Have you ever worked in an environment where there was a very competitive, even aggressive coworker?  Sometimes you may even feel that they were attacking you personally or trying to make you fail or put themselves ahead of you. Many of us have. And often, we don’t know how to deal with people like that. Some of us get angry and lash out. Obviously, that’s the wrong approach. Below, I share some points I have found to be effective in dealing with aggressive coworkers.

-1. Realize that the truth wins in the end. This means you don’t have to focus on defending yourself. You can focus on doing your best work and not become distracted.

-2. Know that others are watching. Realize that others will eventually see their over-aggressiveness and not like it if you continue to be friendly and kind. Your boss and other colleagues are watching. They may be fooled initially, but soon they will realize who is right and who is not.

-3. Don’t assume bad intent / ill will. Assume neutral or positive intent instead. If you assume bad intent, you will not give them the chance in your heart to get to know them. Even when they are obviously wrong and doing wrong, it’s better to think that they genuinely believe that what they are doing is the right thing, even thought it might be totally wrong.

-4. Ask questions. Seek to understand them first, then to be understood after that. Ask questions that help you understand them better.

-5. Stay calm and be yourself.  Don’t let their aggressiveness cause you to lose your cool. It takes practice to do it, but it is crucial. Don’t let yourself become angry. If you do, you are letting yourself sit in judgment over others.

-6. Excel. Be so good you can’t be ignored.  How? It’s simple, always do your best. That includes doing your best to get the help you need to success and not simply focusing on doing the best with the skills you have now. When you do your best at developing yourself, at performing your on the job, going beyond what is expected, people will notice and respect you for it. Even your “enemies” won’t be able to deny it.

-7. Make your arguments with respect. Even when you are right, being right doesn’t give you the permission to be rude or not care about the feelings of others. Also, don’t fall into the mental deception that because you know you are right, it should be self-evident to others and so absolve you of the responsibility to humbly make your case for why you believe your approach is right. Others can’t see our hearts and your position isn’t usually self-evident to others.

-8. Be generous. Be kind even to the person who is overly aggressive and tending to tear you down. If your enemy is thirsty, give them something to drink. If they are hungry, give them something to eat. By doing so, you overcome evil with good! This strategy always works in the end. It might take some time, but it always works. The worst thing you can do in this situation is to revenge or treat them badly as they are treating you. Trying to revenge is like putting a gun to your own head and pulling the trigger. It is like drinking cyanide. Don’t do it. Instead, overcome evil with good. It works all the time.

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