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20 Comebacks to Say When Dealing with a Hostile Co-Worker


It can be difficult to deal with a hostile coworker.

When you are in this situation, you can naturally make your unpleasant work-life.

If you want to improve the situation, it is essential to find a way to deal with your coworker. Addressing the problem can dissipate tension and lead to a positive solution.

Twenty responses to say when dealing with a hostile coworker

It would be better if you can’t stand hostile behavior from anyone, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Address the situation without returning the hostility it is possible, so you don’t have to lower yourself to their level.

1. “I hear what you are saying.”

Sometimes simply acknowledging that you are listening can encourage them to stop talking. Say it calmly, just to let them know that you are listening. Then you can ask them to explain more or suggest that you talk about it later.

2. “We are both passionate about our work.”

When you experience hostility at work, it could be that the person feels threatened by you. If you’re good at your job, they might think you’ll get over them. Using this phrase will let them know that you think they are as passionate as you are.

While this phrase may not always work, it might help ease the tension a bit. If the person believes that you believe they are valuable, the hostility may diminish and you may gain some respect from them. Otherwise, they will at least know that you are making it clear that they are working together no matter what.

3. “It makes me feel bad when you tell me that. Is that your goal? “

Sometimes being frank is the key to dealing with a hostile coworker. Confronting them about their behavior can sometimes make them see that it is not okay.

However, don’t treat them with a list of the things they did wrong. Instead, use this phrase and ask as they are behaving negatively. Doing it in real time will prompt a better response than doing it at another time.

4. “I have noticed that our joint working relationship is not the best. What do you think we could do differently? “

If you say this to your coworker, it sounds more like a conversation than an ambush. Catching them in a good time will also help, because they will be more open to positive communication. Find out where the problems are and how you can work together it can make a difference.

If you can resolve differences in this way, your work life will be much more peaceful. Also, you can develop a healthy working relationship with that person.

5. “Can you explain what you mean by that?”

When the person says something rude or passive-aggressive, ask him to explain it. It may be that you have not understood well, and this gives them the opportunity to clarify things. Or, if you understood correctly, they will realize that they are hostile and that you are not going to tolerate it.

If you can, ask specific questions about your comment. They may feel better if they have a chance to explain it, or their coworker will realize that they are not doing it right. It’s never okay to be rude, but sometimes lighting can go a long way.

6. “I understand you are concerned about this.”

Acknowledging your coworker’s concerns can sometimes defuse the situation right away. They may feel that they are not listening. Change the phrase to fit the exact experience you are in.

7. “Can you stop acting like this?”

When you’ve tried nicer tactics without a positive result, this question might be the solution. If your behavior becomes repetitive, saying so could embarrass you, especially in front of other people. While you don’t want to be hostile to them, you can be assertive in this way.

Don’t tolerate someone constantly interrupting you or arguing with you. Chances are, if you notice their behavior, other people will too. You may be the only one talking even when everyone else wants to.

8. “You’re being rude, so when you’re in a better mood, we can talk.”

Setting limits in this way can be beneficial for a number of reasons. First, you have a chance to calm yourself by dealing with their hostility. Also, your coworker has time to reflect on himself and perhaps realize that he was wrong.

If you reacted well at that point rather than suggesting a later time, you may have made the situation worse. Saying things in the heat of the moment can cause more conflict rather than find a solution.

9. “What can I do to help solve the problems here?”

When you’re starting to deal with hostility, asking this question might help solve the problem. Sometimes the coworker may have a problem that they can handle quickly. Otherwise, this question will make them realize that you will not sit quietly.

Be prepared, however, for the person to tell you their faults. Whether they’re on the defensive or it’s a legitimate concern, accepting their role might be the only thing that helps. Don’t accept fake stuff, of course, but it’s something you need to prepare for.

10. “I don’t like being talked to like that. It’s degrading. “

Never hesitate to speak up and stand up for yourself. Do not tolerate demeaning behavior from anyone, much less from a co-worker. Once they realize that you will not allow the behavior, they will likely try to change or move on.

11. “It’s rude when you keep interrupting me.”

If your coworker interrupts you, it is a form of hostility. Give them a call and let them know that they are rude. If they do it during meetings, they will feel even more ashamed of their behavior because you will have called them in front of everyone.

If you do it in private instead, you can wait until later and approach them one by one. You don’t have to mean it in a mean way, but be firm and let them know it’s not okay.

12. “You’re being condescending to me.”

Addressing this type of behavior at work is acceptable. You don’t have to put up with condescending behavior, and calling people can put an end to it.

Don’t be dramatic and don’t make a long spiel about the way they are acting. State the problem and leave it at that.

13. “I will be happy to talk about what is bothering you, but now is not the time.”

If your coworker approaches you at an inopportune time and wants to talk, you can refuse. Let them know that you see that they are upset and you will talk about it later. Don’t let them put you in a bind, especially if they behave this way.

14. “What you said is affecting me, so I want to make sure I understand.”

This phrase is another way of clarifying what the person was trying to say. If they didn’t mean it that way, you can explain it again and have a conversation about it. Otherwise, having them explain their comment will make them feel uncomfortable.

15. “Do you realize that you are being hostile?”

Sometimes people do not realize that they are exhibiting this type of behavior. You may be the first person to tell them, which can help them make a positive change. However, if they do know, the comment will let them know that they will relax a bit.

16. “Thanks for all your help.”

If the person behaves this way because they feel threatened by you, thanking them may help. By thanking them for helping you, they will understand that you do not feel superior to them. Realizing this can help decrease hostility in the workplace and help you get along.

17. “I’m not going to get into this with you.”

You can be respectful while remaining firm with the hostile person. Let them know that you will not fight or argue with them and that you will not tolerate disrespect. Choosing not to get sucked into their game may encourage them to relax a bit.

18. “We can continue this conversation when you are least offended.”

If your coworker has offended you and you feel defensive, this phrase is the way to go. Instead of allowing your emotions to take over, walk away with a promise to finish talking later.

You can’t help but have the conversation, or it will only make the situation worse, but you can put it off for a while. Give yourself time to calm down and think things through before handling it.

19. “Do you have any ideas to contribute to the plan?”

Asking the person if they have any ideas lets them see that you are not trying to overshadow them. It gives them a chance to show everyone the value they bring, which could ease hostility.

20. “The way you are acting will not solve anything we are dealing with here.”

Sometimes letting your coworker know that their behavior is not helping can make a difference. Hostile people don’t always like to be called, and they are likely to feel embarrassed because they are wrong.

Final thoughts on what to say when dealing with a hostile coworker

You don’t have to put up with negative behavior from a hostile coworker. Speak up and do what you can to end the unpleasant situation.

Talking isn’t always enough, but it can let your coworker know that you won’t tolerate it. If all else fails, they could at least point their hostility elsewhere.





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