I'm a programmer at a smaller company and I enjoy the responsibility and the freedom that this brings. It also mean that the professional relationships you have inside the company are more important.

I generally get along fine with my colleagues, but I have a few that I feel uncomfortable with. I perceive them as slightly pretentious and that they have bought into the idea that you are supposed to have an opinion about everything, often negative, and express these as often that you get the chance.

I don't think I've ever heard them asking questions, being interested in others opinions, or discussing things with other colleagues without having having a clear cut idea at the beginning that they stoutly adhere to, forcing the discussion to revolve around their idea.

I'm sure that they are competent in their way, but not at all in the magnitude to justify this kind of behavior.

It's surely not my responsibility to change people, but I do want to be able to be able to work with them and to still keep my motivation and to avoid feeling stood on as a way to gain personal self-justification.

How can I promote a functional professional relationship with colleagues like these? Should I please them? Should I challenge them? Do I have to avoid them?

  • What is your standing with these "pretentious" types? Are you all peers, or are they more senior? Not condoning behaviour, but it does limit your options.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 22:01
  • @HorusKol We are all peers.
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 8:47

2 Answers 2


If you don't get information/ input from these colleagues, request it several times very politely, also several times in writing, then escalate to your boss.

If you don't need to work with the colleagues don't care about them.

As you write yourself, it's not your task to change people. You don't need to like the people you are working with/ they don't need to like you. You just need to be able to work with each other.

It's a bit different if the people you are working with are very rude to you or bully you. Then it can be very difficult to decide whether the situation is severe enough to escalate. But this doesn't seem to be case here as far as I understand your post.


You aren't supposed to be friends with your colleagues. You just need to get your work done.

Also that you think they are pretentious is a highly subjective opinion that you would best quash as soon as you can. You can't do anything with it and it isn't helping you.

  • Stick to facts
  • Be professional
  • Document what you agreed on and what you accomplished
  • Stay quiet and get your work done most of the time
  • If you want to prod them, do it by asking them questions that express interest but freeze out their negativity:
    • “Are there also positive things that we haven't taken into account?”
    • "What does [other colleague] think?”
    • “I haven't kept up with X because I have been busy working.”
    • etc.
  • +1 exactly. You can shoot the breeze if you like but professionalism means staying calm, frosty and lucid in these situations. You don't have to change anyone's opinion or even pay lip service to it.
    – rath
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 16:36

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