If you have to work with dumb or underskilled coworkers on a daily basis, I know how frustrating it can be.
No matter how bad they are at their jobs, more often than not you’re going to have to make the best of the situation until your manager does something about them.
If you’re in this situation, I can help you deal with dumb coworkers without tearing your hair out or hating your own job!
Here are 15 ways how to deal with dumb coworkers tactfully and professionally:
15 Ways How to Deal With Dumb Coworkers
1. Work on Being Patient – Very Patient
Patience is going to be your best friend when dealing with a dumb coworker that frustrates you to no end.
Keep in mind that they cannot help it if they are not as skilled or knowledgeable as you are and I’m sure they’re not trying to annoy you.
Remind yourself to take deep breaths and count to ten before reacting to their incompetence.
This will prevent any unprofessional outbursts or arguments with your coworker.
Related – 10 signs your coworker is lazy!
2. Try and Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Empathy is a valuable skill to have in any situation, but especially in the workplace.
Try and put yourself in their shoes and think about why they may be struggling with their job tasks.
Maybe they are new to the position, or maybe they just have a different work ethic than you do.
Putting yourself in their position may help you find some understanding and patience for them.
3. Don’t Take Anything They Say or Do Personally
This is a difficult one, as it can be hard not to take their incompetence personally if you’re training or working with them.
But remember that their lack of skills or knowledge has nothing to do with you.
Try not to let their mistakes affect your own work or mood.
Instead, focus on how you can help them improve and excel in their job duties.
4. Don’t Hold Yourself Accountable for Their Actions
Keep in mind that you are not responsible for your dumb coworker’s actions, so don’t feel guilty or blame yourself if they make a mistake.
If they’re part of your team and you’re very team-oriented, I understand you might be the kind of person to share both the successes and failures of the team.
But you can’t blame yourself or take it too hard if a lazy or dumb coworker makes a mistake, that’ll only end up affecting your own mental health and work performance.
5. Don’t Take Your Frustrations out On Them
One of the worst things you can do to a coworker who you consider to be dumb, silly, stupid, or whatever you want to call them is to take out your frustrations on them.
In particular, you should never say or do anything to make them feel incompetent or bad in front of other coworkers.
This will only make them feel worse and create a negative work environment.
Instead, try to find ways to tactfully communicate your frustrations to them in private or with their manager.
6. Draw on Help from Other Coworkers to Lessen the Burden
If you’re finding it difficult working with a particular coworker, one option is to try and draw on help from other coworkers to lessen the burden.
For example, if you’re working on a group project, try and delegate tasks between yourself and the other coworkers who you know will do a good job.
This way, you can work towards completing the project effectively without having to rely too heavily on a coworker who may not be as skilled as yourself.
7. Set Some Boundaries in Place
If your dumb coworker is constantly asking for help or bothering you with their incompetence, it’s important to set some boundaries in place.
Try to politely let them know that you have your own work to focus on and can only offer limited help.
You could also suggest for them to ask their manager or another coworker for help instead.
It’s important to maintain a healthy work-life balance and not let their incompetence affect your own work performance.
8. Practice Breathing Exercises if You Feel It’s Getting Too Much
I’ve had to turn to a few seconds of controlled breathing at work on more occasions than I can remember, and it always works.
If you feel like your dumb coworker is getting too much to handle, try some breathing exercises or take a short break.
This will help calm your frustrations and allow you to approach the situation with a clear, rational mindset.
Learning how to take a quick meditation or breathing break is also something that’ll help you in all areas of your life, so it’s a valuable skill.
Related – Here are reasons why slackers get promoted over you!
9. Don’t Make Them Feel Bad
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your dumb coworker is a person just like you and deserves respect.
Try not to let your frustrations get the best of you and make them feel bad about their skills or intelligence.
Instead, always remain respectful.
Remember, no one is perfect, we all have our own weaknesses and strengths and we’re all capable of turning our fortunes around.
10. Express Your Concerns to Your Boss in A Professional Way
If a dumb coworker’s incompetence is having a negative effect on you and other team members, it’s important to express these concerns to your boss or manager.
I’m sure there is some allowance for a certain level of incompetence in any job, but if it’s causing a major hindrance to team performance, your boss needs to be made aware.
The important thing is that you approach the topic in a professional way as this will make it much more likely that they’ll take your concerns seriously.
Try not to come off as petty or disrespectful, instead focus on the specific details and highlight how their actions are affecting team performance.
11. Try and Find Humor in The Situation
At the end of the day, one way to not to let a dumb coworker ruin your work experience is to find a way to laugh (not at them) about it.
There’s always room for finding humor in any situation, and by finding a way to laugh about it with your coworkers, you’ll be able to alleviate some of the frustration and stress.
Just make sure they never feel like they’re being treated like a joke or being laughed at.
12. Make Sure They’re Getting the Support They Need
As frustrating as it may be, it’s important to remember that your dumb coworker may simply not have the skills or support they need to perform at their best.
They may just need more training or guidance from their manager.
Try to bring this up with your boss in a respectful way, as giving them the support they need will ultimately benefit everyone on the team.
13. Talk to Someone About It Instead of Bottling Up
Talking about things helps, it helps a lot.
I’m talking about the personal frustrations you may be feeling, not the routes you should take to communicate the issues they’re causing with your boss.
Find a friend or family member to vent to, or even seek out a therapist if it’s really affecting your work experience.
Bottling up these frustrations can have a negative impact on your mental health and overall well-being, so make sure you find ways to talk about any frustrations you’re feeling.
14. Be Aware that You (Probably) Can’t Change Them
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that you can’t change someone’s level of intelligence or skills.
You can try to offer guidance or support, and I’m sure you can help them a lot, but ultimately it’s up to them if they want to improve themselves and their performance.
Try not to let the actions of a dumb coworker control your emotions or work experience.
And more so, don’t get hung up on trying to improve their performance. As long as you’re doing your best, that’s all you can do.
Related – Here is how to deal with people who always try to play the victim.
15. Let It Go!
And lastly, just let it go!
Whatever the reason behind a coworker frustrating you is and no matter how much it’s affecting you, you just need to let it go.
We all spend a lot of time at work, if you’re spending most of that time being frustrated at another coworker’s performance, it’s going to get you down.
So take a deep breath, remember that you can’t change them, and focus on your own work performance.
And if it’s really affecting you, take the necessary steps to address it with your boss or find a way to cope with it.
But ultimately, let it go and move on.
Image credits – depositphotos.com/stock-photo-businessmen-working-in-office
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.