One of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had at work as of late was when I realized that my “know-it-all” coworker actually had no idea what they were talking about. It was fantastic! While I admired them for their in-depth knowledge and appreciated their self-assurance, I always felt that their “expertise” was a little too good to be true. And one day when we conversed on a topic that I’m quite passionate about, this particular colleague made several claims that they were certain were true (when in fact they were not). I couldn’t help but smirk when I finally saw my coworker for who they were—simply arrogant.
Given that I pride myself on being a good judge of character, I always sensed that this colleague was full of themselves and that’s not a great quality to have when you work primarily in teams.
So after receiving the confirmation that my colleague was full of hot air I asked myself, how can I continue to work with this person? There was always a sense of doubt that they might know what they’re talking about, but now that I knew they were in fact not the “say all be all” they claimed to be, I was doubting them even more. So I decided to gather my thoughts on why this person was this way and practical ways to deal with them. So here are my tips for staying productive despite having the challenge of dealing with arrogant coworkers:
- Separate yourself from the situation. Keep in mind that this person is insecure and trying to convince themselves that they’re better than you. By reminding yourself that, “it's not you, it's them,” will help you rationalize their behavior. By taking yourself out of the equation you’ll be able to make light of the situation.
- Kill them with kindness. This is one of my favorite methods. When someone has an inflated ego and always needs to be right, don’t feed into their crazy. They’re usually someone who loves a good argument, so don’t let them have it. When they’re trying to push their opinion on you, just nod along. Because they don’t have to do any convincing they’ll most likely wrap it up and get back to work.
- Not afraid of a little confrontation? Nip their obnoxious behavior in the bud. As soon as someone tries to force their opinion on you, let them know politely and firmly that that’s not going to happen. You can borrow a line from the legendary Ron Burgundy and “Agree to disagree.”
- Build up your own confidence. While you develop your own coping skills, you’ll in turn be improving your sense of confidence, but as you do, be aware of how you act towards others so you too are not labeled as arrogant or condescending.
- Remember you’re there to work. While it’s nice to be friends with your coworkers, you’re not going to like everyone. So be respectful and professional and don’t let the attitudes of those who don’t matter get to you.