Dealing With Inappropriate Colleagues

Whether you love or hate your job, most of us can come with some pros and cons of going to work. Donuts in the break room? Major pro. On the other hand, inappropriate colleagues? Major, major con. Let’s discuss how to deal with people who make the workday even more infuriating than it has to be.

ABA: Always Be Avoiding

If you can avoid the co-worker that always has something to say, do it. Sometimes people are better off in small doses, so don’t feel guilty if you have to set this boundary. We aren’t saying to be cold to this person; be polite and keep your interactions quick.

Process Your Emotions

Sometimes, when someone says something inappropriate, it feels like it came out of nowhere. Take the time to work through your feelings before addressing the issue so you can sort through what you want to convey to the other person. For example, excuse yourself to another room to take a deep breath, think through what happened, and consider your next step.

Never Let ’Em See You Sweat

Even adults like to say things they know will get under another person’s skin. If you find that you work alongside someone like this, don’t react. Instead, excuse yourself. Not only does this get you out of the entire situation, but they don’t get the satisfaction of pushing you to your wit’s end.

Threat Level

Determine the severity of the comments in the workplace. From there, decide whether you can easily address the issue with a conversation or if the situation requires disciplinary action from someone higher up. Sometimes wires get crossed, and the person didn’t mean any harm, so it never hurts to address a specific comment privately.

Consider Where You Stand

Think about your role in the workplace and your level of responsibility for addressing these situations. For example, if you’re a manager, it’s your duty to set an example and address any inappropriate behavior you may see on your team. On the other hand, if you’re entry-level or new to a company, you may want to consider talking to a supervisor or human resources about the employee and their behavior so that the proper steps can be taken.

Wait a Minute, Refocus

If you’re working with someone that just has to pepper in inappropriate contexts during what should be a professional conversation, don’t shy away from refocusing the entire conversation. This may sound like, “I’m not comfortable discussing that. What was the next item on the agenda?” Or, hit them with a “How is that relevant to our work?” To make these comments extra earth-shattering to the workplace nuisance, make full eye contact during the delivery.

Escalate As Needed

After a private conversation or chat with human resources, if you find inappropriate comments are still being made, start documenting each incident. If you’ve not yet gone to upper management or HR, now is the time. Always be proactive about standing up for yourself because your workplace should be a safe space.

How have you dealt with inappropriate colleagues? Share your tips with us in the comments below!

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