How to deal with my colleague who is very good, polite and respectful with me personally but when we are together in a group or with whole team, he is the first one to criticize or embarrass me.

We both software engineers work in one team and on same project. Also, he doesn't allow me to speak much in meetings with senior management of company and tries to dominate every aspect of work. We both are at same designation.

He is the first one to initiate jokes on me and interrupts when someone praises my work. It seems like he cant stand my appreciation.

One of my colleagues praised my hard work on a software delivery. He quickly interrupted him and said that I was helped a lot and that I didn't do anything special. I felt very bad at that time and even others felt it was rude.

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    Is this only with you, or does he pick on other coworkers? – DarkCygnus Aug 17 at 17:40
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    He only does this with me. I have no personal enemity with him. – Sunny Aug 17 at 17:46
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    I see :/ are you a recent hire? Or has he been working there more time than you? – DarkCygnus Aug 17 at 17:47
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    :) Im suffering this from 3 years. The problem is that he looks at me like a serious competition. A fool and weird man. Instead he should focus on his goals and rise in life. – Sunny Aug 17 at 17:51
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    3 years?!?! Whoa... have you taken any action already? – DarkCygnus Aug 17 at 17:52

How should deal with my colleague who shows jealousy and makes fool out of me?

Stop taking their crap.

I would suggest you go right back at him, but only with facts and in only a kind way. The person your are dealing with is either very insecure when it comes to you (or maybe in general) or they could just be an evil jerk. If you happen to be a female in this scenario, some men have a real hard time with women competing with them in the work force. At any rate three years is more than enough.

In any case, when something like that is said by anyone, kindly say something along the lines of, "Well if you remember correctly, I did take care of this part and that piece with no assistance". If they interrupt you immediately respond firmly but politely with "excuse me I was not finished responding to what you just said, which was not correct".

Again, the idea is to be nice as you can be while clearing up the facts. In my opinion, if you let the jerk walk all over you in public that perception is what people will remember.

If the kind but firm approach doesn't work, another option to consider is to discuss this with them one on one. Kindly but firmly lay out the facts, keep your emotions in check, and ask that they stop behaving unprofessionally.

If all else fails, get your manager involved. This type of person can be damaging to you and the company long term. Again -- only facts, and keep your emotions out of it.

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    You are right. People remember the perception they hear. I never cleared up the facts as I'm an introvert man and can't really argue with someone. – Sunny Aug 17 at 18:14
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    @Sunny Its tough, I am too, but at some point I wouldn't take peoples crap anymore and became less of an introvert... – Mister Positive Aug 17 at 18:16
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    I think this is not the best way to go: "Well if you remember correctly, I did take care of this part and that piece with no assistance." This responds within the frame he has set, is defensive, and is a losing move long term. Any defense has to come from a stronger position that shifts the frame somehow. Something like (calmly, mildly exasperated, like an older sister correcting a cheeky younger brother) "Joe, you and I know we both worked our asses off on that project. I have no clue what the hell you're talking about." Then turn to the other person and continue as if Joe is nothing. – CodeSeeker Aug 18 at 1:04
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    This is dangerous. The other guy is a bully. It is likely that the other gut will be far better at interpersonal off the cuff interactions than the OP. – bruglesco Aug 18 at 1:31

Seems that you have a two-face "friend" here.

My suggestion is that you try to relate yourself as little as possible with those kind of people. Limit to professional interactions, and don't fall for their "support" or politeness.

Have your achievements and breakthroughs documented somehow (paper, email, logs, etc.), and share them with your manager/boss often. If this person tries to deny such (or worse things) you have evidence to back you up.

Another positive aspect of documenting (AKA "Paper trail") is that if he continues to deny your work he will start to be perceived as deceptive and unprofessional. This will only go South for him.

I've known a few unfortunately, and they apparently are kind and nice to you, but they take any chance they can to throw dirt to your reputation or take credit of your efforts. Just, try not to be discouraged by these folks, as there are several others that are actually good people.

Perhaps this person is indeed jealous, or maybe even trying to make you feel bad and force you to leave. Don't give him the satisfaction of such :) and let your actions and achievements speak for themselves.


Edit: Based on comments, seems that this has been going on for 3 years (!)

If that is the case you should act now (I think you should have taken action a long time ago, but it's almost never too late). Talk to your manager and explain the situation you have been experiencing, preferably with examples and facts. Chances are your manager is already aware to some degree of this, but not that this is bothering you.

