What to Say to a Rude Coworker? (Here Are 10 Tips & Examples)

What to Say to a Rude Coworker

Things can get a little heated in the workplace, to say the least.

But one thing that really annoys me is when someone is rude, whether it’s a one-off or all the time.

It can be difficult not to lower yourself to their level, but you absolutely have to be the bigger person.

Here are examples of what to say to a rude coworker and 10 ways to handle them in a professional manner so they stop being rude to you:

What to Say to A Rude Coworker: 10 Things to Be Assertive But Professional

When someone is rude it’s usually hard to know what to say.

You don’t want to be combative or argumentative as it’ll escalate the issue, you don’t want to get emotional or they’ll feel like they’re ‘winning’, but you do want to stand up for yourself.

Because at the end of the day it’s very similar to a bullying situation.

Just like most bullies, people are typically rude because they are insecure, scared of something, or due to some kind of past trauma.

Exactly what you say really depends on your situation, but some of thing you might want to consider saying to someone who has just been rude to you are:

  • “That wasn’t very kind, what’s wrong?”
  • “You know, you don’t need to talk to me like that and it’s no way to resolve this.”
  • “Could you please not speak to me like that?”
  • “I don’t deserve to be treated like this, if you have an issue I’d rather you’d tell me.”
  • “I’m not going to continue the conversation at the moment if you’re going to talk to me like that.”
  • “Come back when you’re willing to speak respectfully, please.”
  • “Others might put up with you talking to them like this, but I’m not going to.”
  • “You’re out of line speaking to me like that, if you do it again I’ll have to take this higher.”

Related Tips for dealing with loud coworkers and colleagues who keep getting into your business!

10 Tips for Dealing with Rude Coworkers

1. Don’t React when They’re Being Rude to You

The first thing you need to do is remain calm.

This isn’t always easy, but it’s very important.

If you react when they’re being rude then they’ll know that they’ve got to you and that’ll only fuel their fire.

So take a deep breath, count to ten in your head, and walk away if you need to.

Say one of the lines I gave you above if you wish, all of which are perfectly polite but make it clear that you’re not going to put up with rude behavior.

2. Take a Good Look at Why They’re Being Rude

It helps to know why someone is being rude to you, or at least get a better understanding of what’s triggering them.

It’s worth asking yourself:

  • Are they rude to everyone or just you?
  • Do they have a problem with authority figures?
  • Do they have a history of bullying?
  • Are they going through something difficult in their personal life?
  • Does something you say or do set them off?

Answering these questions can help you better deal with the situation.

None of these things makes their behavior any more acceptable, they should be able to be professional enough not to be rude in the workplace.

But it might help you avoid or limit their rudeness towards you or at the very least it feels better to know what’s fueling them.

3. Get Some Validation from Unbiased Coworkers

This one is more for your own peace of mind than anything else.

If you’re unsure whether someone is actually being rude or if you’re just overreacting then it can help to speak to some other coworkers.

Now, obviously, you don’t want to go around asking everyone what they think as that’ll just make things awkward, especially if it gets back to them.

But if you have a good relationship with someone who you think would give you an unbiased opinion then it can be helpful to ask them what they think.

4. Talk to The Rude Person Privately and Tell Them How You Feel

This is a tough one, but you have to speak with them – and it can be very effective if done correctly.

The next time they’re rude to you, tell them you’re not going to get into it right there and you’ll speak about it later.

When you’ve both cooled off, reach out and ask them if you can speak to them in private.

Explain how their behavior is making you feel and that it needs to stop. Keep cool while speaking with them, give them time to explain themselves, but be firm with what you’re saying.

5. Don’t Take It Personally

Again, this is incredibly difficult but it’s one of the most important tips.

You need to remember that it’s not about you, there’s usually something else going on that has nothing to do with you.

And even if it is about you, that’s their problem not yours.

So don’t take it personally and don’t let it affect your work or your personal life. It’s just never worth it.

6. Document Their Rude Behavior if They Aren’t Going to Stop

If after following the tips above the rudeness continues then it might be time to take more drastic measures.

You should start documenting their behavior, every time it happens make a note of what happened, when it happened, and any witnesses who were there.

You might not need this documentation but it’s always good to have it just in case.

And if their behavior is really affecting your work or mental health then you’ll need to speak to your manager or HR about it.

They’ll ask for examples of evidence and you’ll have all the evidence to hand!

7. Escalate the Issue to Your Manager or Hr Department

If a coworker is being rude and it’s impacting your work then reporting them to your manager or HR department might be your only option.

No one should put up with a coworker being rude to them, and this is exactly why Human Resources departments are there.

Your company should have a process in place to deal with exactly these kinds of situations, so never feel bad about making use of it.

8. Never Hold a Grudge or Try to Get Revenge

Holding a grudge, simmering with rage, and plotting revenge is only going to make things worse.

It’s a negative way to react and will only make the whole situation more difficult, it’s never worth it in the end.

The best thing you can do is move on, focus on your work, and be the bigger person.

We’ve all been there, we’ve all had that one coworker who just rubs us up the wrong way.

They might be loud, they might be obnoxious, or they might just be really good at pushing all of our buttons.

Whatever the case, it’s important to know how to deal with them without making it lower yourself to their level.

9. Don’t Let It Affect Your Work or Your Mental Health

No matter how difficult it might be, you need to try and not let it affect your work or your mental health.

It’s so important to keep a clear head and not let them get under your skin.

In fact, one of the best ways to make them look like a bitter, salty coworker is to outperform them on a work level.

If they’re really getting to you and you can see – or someone else tells you – it’s affecting your mental health you should speak to your HR department asap.

Related Tips for dealing with two-faced, annoying coworkers!

10. Don’t Take These Issues Home

This is another red flag that a rude coworker is getting to you and you need to get some support from the proper channels.

We should all be able to leave our work issues at the door when we head home, and what that’s not the case there is a serious problem.

Your work should never come home with you, and if it is you need to address the issue as soon as possible.

Dealing with rude coworkers can be incredibly frustrating. I hope you are now better equipped as to what to say to a rude coworker and how to resolve the issues they’re causing.

Good luck!


Image credits – Photo by Flipsnack on Unsplash

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