In the past few weeks I have witnessed a bad behavior from a coworker of mine. He is a Mid-Junior developer and I'm a senior developer.

I will try to give you some examples, being as unbiased as possible:

  • recently we were given some deadlines, I completed all of them except one one small thing because I wanted to discuss that with my manager. He did less than half the things assigned to him. When questioned by the boss he immediately pointed out that I did not complete my deadlines too.

  • When a bug is found and we are still trying to understand what caused it, he always immediately announces that it's my fault and I did something wrong. This may or may not be the case, but when he claims that it is completely without any proof. I asked why he said that in some occasions and his answers were along the line "you worked on that last, didn't you??". Maybe true, maybe false, but still...

  • he arrived at the company after me (I hired him) and when there is some problem with our software he always tries to claim immediately as a possible reason that it's because of the technologies (programming languages, etc) I chose for the project. This is often obviously untrue, choosing a different set of technologies may have given us different disadvantages.

  • When we split up the job and set the deadlines he always claims that I choose the super-easy tasks and he got the difficult ones. In my opinion, it is almost the opposite and to prove the point I casually offered him several times the chance to switch the task but he has always refused.

  • I had to leave work earlier 2 days in a row because of personal reason. The second day while I was packing my stuff he almost shout to the whole office that I was slacking off again. Just for the sake of information, I do a lot of overtime.

  • In some occasions he claimed some fake statistics. For instances we were with some coworkers and he said "hey I took a look the other day and despite been arrived here just a few months ago, I added and removed the same amount of line you added and removed in 2 years". We had no access to the web so I just answered that it was not a really important measure but that anyway it was quite unlikely in my opinion. I checked that in the afternoon and it was totally false.

I'm not sure if the examples give you enough depth of knowledge here, but in generally when talking about anything, he generally has this behavior and claims that if I did something it was just super-easy, just luck, unimportant or it's going to break soon anyway.

Now sometimes does these things when I'm present and I generally try to answer in a firm and polite tone that he is wrong. In other occasions I heard him doing this when I was not present and unable to answer in any way.

I am fairly well respected at work, but after a few occasions I'm starting to think that some people believe him. I fear that this thing may become an issue in the future.

What is the proper reaction here? I tried to answer these things point by point when they happen, but it looks like half of his job is bad-mouthing me and trying to be always alert about what he is saying is starting to become difficult and tiring for me. Nothing he is saying by itself is so bad to warrant any strong action like talking with HR I think.

Please, advice!

EDIT: I add three details:

  • I'm not a direct manager to this person

  • He doesn't have this behavior with other coworkers

  • He gets along very well with our boss.


3 Answers 3


In the last weeks I have witnessed a very bad behavior from a coworker of mine

I would advise talking to your coworker in private. If your working relationship had been fine before, then there may have been some change that has sparked his behaviour.

Recently we were given some deadlines, I completed all of them except one small thing because I wanted to discuss that with my manager

As well as having a conversation with your colleague, have a private conversation with your boss to raise your concerns.

It sounds like you have kept some form of log, which is useful. If you can present objectively to your boss that your colleague is causing problems, and have evidence of how this is impacting the company (e.g. reduced efficiency), then your boss will take note.

Mention to them that you are having a private conversation with your colleague so that you are demonstrating you are trying to solve the problem, rather than just presenting it to your manager.

I am fairly well respected at work, but after a few occasions I'm starting to think that some people believe him

I wouldn't worry too much about this. Your colleague is likely to be causing more damage to their own reputation than to yours. I would never take the unprofessional complaints of a junior about a senior seriously.

Nothing he is saying by itself is so bad to warrant any strong action like talking with HR I think

The HR policies I've seen have a clear hierarchy of:

  1. Informally try to resolve the problem yourself
  2. If that fails, escalate it to your manager
  3. If that fails, escalate it to HR
  4. Only escalate straight to HR for serious policy breaches, e.g. sexual harassment

Your situation may have to be escalated to HR, as it can be seen as workplace bullying. But go through steps 1 and 2 first.


You seem to have to deal with a real brat , and there's not a lot of things to do in this situation.

You're not his manager , you can't chose to fire him because of his behaviour but you're actually too nice when you answer him , which lets him think he can keep doin doing it. (Which he does) You have to remind him who you are , prove him you are his superior due to your experience. Play his game , better than he does. Stop giving him the choice. He complains about your tasks being easier ? Give them to him , and take his tasks , without giving him choice.

He shouts to the office earlier due to personal reasons ? Ask him about his overtime , and how you're doing much more than him.

He speaks about statistics ? Nice , this one is an easy to deal with one. Asks for the statistics , and if he can't show them ask him to shut up until he has any proofs about what he's talking about.

I cold give you many other ways to deal with him , but you have to understand that you don't have to be polite to him. Always be ready to challenge him , about everything. He'll soon prove to everybody how much of an arrogant jackass he is.

There's a reason for ppl to respect seniors (even if that's just a work title). They have more experience and knowledge than we do. Make a use of this to remind him why he should respect you.

  • Generally speaking I think your suggestions are really good. The problem here is that he is doing the things I wrote in a very light-hearted way, not a snarky way. Been too confrontational ("shut up until you have proofs") would make me appear unsure about myself in my opinion and against the office morale. Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 14:36
  • @heapOverflow I know it's not gonna be an easy one , smart boss-loved brats are the worsts. What you have to do there is not go all in confrontational mode. Just put him back to where he belongs , without being rude or impolite. You have to be at the edge of all of this , be strict , be smart , be faultless. He seems to have your boss on "his side" so you don't want to offer him new ways to put you in bad light. You "just" have to remind him in a strict and professional way who you are , and why YOU are the senior here. (once again , I know it'll be hard to do)
    – Rolexel
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 8:15
  • @heapOverflow So here it wouldn't be "shut up until you have proofs" but more smth like "could you please provide any evidence of it before implying such a thing ? No ? Then I would appreciate if you could avoid to put me in such a bad light for free."
    – Rolexel
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 8:19
  • It's sneaky but it's the best way to clean any doubt ppl could have about you thx to him , to put him back where he belongs , and to make you gain confidence so this case won't ever happen again
    – Rolexel
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 8:20

I disagree with WorkerWithoutACause's answer. It is not your job to address such misbehavior. I also think you are right to be concerned with your reputation among your coworkers; if your organization's culture is one that focuses on "getting along" over performance and facts, you may well find yourself shunned and mistreated by others if he plants enough seeds of resentment against you.

Your coworker has already shown he has no compunction whatsoever about lying. If you were to talk to him in private he may use it to claim you have bullied him and make false statements about what went on in the private meeting.

You have stated that he has a very good relationship with your boss. Given this, I would ask for a meeting with HR and your boss (at the same time) and lay out documented facts. I suggest you emphasize that your are trying to add value to the company (in your day to day work) and you can not see how his behavior does anything except sew unrest.

Your boss may not be aware of the back-stabber's behavior towards you. If you have the meeting with your boss and HR, your boss will undeniably be aware of his perfidy.

This being said, you need to be prepared for HR and your boss to say, "We expect you to work it out with him." If they do, then you need to make sure facts are well known in your organization. Call him out, publicly, and demonstrate his dishonesty. If it gets to this point, it's not going to end well for one of you and you need to be ready to find a better place to work.

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