😣😫🤒 This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Hannah Madden. Hannah Madden is a writer, editor, and artist currently living in Portland, Oregon. In 2018, she graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. Hannah enjoys writing articles about conservation, sustainability, and eco-friendly products. When she isn’t writing, you can find Hannah working on hand embroidery projects and listening to music.
This article has been viewed 2,535 times.
😣😫🤒 Do you ever feel like you have two bosses? There’s your actual boss, and then there’s a coworker who acts like they’re your boss. Getting told what to do is frustrating enough, but it’s even harder to deal with when it comes from a peer and not someone in charge. Fortunately, there are ways you can deal with your coworker without making a huge scene. Read this article for a comprehensive list of tips for dealing with a bossy coworker that you can use today.
1 1 of 11:Treat your coworker with kindness.
- Being calm and nice will lead to a more productive workplace environment. It can be tough to keep your emotions in check when your coworker bosses you around. If you find yourself getting frustrated or worked up, take a few deep breaths and count to 10 before responding.XResearch source
- Bossy people tend to look for situations where they can play the victim. The more you treat them with respect and kindness, the less fuel you’ll add to the fire.
- However, being kind doesn’t mean letting them tell you what to do forever. You can still be kind and civil while also being assertive about your own needs.
2 2 of 11:Call out their behavior in the moment.
- Calling them out now will help prevent a big blow up later on. If you feel like your coworker is being bossy, calmly but firmly tell them that the way they just talked to you wasn’t okay. They might just take the hint and stop bossing you around, especially if they don’t do it often.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- "I’m not sure you can assign that task to me, since you aren’t in charge of this project."
- "I feel like you don’t trust me to do a good job on my own. Is that the case?"
- "I actually don’t need your help with that, I can tackle this on my own."
3 3 of 11:Tell them no gently.
- Decline their orders without starting a fight. When a coworker demands that you do something, it can feel tough to tell them no without sounding rude. Try skirting around the issue by telling them you aren’t going to do that while still being professional. Use phrases like:XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- "That’s a great idea, but I have a lot on my plate already. Why don’t I focus on my work, and you can focus on your own?"
- "I’m going to follow the guidelines set by the boss."
- "Let’s check in with the boss first to see what they say."
4 4 of 11:Have a private conversation with them.
- Talking to your coworker one-on-one can help settle your differences. If your coworker has bossed you around a few times already, it’s worth having a conversation with them. Invite them out to coffee or go out to lunch together to have a chat. Talk to them about how you’ve been feeling, and use "I" statements to bring up issues without your coworker getting defensive or angry.XResearch source
- "When you micromanage my work, I feel like you think I can’t handle it on my own."
- "When you tell me what to do, it makes me feel frustrated. We’re coworkers and peers, so we’re on the same level here."
- "When you walk me through things I already know how to do, it makes me feel belittled."
5 5 of 11:Set clear boundaries.
- Boundaries will tell your coworker what is (and isn’t) okay. In a private conversation, spell out exactly what you’d like your coworker to stop doing, and how you’d like them to treat you in the future. That way, they know their behavior is unacceptable, and they can work on making changes in the future.XResearch source
- "I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t tell me what to do anymore. I’ll focus on my work, and you can focus on yours. If you have concerns about my work, feel free to ask me questions about it."
- "In the future, let’s work on collaborating with each other instead of trying to tell each other what to do."
- "I like working with you, but I’d like it even more if we could both focus on our own work."
6 6 of 11:Focus on your common goals.
- Direct your coworker’s attention toward your workplace, not you. Chances are, your coworker is being bossy because they want everyone to put their best foot forward. Remind your coworker that you’re both working toward the same goal, and you care about your work just as much as they do.XResearch source
- "I understand that you want our projects to be polished—so do I! We all want our work to look good so that our clients trust us."
- "We’re both working toward the same goal. I also care about this company and doing the best I can do."
- "I’ve worked here for 5 years, so I know just how important the deadlines are."
7 7 of 11:Lead by example.
- Show your coworker how you can make requests, not demands. Maybe your coworker isn’t sure how to approach you when they have a question or a concern. You can give them an example by treating them with respect and never bossing them around. That way, they know what’s expected of them, and they can follow your lead going forward.XResearch source
- If you need them to do something for you, you might say, "Hey, do you have time to take this on later? No worries if not; I know you’re busy."
- If you want to work together on something, you could say, "Hey, just checking to see if you wanted to collaborate on this report. With some team effort, I think we could knock this out of the park."
8 8 of 11:Try not to take their bossiness personally.
- Let their comments roll off your back to help you move on. Bossy people rarely single out one person in particular—if you pay attention, you’ll probably find that your coworker is bossy toward everyone, not just you. When you find yourself getting fed up, remind yourself that it’s nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.XTrustworthy SourceHelpGuideNonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources.Go to source
- Bossy people often feel the need to control everything around them, which can be exhausting. There’s a good chance that your bossy coworker doesn’t enjoy telling everyone what to do, but they don’t really know how to stop.
9 9 of 11:Give your coworker the benefit of the doubt.
- Thinking about their good traits can help calm you down. Your coworker might not mean to be bossy—maybe they’re trying to be assertive, or they care a lot about the workplace. Try to keep these points in mind, and don’t assume that your coworker is out to get you.XResearch source
- Some people talk with a harsher tone, which can make them sound bossy when they don’t mean to be. Your coworker might just have a different communication style than you do.
10 10 of 11:Get close to your other coworkers.
- Lean on your peers so you can all be assertive together. If you notice that you’re not the only one being bossed around by your coworker, sit down and chat with your other coworkers about it. Try not to be rude or gossip about them—stick to the facts, and then talk about what you can all do together about it in the future.XResearch source
- "Have you noticed that Sarah is a little bossy? Maybe the next time she tries to tell one of us what to do, we could stick up for each other."
- "I noticed that Sam was telling you what to do yesterday. He does the same thing to me. Should we talk to him about it?"
11 11 of 11:Talk to your boss if you need to.
- Your boss can help mediate if nothing is changing. If you’ve tried talking to your coworker one-on-one and they still tell you what to do all the time, escalate the situation. Approach your boss or the HR department and ask them to have a chat with your coworker. They can help you deal with the conflict and get things resolved quickly.XResearch source
- Treat your meeting with the boss or HR as a chance to go over peer-to-peer relations rather than a coworker-bashing session. Keep your comments professional and respectful to get the higher-ups on your side.
- "Jeremy does great work, and I can tell he cares a lot about this company. However, I’ve noticed that he tends to take on a leadership role often, even when it’s not required of him. I’d love to chat with you and Jeremy at the same time to go over his role and how he fits into this team."