So, I’m a Gemini.  And I’ve heard that means that I have two personalities, two “faces.”

Angry WomanThis is true, of course.  I do have two personae: one for home and one for work. But, then again, I think we all have the same (or should, anyway!).

Having worked in marketing now for a number of years—much as I would like to include them, the two years I spent developing my high school fansites for the LucasArts game Outlaws and Swedish pop group The A*Teens do not fit the “professional” part of this—I have expanded my network by hundreds, if not thousands, of people.  And in those years, I have run into a handful of people who can only be described in one word: disrespectful.

I’m not saying these are bad people, but as co-workers they lack a certain … grace.

So how do you deal with this type?  A lot of people have responses, but are they really appropriate or realistic?

1. Understand that everyone has personal problems.
Most of the time, we have no idea what goes on in our co-workers’ personal lives, and that can understandably affect their mood at work. But, wait … we all have personal issues, and somehow the rest of us leave those at home, so this is a moot point. And, to be honest, venting about the co-worker at home is affecting our own personal lives. Still, have a bit of sympathy for the co-worker in question, because you aren’t walking in his or her shoes and have no idea what could be going on.

2. Don’t let them get to you.
You keep your head down and get your job done. It’s easy enough to say this, but when someone starts copying your boss on their rude emails to you, it’s hard not to let it get to you. After all, at that point you have to explain the situation to your boss. That makes things personal. Even so, if you do not have to work with the co-worker in question very often, it’s relatively easy to just let things slide. If you have to deal with this person on a daily basis, however, it may be time to move to the next option …

3. Kill them with kindness.
According to CNN, “even though it can take a lot to be nice to someone who is rude, this can pave the way to a more collegial relationship.” I’ll admit: it’s very difficult to do this and takes incredible self-control. But you can do it! According to an article on, “instead of having defensive reactions to the person’s criticisms or negative comments, refuse to argue. Point out the good in every situation. Point out specific positives you see.” The result, in all likelihood, will be that he or she will realize that his or her comments are not having any effect, and you will take some comfort in being the bigger person.

4. Confront them.
Before you do this, take note of the times your co-worker has made you feel bullied or insulted. Keep a paper trail of emails that seem overly aggressive or insulting, or jot down the comments you heard on phone calls or in meetings. With notes in hand, arrange a face-to-face, one-on-one meeting with the co-worker and approach the situation calmly; the last thing you want is for the colleague to immediately go on the defensive, which could further exacerbate things. By speaking to the co-worker directly, you have the opportunity to provide clarity to your dispute and hopefully make them realize that they are being unreasonable in their actions.

5. Get others involved.
If it gets to the point where you can no longer perform your job duties without fearing a disrespectful comment (written or verbal), it may be time to bring it to the attention of others. Explain the situation to your boss or your HR manager, providing details and examples where necessary. And try to stay as calm and objective as possible; getting emotional about it or blasting the co-worker usually has the opposite desired effect.

A study from a few years ago showed that employees dealing with rude co-workers were more likely to make mistakes in their own work. Clearly it’s best to deal with the situation head-on rather than allowing it to fester.

Have you ever had to deal with a rude co-worker? What did you do to fix or deal with the situation?

Image courtesy of Mom’s Fortress of Solitude