Meanwhile, keep piling your paper trail of your achievements and sharing them with your manager. In future meetings try to stand up and don't let him interrupt or deny your achievements. Refer them to your documented evidence if this happens.

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    thanks for your answer. I will document my achievements more carefully. You are right, there are people in workplace, who want to throw dirt at your reputation. They want to look great in eyes of management and save their job – Sunny Aug 17 at 18:09
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    @Sunny it's a good practice. Not only for your managers and colleagues to know that you are valuable member, but also for you, as you can then go back and quickly check or remember all the things you have contributed if you need to refactor or reuse them. And yes, there are all kinds of people and one should be ready to deal with them. Just, remember to keep it professional and polite, so you don't fall to the same thing this person is doing – DarkCygnus Aug 17 at 18:10
  • when you said "two-faced" friend, then I'm really scared of such people . As they try to cut the wire on which you are walking, while assuring you that they will save you. In office, you should have a clean heart. – Sunny Aug 17 at 18:20
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    @ZaxLofful in that scenario you describe (which hopefully isn't this one, as OP hasn't indicated if manager is the same), I also fear the only option is to find a job elsewhere where the company culture is better and colleagues don't try to stab you on the back – DarkCygnus Aug 17 at 22:28
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    @ZaxLofful yikes :/ sorry to hear that. If that is your situation, and your colleague already has you boss "on his side", and you have exhausted all other alternatives, perhaps what's best for you is to endure this while you seek a new job elsewhere, and change as soon as you can. You can also consider asking a question of your own if you want advice :) I am sure many other users will also have something to say to your situation. Feel free to ping me on chat if you want to discuss how to phrase such question. – DarkCygnus Aug 17 at 22:33

The Solution: Get Out Of His Frame

You can completely solve the problem by learning how to respond assertively and calmly, and with determination acting independently of him, all the while NOT falling into the "frame" of his accusations or attempts at domination and control.

Disclaimer: I make some assumptions about the dynamics that are going on for you. These assumptions could be invalid or sound like I am coming from an arrogant perspective. I beg you to use the "shopping cart" method: you only put in your shopping cart the things I say that you like and think can help you. The rest? It simply doesn't apply and isn't about you. Is that a bad deal? If not, keep reading. For what it's worth, why do you think I know about these resources—obviously it's because I have needed them myself. So I'm in no position to judge anyone!

Here are my best recommendations for how to do that:

  1. Go watch all the videos you can on how to stop communicating low social status to others and start communicating high social status. Start with those on the Charisma Matrix YouTube channel. Watch the ones that interest you. Watch related videos that interest you. (Ignore the videos that channel has about being more interesting to women. It doesn't matter that he talks about that, too—the rest will apply to you.)

  2. Get the audio book "Never Split The Difference" by Chris Voss. You can get it for free if you have never had Audible, by starting a new Audible trial (make sure you put an item in your calendar to cancel the trial before you get charged the next month—and you don't need the trial running to listen to the book). My advice to get the audio book instead of the printed book is very deliberate—you need to hear that voice saying all the things. Listen to the book twice.

  3. Search for resources such as YouTube videos, or self-help books, on how to stop being a people pleaser. If you don't think this applies to you, that is okay, you can still use the techniques that a people pleaser would use to change the results you're getting.

I promise you that these resources will make an incredible difference in your life: IF you are ready to learn them, and you invest time, energy, thought, and a little courage into trying them out, with the determination to not let some friction and failures in the beginning stop you from your journey.

With these techniques, for the most part you will not be addressing him directly about the content of his slights. That is because it is low status to be defensive, and it is a losing game to directly defend yourself publicly from his individual accusations. Your defense has to come from another source. Specifically, let's say he says "I had to teach it all to you" and you say "you did not have to teach it all to me" then you have lost, because you were forced to respond within the frame of his accusation. There is always a way to reframe it so that you are not playing the game.

Think of reframing this way: imagine that he sets up a chess board and puts all the pieces down where he wants. He makes you sit down across from him and then makes a move that puts your king in check. You move your king away from check. Then you both get up and walk away. Did you win anything? No, you did not. You were forced to defend yourself at a game you didn't ask to play. Instead, you have to find a way to not play the game, or to change the rules, or to switch seats, or to put another chess board underneath his so that when he makes his move, it clearly affects the lower board in a way advantageous to you. Does that make sense? Learn to stop playing his game.

