How to Deal with an Abrasive Co-Worker or Boss

Are you sensing pushback when you try to connect with colleagues or bosses who are edgy, irritable, and short-tempered?

Are you feeling a sense of pushback when you try to connect with colleagues or bosses who don’t know how to communicate? 

Do you ever think to yourself “I love my job, but I don’t know if I can build bridges with difficult coworkers?”

In today’s work world where people are leaving in droves due to a bad culture, it’s understandable that you might also be ready to throw in the towel.

While leaving the company is an option, you’re in a dilemma. 

You really love your work. You’re committed to the mission of the organization, and you’re making a difference.

If only you didn’t have to deal with an abrasive co-worker. 

I’ve been there too

Like many people, I’ve had challenging work experiences that drive the passion for my work today as a organizational health leadership coach. 

Having experienced first hand working in a dysfunctional workplace, my mission is to stop employee suffering due to toxic workplace behaviors. 

It was back several years ago when I was in a job that I enjoyed immensely, yet every day I never knew which one of the leaders was going to have an angry, emotional outburst.

In fact, there was one leader where it was the norm rather than the exception to yell at employees in front of colleagues while make condescending comments.  We never knew who would be his next target.

And I didn’t have the skills to handle it.

Because I enjoyed the work so much, I chose to stay and work with a mentor to get the skills I lacked to deal with the workplace dysfunction.

While it was one of the toughest times of my life, I gained the mindset and skills to transform from being a people-pleaser (or a doormat) to setting clear boundaries. 

I also learned how to not take condescending remarks personally and instead see past the leader’s behavior to standing firm in my contribution to the organization’s mission. 

Please know, I’m not saying it was easy and it didn’t happen overnight.  Having support around me was key to staying in the job, implementing new skills, getting knocked down, getting back up. Repeat.

My intention is to give you hope that you have choices. I urge you to get help to sort out what’s the best choice for you. Read the story of how Sue explored three choices: Leave; Stay and endure; or Stay and grow.

If you relate to my story and want to explore new ways to navigate challenging work environments, please join me at HR Academy Conference on Tuesday, 03/28 to attend my training, “Address Abrasive Behaviors with your Top-Performers Sooner vs. Later”

During this training, you will gain:

  • Effective strategies for dealing with abrasive leaders.
  • New skills for setting boundaries and standing firm in your contributions to the organization’s mission, leading to increased confidence and self-esteem.
  • A better understanding of how workplace culture affects employee well-being and productivity, leading to insights for creating a more positive and supportive work environment.

Don’t suffer alone. If you are having a tough time with a challenging co-worker or boss, know there is hope. In this training, you will get actionable tools to navigate tense situations so you no longer dread going to work and fully contribute your talent. 

Sign up now

About the author 

Bonnie Artman Fox, MS, LMFT works with executive leaders who want to gain self-awareness about the impact of their words and actions and up-level their interpersonal skills. 

Drawing from decades as a psychiatric nurse and licensed family therapist, Bonnie brings a unique perspective to equip executive leaders with the roadmap to emotional intelligence that brings teams together. 

Bonnie’s leadership Turnaround coaching program has an 82% success rate in guiding leaders to replace abrasive behavior with tact, empathy, and consideration of others. The end result is a happy, healthy, and profitable workplace…sooner vs. later.

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