How to Deal With Condescending Coworkers

How to Deal With Condescending Coworkers

Having to deal with condescending coworkers at work is not a desirable experience, but one that can be handled successfully. We all deserve respect in our workplace, and that too regardless of our years of experience or roles.

Condescending coworkers, on the other hand, show others the opposite of this.

And they are not the type of coworkers you want to be around at work.

Granted, a workplace usually comprises people of different levels of exposure, experience, skills, talents, and abilities.

That is exactly how it should be because this diversity makes collaboration easier and foster teamwork.

For the unity of purpose and collaboration though, there must be mutual respect between colleagues at work.

In line with this, each staff must treat the other person with dignity and see them be just as important as themselves to the organization.

Condescending coworkers do the exact opposite.

Instead of showing respect, they look down on their colleagues and attempt to show superiority over others.

It might be that they are in higher positions in the organization, and as such feel, it is proper to disregard or belittle those under them.

Some condescending coworkers might even be of the same level as their colleagues that they treat with contempt and disrespect.

If you are currently facing those types of coworkers in your place of work, then this article is for you.

As we go on, you will learn the best ways to deal with them.

But first, let us get a full understanding of what condescending coworkers are, and how to quickly recognize them.

What are Condescending Coworkers?

The word ‘condescending’ refers to an attitude that is characterized by one feeling and showing superiority over others.

Someone who is condescending is arrogant and egotistic and usually tries to rub this bad attitude of theirs on the faces of others.

Condescending coworkers to deal with are colleagues at work, who have this arrogant attitude and lack respect for their coworkers.

These look down on their colleagues and have an air of superiority and arrogance around them.

They have no regard for the experience, skills, or even the competence of their coworkers, but see themselves as better.

It can also mean trying to patronize someone else, often in a manner that might come off as being helpful, but shows superiority.

Condescending coworkers to deal with might belittle your competence by always treating you as though you need help because you are not capable.

While there are offers to help that come from a genuine place, this one is not, and bodes along the line of ridicule and disdain.

Condescending coworkers can be found at every level in the workplace, either an older staff patronizing a younger one or vice-versa.

Condescension is a subtle form of workplace bullying, and it is important to learn how to deal with condescending coworkers.

Identifying Condescending Coworkers – Signs Of Condescension at Work 

Condescending coworkers are sometimes frontal in their show of condescension, while at times they might do this subtly.

It could be done verbally and also non-verbally.

Condescension at work might involve aggressive behaviors such as yelling at a coworker, and it might also be making annoying remarks behind your back.

Here are some behaviors that might come off as condescending from a coworker, which you must deal with:

Shouting or Yelling 

One of the behaviors that come off as being condescending from coworkers in the workplace is aggression shown by shouting or yelling.

This shouldn’t have a place in the work environment.

Whether it is coming from someone who is a boss or in a superior position, or one who is just a colleague, it is wrong and a sign of condescension.

Before someone feels they can yell or shout at another person to make their point, there is a feeling of superiority going on.

It is a lack of regard for the other party that causes that.

And if you find some coworkers always doing this, it shows they are condescending.

Coworkers “Schooling” You on What You Already Know 

We also see this play out sometimes in the workplace, whereby some individuals would want to always explain things you already know.

It might be that you are in the process of giving a speech or leading a conversation with your opinions and they abruptly shut you down.

Usually, those condescending coworkers would start dishing out information as though they are offering you a gift.

They do not want to entertain the idea that you already know about that thing or share the same knowledge that they do.

Instead, they conclude that you might or should not know about what they are talking about, but simply focused on what they know and are desperate to share it.

That is another sign of condescending coworkers you need to deal with.

Making Belittling Comments in Form of Jokes 

Of course, making jokes is good, and can lift the work environment when done right.

However, making it a habit of belittling or looking down on colleagues by using words that come off as jokes isn’t right.

Those are the kind of jokes that are said to be expensive.

It doesn’t lift off the spirit of people, but rather does the opposite.

Belittling comments even if it is done in form of jokes or humor shows a lack of respect for the other person.

Talking Ill of People Behind Their Back 

Another condescending behavior from coworkers is making it a habit of talking about people behind their back.

Usually, those who do this have nothing good to say about you, but rather prefer to peddle ill or bad comments about you to others.

They do not say these things to your face, but rather prefer to say them before other people when you are not there.

That is another sign of disrespect from coworkers and a condescending attitude from them.

Exaggerating One-Off Actions as Regular Occurences 

Have you ever had conversations with some coworkers and they are fond of using the words: “Always” or “Never” to characterize your actions?

Probably you do something that is not right, and they imply that you “always” do that.

It might also be that you failed to act, and they say that you “never” do such.

This behavior comes off as a generalization of your actions, and it is the other person being judgemental of you.

Such coworkers are being definitive of you, and it also shows they have a condescending attitude.

Belittling People’s Feelings, Opinions, and Reactions

Another attitude that usually comes off as condescending from coworkers is belittling your opinions or feelings.

It is often said that everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

However, when someone continually tries to bring down your own opinions or overlook them as irrelevant, it is condescending.

These might say you overreact to things, or that your emotions, feelings, and reactions are not worth it or genuine.

A coworker who makes it a habit of doing this continually is condescending to you.

Giving Backhanded Compliments 

Backhanded compliments are compliments that are given in a snide way and as such aren’t compliments at all.

The coworker’s motive might even be pure, but the choice of words for the supposed compliment makes it condescending.

For example, imagine a coworker telling you that your work or project was “surprisingly” good.

Saying the work/project was good would have been the right compliment to give, which gives credit to your ability and efficiency.

However, the word “surprisingly” added to the statement already signifies that the person didn’t expect that result from you.

