How To Handle A Pushy Coworker

Is someone at work breathing down your neck? The following suggestions can help you erect firm boundaries and secure your turf.

Many job sites include a hierarchy of positions that hint at a pecking order. Whatever your role in the workplace, it is important to protect yourself from aggressive colleagues who can interfere with your job performance.

If someone in your workplace has it in for you, evidenced in pushiness, aggression, and conflict, you may need to take steps to protect yourself and your job. It may be the person wants to belittle you due to his or her own feelings of insignificance. Or the office bully may be planning to steal your job (and higher pay) by making it look as though he or she is carrying out your job duties under the guise of "helping" you meet deadlines.

Whatever the scenario, there are several things you can do to set limits. Here are a few ideas:

1. Avoid too much casual chitchat. A crafty person might appear to be offering a helping hand while checking out your progress and style with a view to claiming your work as his or hers. If you feel that someone is nosing around for no good reason, politely but firmly insist you must get back to work and will chat at break time. Avoid being too friendly with someone who may be trying to take advantage of you.

2. Document everything. Keep a daily file with copies of work completed each day. If you work on the computer, keep a back-up file or disk so that work cannot be sabotaged or duplicated without your consent. You also may want to keep a simple record of projects with their upcoming due-dates. If you decide to let a pushy colleague help, keep track of the work that the person completes and make a note of it for the file.

3. Set limits. If a colleague tries to convince you to do things another way, say "thanks" and you'll give it some thought. If the person gets pushy, smile briefly and explain that you find your method quite satisfactory but will keep an open mind for the future in terms of trying something new. When a coworker who is not your supervisor becomes critical of your work, offer gratitude for the helpful feedback and let it go at that.

4. Avoid conflict. While it may not always be possible, to the best of your ability try not to argue. Some people thrive on it and will escalate small tensions to push for a dispute. Agree when possible, avoid at other times, and maintain a mild manner and upbeat attitude when push comes to shove.

5. See the supervisor. If the problem continues or grows worse, ask your supervisor to speak with the aggressor about maintaining a productive workplace. You also may want to request a change of office to avoid proximity with an assertive coworker. If nothing more, you can alert your boss to the problem and explain your view of things. The matter can be confidentially documented and filed. If the situation deteriorates over time, your bases are covered.

It takes all kinds of employees to operate a job site. Unfortunately, some may try to throw their weight around to win perks, exert authority, or impress others. Hold your stand against those who attempt to breach your boundaries and interrupt your work.

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