I'll explain a little below some techniques that I am mostly getting from the above resources and also some personal experience in the past. Note that I'm going to call your rude coworker Joe to make it easier.

Stopping You From Speaking

How does he stop you from speaking? It is probably interrupting you, right? How else could he stop you? So don't let him interrupt. Reserve something very important or insightful to say until the very end of the meeting, then say it. If he tries to interrupt try the following:

  1. Ignore him and keep talking. Right over him. Look at the person who you are talking to (not him), and turn your body toward the management member. Do not turn your body toward the rude person. If anything, turn your body away from him a little. Don't acknowledge his presence. If you want to, you can optionally hold up a hand in his direction like you are saying "stop" or "just a minute", but don't look at him.
  2. Or, give him a glance when he interrupts, say "stay with me", and turn back and continue talking. Do this every time he interrupts like you are a crazy monotonous robot that has ONLY one, and instant, response to being interrupted.
  3. Or, you can directly address the interruption. "Joe, do you mind, I'm saying something to Steven here and I think he would like to hear me out. Would you like to hear me out, Steven?"
  4. Or use a technique from the Charisma Matrix channel. Turn toward him after he has interrupted and started saying whatever it is, and say his name over and over until he lets you talk "Joe. Joe. Joe. Joe. Joe. Joe. Joe." then when he stops, pick out some aspect of his words that you can agree with and say, "I agree with you. This project is too important to trust to contractors. That's actually what I was going to bring up." Then turn back to the other person and start saying what Joe was just saying, but add more detail and go farther into your information. Every time he interrupts, do the same thing and take over his point as your own.

Of the most importance here, though: you MUST NOT GET UPSET OR ANGRY. Speak in a low tone of voice with your inflection falling at the end. Do not speak in a high pitch or let your inflection rise, like you are asking a question. Every word you say with both your content to the other person and your statements to Joe must sound like you are royalty or a drug lord—absolutely secure in your position and there's no reason to get upset. You are not flustered by interruptions. You are not bothered by embarrassing statements. He is a bug. Why do you care what a bug says? He is a worm on the floor. Can a worm make you feel embarrassed? No it cannot. It can only wriggle and squirm and try to find something nasty to eat.

Dominating Every Aspect Of Your Work

Flatly: don't let him. Write down your reasons and information on paper. Make it objective. Practice your statements. Reject his ideas when they don't make sense. Stop thinking like you are a software engineer, and imagine that you are now the supervisor of yourself, almost a manager-level employee, and your job isn't to do the work that he or other people hand you. Your new job is to start acting like a business owner, a stakeholder in the very business itself. You are now a project manager, a team lead, a software designer, a meeting designer, a customer, an efficiency expert, or whatever other roles help you stop thinking of your job as mere software development.

Of course, you always have your "employee" at your disposal: you, the software developer, who knows a lot of stuff and is good at your job and can Get Things Done... but not just Things, Things That Matter to the Business. You, the project manager, can start directing that awesome developer to do the right things. You can start pushing back on a project by saying "this isn't the right thing to build, we should do this instead as it matters more to the business" or "why are we even doing this? Who is the actual customer here?" or "there's no way this project will take only 6 weeks, either we have to cut features or we need more time or resources."

When you start thinking of your job this way, and yourself this way, his control of you will start to fade away. You will wonder how you ever thought him a threat or followed his ideas blindly or let him dictate your work. Listen to Software Engineering Radio episode 333 and episode 317, and really think about how the whole software development process should work. What are you really doing? Can you learn a new way? As you slip into a different way of thinking about your work, Joe will just fall by the wayside.

One way to think of this is that you are going to start acting like God. Not in a religious sense, but in a sense that you aren't subject to anyone else to tell you who you ought to be, and no one else can possibly criticize you. You are the only one who can criticize you, and you might accept ideas from other people, or projects from your boss, but you are running the show now. It may be a one-woman show, but it's your show, and if you know you are good, no one can stop you.

Initiating Jokes on You

This may be the hardest part, but you need to start laughing at the jokes and brushing them off. You've unfortunately gotten trapped in a dynamic where he knows you don't enjoy the jokes, so every time he does another one, and he and others can see you are discomfited or embarrassed, he pushes you down socially and lifts himself up socially. This has to stop. If you are God, though, why would you feel embarrassed? You know who you are!

