If you truly enjoy those you work with, you’re in good company. Most people say they are highly satisfied with their relationship with their boss and co-workers, according to Pew Research. Sometimes, though, a colleague might do something to get under your skin. They may interrupt you in meetings, speak to you in a patronizing tone or make a snide remark.

When faced with disrespectful behavior, you may want to respond in a similar manner. However, this rarely leads to a positive outcome. It’s better to extend a little grace and patience, which goes a long way to defuse tension and keep the peace.

Michelle Jones, an operations manager at Duke University, says it’s possible to address a condescending colleague while keeping your cool. We share her tips in this issue of PromoPro Daily.

  1. Don’t take it personally. Even if the other person intended to be rude, try your best to stay calm and positive. Never underestimate the power of kindness in a negative situation, Jones says. Keep in mind that their words or actions probably have more to do with them than they do with you and what they think about you.
  2. Finish the interaction. You might want to react with condescension yourself, but try to avoid this. Jones recommends getting the information you need from the interaction and moving on.
  3. Seek clarification. If you feel like a co-worker is behaving in a condescending way, ask them what they mean by their actions or words. Some people are simply clueless, while others may be accustomed to speaking in a certain way and don’t recognize it as being inappropriate, Jones says.
  4. Watch your body language. You can hold your ground by standing up straight and taking up space. Don’t shrink back or slouch down. Jones recommends doing your best to maintain a calm and neutral demeanor.
  5. Choose your battles. Not every condescending remark requires a response. Distinguish between statements or actions that are irritating and behavior that is preventing you from getting your work done, Jones says.
  6. Keep it professional. You don’t have to put up with condescending co-workers, but always remain professional. Jones suggests calmly letting the other person know how their words or behavior impacted you.

If you find yourself wondering how to handle a condescending co-worker, remember to stay calm. This reflects your professionalism and helps contribute to a harmonious and productive workplace.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Michelle Jones is an operations manager at Duke University and contributes posts for the Duke Learning and Organization Development blog.