And that can be a sign of condescension from a coworker.

It might also be when asking a coworker for help or assistance with something, and they say “all you need to do is ‘just’…”.

The word “just” there already sends a message that the action you ought to take is simple enough that you should know it.

Hence, the choice of words shows they are condescending to you.

These are just examples of some statements and backhanded compliments that signify condescension from a coworker.

How to Deal With Condescending Coworkers 

Now that you already know what condescending coworkers are, and how to recognize them at work, the next question is: “How do you deal with them?”.

Well, having to work with condescending coworkers is anything but pleasurable, and can have a lot of negative effects on you.

For one thing, this can affect your self-worth and self-esteem, and might even affect your productivity in the long run.

If you do not have the best response or approach to dealing with condescending coworkers, it can also cause conflicts in the workplace.

However, to avoid those negative outcomes, here are some of the measures you can take to deal with condescending coworkers:

Be Calm and Do Not Take it Personally 

The first thing you need to do when you have to deal with condescending coworkers is to be calm under such circumstances.

For one thing, you should already know which of your coworkers is condescending and they would have made it a habit to be categorized as such.

Hence, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when they exhibit such condescending behaviors.

Therefore, when it happens, try to stay calm, understanding it is the nature of the person.

Also, do not take it too personally especially if it is a condescending remark from the individual.

The aim of the person might be to get you angry or provoke you, or even bully you.

If you take it personally, seeing it as an attack, then you will respond emotionally, which might escalate the problem.

Learn to Ignore If Needed

Having to deal with condescending coworkers can be a big challenge when you are always in the same space with them.

What that means is that when the coworkers who are condescending work closely with you and are integral to your daily duties, then it becomes a challenge.

However, some condescending coworkers might just be around your work environment, but not necessarily have a direct impact on your work.

It might even be that you do not see them regularly, but just have encounters with them on occasions.

If that is the case, then it is not worth stressing or losing sleepovers.

For such people, it might be best to ignore them during those occasional moments of condescending attitude.

Talk to the Coworker About His/Her Attitude 

There are circumstances where it would be impossible and even unadvisable to ignore the condescending behaviors of a coworker.

This is when you have to work closely with this individual daily and cannot seem to avoid having contact with him/her.

It might also be that the condescending attitude of the coworker is beginning to affect your productivity and job satisfaction.

If that is the case, then looking the other way is not the solution, but needs to be addressed head-on.

Therefore, if someone on your team or a close contact at work is condescending, call the person and have the conversation.

Remember that your goal is to let the person be aware of their attitude and try to see if you can get a change from them.

It is therefore important that you do not come on an attack, as this can worsen the situation.

Instead, be professional about it, and politely let them know that a particular remark or action of theirs is condescending to you.

Let them also know how that attitude makes you feel and how it affects you personally and your work.

When you do, you just might be able to make them see your point, and change that attitude for the better.

Speak with a Superior or the Management About This 

If the co-worker who is exhibiting a condescending attitude towards you is not your superior, then this can work.

It is always good and proper to ask for assistance especially when you are faced with a situation that is proving hard for you to handle yourself.

Hence, don’t give up after trying to have a conversation with the person and there is no change.

Instead, you can ask a superior for help.

Let them know what form of condescension you’ve been experiencing from the coworker.

Also, share how it has impacted you negatively.

Try to be as professional as possible with this as well.

Do not make it seem as though you are “ratting” your colleague out or setting them up.

Ensure you have proofs/evidence including eye-witnesses if possible to corroborate your claims.

Also, remember to emphasize how their attitude or behavior has affected your work input or output.

This will give credence to your observations and help you get the help you seek.

Repay Them With Kindness 

Some forms of condescension from coworkers might come off as acts of bullying.

In such situations, it might be best to use kind actions, words, and deeds to soften them.

Series of experiences have shown that when you act this way, it might move the person who is condescending on purpose to have a rethink.

Seeing that their aim of getting you angry or getting a reaction from you has failed might soften their stance towards you and make them better.

Kindness has always proven to be a more effective weapon to fight against negativity than anger or quarrel.

Avoid Overly Complaining About It To Others 

If there is anyone that needs to know about your condescending coworkers, it is the coworkers themselves and your superior as earlier noted.

There might be the temptation to want to complain about this to everyone who gives a listening ear.

This is how gossips and the ensuing disagreements, conflicts, and disunity come up in the workplace.

Therefore, do not resort to talking about your condescending coworker to others every opportunity you get.

You might come off as the one who is disrupting the peace and tranquility of the workplace.

And it can also risk your good reputation.

Instead of getting the negative reactions you want towards the condescending coworker, you might end up as the villain.

Consider escalating the condescending coworker’s behavior, to the appropriate authority instead of complaining to everyone that cares to listen.

Try to Understand Their Background and Point of View 

Some condescending attitudes from coworkers to deal with are not deliberate, and they might even be oblivious of it.

Humans behave and talk based solely on how they were brought up.

Also, the environment they grew up in and their experiences shape them.

What you perceive as a sign of condescension from a coworker might just be an attitude borne out of their background and type of person.

Hence, learning to look at things from their point of view or understanding where they came from might soften your reaction to the condescending attitude or see it differently.

Conclusion – How to Deal with Condescending Coworkers  

People have different attitudes and behaviors, and as such, you would always find condescending coworkers in your office.

Note that the way people behave is a reflection of who they are most of the time.

It has little or nothing to do with you.

Hence, do not be too hard on yourself when you face this situation.

Also, do not stoop low to their level.

While it might be hard for you to change them, you can effectively deal with condescending coworkers, and keep your productivity high.

You will also experience joy and job satisfaction.