  • Start by praising him for his jokes. "Joe, you really did a good one on me that time. Did you see how I jumped? What a great joke!" Change your thinking about the jokes. Your new goal is to learn to see his jokes as a puzzle that your smart software developer mind can solve.

  • Try making some jokes on him. Or on other team members. Do NOT get petty or angry or spiteful. They have to be funny. He has to laugh, too.

  • Get some advice from trusted wise friends on how to laugh at his jokes, even if they seem embarrassing. Perhaps you could seek out therapy or counseling for this aspect. It is important for you to find a way to feel secure enough inside that his jokes don't bother you any more, then they will stop.

  • Perhaps this anti-bullying video by Brooks Gibbs or this one could be helpful for you to understand how your distress is what fuels Joe's actions. There's a different way that puts you in charge!

He Can't Stand Your Appreciation

Above I already spoke about interrupting, but now if he's interrupting someone else who's praising you, then try these:

  1. Pam starts praising you. Joe interrupts. Try one or all of the things listed above to stop him, then, "Joe, I'd really like to hear what Pam has to say. Do you need to say something important right now that really can't wait until she finishes?"

  2. "You're so right, Joe, I almost do nothing around here. You're such a better software developer than I am. The learning is all on my side and the knowledge transfer is all on your side! I only hope I can be as good as you are some day. It's absolutely true. You did all the special work on this project and I just did the unimportant parts. Everyone knows you're the real brains in our team. But I'd like to hear what Pam has to say, anyway. Pam?" You have to say this with no anger, bitterness, or other negative emotions in your body and your voice. It has to sound like you really mean it. If you are careful not to be seen, you can give your praiser (Pam?) a wink. Act like God!

In Closing

You can do this. You can learn and grow. Changing the situation is possible, but the only person you have control over is you. So change you! Dig into the resources I've shared, or other resources that you seek out and find. Good luck in your journey.

  • Good, thorough answer. We also have Interpersonal SE site where more, well... Interpersonal things are suggested regarding social interactions – DarkCygnus Aug 18 at 1:38
  • Hi @DarkCygnus Haha! While it's true that I did forget which SE site I was on, I still think my answer has some value. Ultimately, perhaps it's just a matter of opinion whether the OPs issue is an interpersonal one or a workplace one. And, does it have to be one or the other? So often in life, workplace issues do come down to interpersonal skills. If my answer actually helps the asker in her workplace, is it still a poor answer for this site because it doesn't use the desired workplace-y style? – CodeSeeker Aug 18 at 2:04
  • Yeah. I was just saying that you could also mention IPS as an option :) not that this Is off topic, sorry – DarkCygnus Aug 18 at 2:36

Do your best to tolerate and cope with this behavior from your colleague.

It is very unfortunate that your colleague is acting this way. But as you said your other coworkers notice this behavior and think it is rude. For them you need to do nothing as they are already on your side. And if your coworkers notice it then your manager and leads are probably noticing it too.

Chances are they appreciate you not creating more conflict over this. If you feel that you just take some action, then I would suggest you talk over this issue with your manager and ask them how they would like to see you handle it.

Just be yourself (try to stay calm and polite). The people around will see and slowly realize that it is your team member who is jealous and not you who are like whatever he tries to make you look. Just give them a slightly sympathetic/pitying smile when he starts going and they will get the message.

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    OP indicated this has been going on for 3 years. Under that light, how would you adapt your proposed approach? – DarkCygnus Aug 17 at 22:31
  • @DarkCygnus: Why would the approach need adaptation? It seems to me it must be a management failure at that point. – mathreadler Aug 17 at 22:48
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    Because OP has already been themselves for 3 years now and this Colleague still picks on them. Seems that OP has waited enough, and also more than enough time for other coworkers to notice this. I do think your approach has it's merit, but after 3 years I'd say other means are needed. – DarkCygnus Aug 17 at 22:55
  • Sometimes you need to be more direct and stand up for yourself, but always politely and professionally. This is especially true if your boss does not pick up subtle hints so easily – Katie S Aug 17 at 23:11
  • If he doesn't care or maybe just slightly pities his coworker then why change anything? Apparently it is not too big a problem for the work for some manager to try and do anything about it. – mathreadler Aug 17 at 23:11

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