High
This is another key point. When someone is being hostile or aggressive, it’s usually because they’re emotional about something.
The best thing you can do in this situation is to remain calm and not react.
This will help diffuse the situation and make it less likely for things to escalate further.
We’re not able to make the best decisions when we’re emotional, that’s when we’re likely to say or do something we’ll regret.
3. Play Defense, Not the Aggressor
It can be shocking and upsetting to have a coworker acting hostile towards us, especially in front of other coworkers.
While you might be feeling like you need to protect yourself, it’s important not to be aggressive back at them.
This will only make the situation worse and could result in you getting into trouble with your employer.
It’s important to remain professional at all times and remember that this isn’t a personal attack on you.
4. Make a Record of Any Interactions and Incidents
If a female coworker is being hostile towards you, it’s a form of workplace bullying and is not acceptable.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to start making notes of all the incidents and what she said or did towards you.
This will give you a record to refer back to if things escalate further or if you need to speak to your employer about the situation.
It’s also important to keep any emails, text messages, or other communications that might be relevant.
This will help build your case and make it easier for your employer to take action against the coworker.
5. Kindness Is the Best Way to Respond
If someone is being aggressive or hostile towards you, the best way to respond is with kindness.
It’s difficult to do, I understand that.
But it’s important to remember that this person is likely acting out because they’re unhappy themselves.
By being kind and understanding, you might be able to diffuse the situation and even help them feel better and start to get closer to them!
On the other side, if you’re aggressive back at them the situation is only going to escalate and become more explosive.
6. Ask Other Coworkers How They See the Situation
I’m not suggesting you’re misreading how this female coworker is acting towards you, but it does help to ask others how it looks to them.
Other people might see the situation differently and be able to offer some valuable insights.
It can also help you to see if this person is behaving the same way towards other coworkers or if it’s just you.
If it’s just you, then there might be something directed at you going on that you’re able to narrow down and address.
7. Never Engage in Gossiping About Her
This is another important point and one that can either help diffuse or escalate the situation between the two of you.
If you start to gossip about this female coworker with other coworkers, it’s only going to make the situation worse if she finds out.
No one likes to be talked about behind their backs, especially not someone who already clearly has issues.
Gossiping about someone is never a productive or positive thing anyway, so it’s best avoided.
8. Ask Them if You Can Talk About It Like Adults
This is a difficult conversation to have, but it’s worth trying if you can.
What I mean by this is going to the person and asking them if they want to talk about whatever issue it is that’s causing the hostility.
Sometimes people just need to vent and get things off their chests in order to move on from them.
There are no guarantees that it will help, but I think it still sends them a strong message either way that you’re aware of how they’re behaving and willing to talk about it.
It shows them that you’re the bigger person.
It might not hit them for a while, but I think it’ll get to them eventually and they’ll have a moment of realization that they’re being unreasonable.
9. Try and Understand What Is Fueling Their Actions
This is more of a general piece of advice that can be applied to many different situations.
I think it’s important to try and understand what is causing this person to act the way they are.
Are they going through something difficult in their personal life?
Do they have unresolved issues with other coworkers?
Is there something about you they’ve taken offense to?
Are they under a lot of pressure at work?
It doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to do anything about their actions, but it certainly helps to better understand why someone is behaving the way they are.
10. Escalate Things to Your Manager or HR Department
If you’ve tried all of the above and nothing has worked, then it might be time to escalate things to your manager or HR department.
This is obviously a big step, but if this person is making your work life difficult and affecting your ability to do your job then it’s important to take the right steps.
Your employer should be aware of the situation and be able to deal with it accordingly.
11. See If You Can Move Further Away from Her
In some cases, it might be possible for you to move your desk or workstation further away from this person.
If you’re close to them and it’s making you feel uncomfortable, then ask your boss if you can move.
It’s not always possible depending on the layout of the office, but putting some space in between the two of you might make a big difference.
12. Don’t Allow Their Actions to Affect Your Personal Life
This is something that’s easier said than done, but it’s important to try and not let this person’s actions affect your personal life.
The workplace can be a competitive, hostile environment at times, but it’s crucial to your health that you’re able to separate the two.
Don’t let this person ruin your enjoyment of work or make you dread going into the office, either.
If they are affecting you outside of the workplace, it’s important you take action as soon as possible.
13. Identify What’s Triggering Them and Avoid It
This goes hand in hand with trying to understand what’s making her blow up.
If you can identify what it is that’s triggering this person’s hostility, then try and avoid it.
It might be something you’re doing without even realizing it, so it’s important to be aware of your actions and how they might be affecting this person.
This is also something that your coworkers might be able to help you with, especially if they’ve known her longer and seen similar patterns of behavior before.
14. Stand Up To the Workplace Bully
This isn’t always the best advice, so it’s something you’ll need to consider based on your individual circumstances.
But standing up to bullies is always something that’s going to be admired and can give you power.
This doesn’t mean being aggressive back, I stand by what I said earlier about taking the high road and fighting back with kindness.
What it does mean is not just sitting or standing there are putting up with someone being hostile towards you.
You have the right to defend yourself and set boundaries, especially in the workplace.
15. Consider that You Might Have to Get a Different Job
This should be the last resort, especially if you’re happy at your job and love everything else outside of having to deal with this hostile female coworker.
But sometimes it’s just not possible to fix the situation, no matter how much you try.
If this person is making your life miserable and nothing else has worked, then it might be time to start looking for a new job.
It’s not an easy decision to make, but it’s important to do what’s best for you and your mental health.
The most important thing to remember is that you should never put up with someone making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in the workplace.
If you’re being harassed, bullied, or otherwise mistreated, then speak up and take action.
The situation might not be easy to fix, but you deserve to feel respected and valued at your job.
Don’t let anyone take that away from you!
Image credits – Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.