I am very social and extroverted, however, maybe because I have been a bully victim at school, I am easily sensitive to behaviors that reek of pushy and superior.

There are a number of situations where someone with a huge "stage" presence and air of superiority appears to talk down on you, laugh at you with a loud voice, try to sell to you something you know is wrong but they use body language to stop you from even answering. The majority of people with this attitude are in the sales and business development departments of our company and of our supplier companies.

Within my company, it's especially people who yell instead of talking, or laugh and say things without even giving me space to think of an answer. They say "Hey, set up a room for our meeting, I'm quite busy." and then walk away, without waiting for me, or forcing me to follow them.

How do I talk back to these people? How do I stand up to anyone who acts superior in business (even if they are not)?

Note none of these people are my formal superiors, but mostly lateral colleagues, seniors from other departments (especially sales and bizdev...) and external professionals trying to sell something or convince that their product didn't fail when indeed I had the evidence...

  • Is it your job to set up rooms for them, and they're not giving you adequate instructions (as well as being somewhat rude)? Or is this not your job, and they're asking you to do things that they should normally do for themselves? Nov 21, 2014 at 1:12
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    Not my job... this guy asking for the room is my top example of a sales department coworker who always "asks" for favors in a very commanding tone, not even listening for my answer.
    – RoyExp
    Nov 21, 2014 at 1:15
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    Simply ignore them. Do not do anything for them, do not look at or reply to them. Keep doing your work. Or you also start imitating them. Appear as if you are not at all bothered by them.
    – cartina
    Nov 21, 2014 at 7:47

3 Answers 3


Ask your manager how you should respond to these demands. If they say you can do so, the best response would be to simply ignore the request and let the boor deal with the room not being set up. If they walk away before getting an answer from you, it isn't your fault that they didn't hear you say "no".

  • Sorry for this but my manager is VERY hands-off in terms of these kind of things. He has told me several times it's up to me and I need to figure out how to communicate properly.
    – RoyExp
    Nov 21, 2014 at 1:38
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    If that's what he said, I believe you have been given permission -- and encouragement -- to say "no". Do so. You don't have to debate it, you don't have to chase them; it's their responsibility to find out whether you have accepted the request before they walk away.
    – keshlam
    Nov 21, 2014 at 1:39
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    I agree, just ignore the person if he runs off before even getting confirmation! Sooner or later he either quits "requesting" or better, asks you why you didn't act as his personal assistant - then you can calmly clarify your stance in the matter. Nov 21, 2014 at 7:18
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    I agree too. Usually this kind of person walks all over someone because they get away with it - when they stop getting away with it, either because you stand up to them or they find their 'orders' aren't being followed, they find an easier target. Good luck.
    – nurgle
    Nov 21, 2014 at 10:12

I simply ignore them. When they start to talk I turn around or start to chat with someone once they went though the first sentence, and slowly turn my back to them.

They want me to fix a room? Just ignore it. They ask you again? Just look at them as if they asked if they can strip naked and dance in the corridor and get back to what you were doing. If they speak to you just imagine them dancing naked in that corridor, smile and get back to work.

It is not that difficult to cross spades with them (quite entertaining sometimes) but why getting stressed? Just ignore them in a bored way.


If you can't say anything, immediately yell back "HEY! I am busy, too!" Personally, I'd look at him and tell him "You want something from me, you ASK! You don't order me around". And if he asks, of course, I say no. And I don't care what body language he uses to stop any discussion.

You seem to be intimidated by their act, which is exactly what they are counting on. It's OK to feel intimidated, it's not OK to let the fact that you are getting intimidated stop you from telling them off. I expect that if you are frustrated enough, you'll stand up to them on your own without needing any advice from us. You haven't reached that point yet but you are getting there.

  • But basically am I not being aggressive that way / counter-unprofessional? I mean, they can always say that they act and speak in a chilled and cool/relaxed way, whereas only I react aggressively.
    – RoyExp
    Nov 21, 2014 at 1:28
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    "No," or "Ask my manager whether I should do this and what I should delay in order to do it," spoken calmly, are perfectly reasonable answers -- assuming your manager agrees that this is not something sales is entitled to demand you do. Don't argue, just decline... and let them loose their cool.
    – keshlam
    Nov 21, 2014 at 1:33
  • They can say anything they want. Did the way they act sound chill, cool and relaxed to you? If it didn't, that's what you tell your manager if they complain to her. You have your own work to do and your own deadlines to meet and you are not their errand boy. Nor are you being salaried to be their errand boy. Nov 21, 2014 at 1:33

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