Do you have a coworker who acts like they’re your boss? Maybe they issue orders or dominate department meetings. Perhaps they give you advice you didn’t ask for or insist on having projects done their way even when you’re supposed to be in charge.
An overeager coworker can cause conflicts and interfere with your productivity.
Before you lose your cool, try these tips for dealing with the situation.
- Talk it over. If you want things to change, it’s important to assert yourself. Start with brief statements indicating that you have your tasks covered and don’t require any assistance at the moment. If the interference persists, you may need to schedule a more formal conversation.
- Listen closely. Keep in mind that there can be many different motives for the same behavior. Paying attention to your coworker will help them to feel that you respect their views and want to understand what they’re trying to accomplish.
- Stay calm. Your discussion will be more productive if you can avoid anger and judgements. While you’re addressing the one behavior that annoys you, think about your coworker’s good points as well. You’ll feel friendlier if you remember what you like about them.
- Set boundaries. Healthy relationships depend on establishing and enforcing reasonable boundaries. Whatever your colleague’s intentions, let them know that you wish to focus on your own work and expect them to do the same.
- Suggest a team meeting. If additional measures are needed, you could suggest that you and your coworker discuss the division of work with your boss. If your coworker wants to avoid such a confrontation, they may become less intrusive.
- Hold yourself accountable. Examine your own conduct to determine what role you’ve been playing in any conflict. Ask yourself if your own insecurity or jealousy could be a factor.
- Be inclusive. You’ll probably feel more confident about your position if you’re trying to help your colleagues as well as yourself. Talk with someone you trust to see if others feel like they’re being bossed around too. If so, you can support each other’s efforts to be more assertive.
- Ask for help. It’s usually wise to try to resolve conflicts yourself before getting your boss involved, but sometimes it’s necessary to consult a higher authority. If you decide to approach your boss, be sure to stay focused on creating conditions that maximize productivity.
- Cultivate other relationships. While you need to be courteous and respectful with each of your colleagues, it’s natural to feel closer to some of them than to others. Having a few office friends you can laugh and talk with makes it easier to handle any irritations.
- Focus on your goals. Use the situation as an opportunity to work on your leadership abilities. Volunteer for high-profile assignments and take courses that will increase your skills. Mentor another employee and practice delegating tasks that someone else could do more efficiently.
- Remain positive. Avoid complaining about your coworkers. Staying upbeat will earn you more trust and responsibility. You’ll also be creating a more pleasant workplace for you and the rest of your team.
Establishing clear boundaries and communicating effectively will help you to handle a coworker who may be overreaching. Being assertive changes the team dynamic and creates an atmosphere where more voices can be heard.
Even if your coworker doesn’t change their behavior, you’ll be taking a professional and constructive approach to the situation. You’ll gain greater respect as a result.