I work for a small engineering company and so work with all of the engineers employed there. I get along well with all of them socially, and we often meet up after work. However, when at work, one of them often ignores me when I talk about technical issues. He refuses to listen to my suggestions, and recently he has taken to talking over me and ignoring my comments on certain aspects of project work.

When he first joined the company, I challenged him about it by forcing him to interact with me, and this worked a bit. Luckily, I haven't had to work one-on-one with him since he joined, but due to recent team changes I now have to work with him directly. I am in charge of the task we have been put to work on together, and he has already said he will spend some time re-doing work I have already done, despite my trying to convince him otherwise. The project has very tight time limits, and we can't afford for him to stop his own work so that he can do mine.

He's not nasty, and we get on perfectly well socially. However it's got to the point where I avoid talking about technical matters with him whenever possible because we can't have a productive discussion. He doesn't behave like this to any of the other engineers in the company.

So, my questions are:

  1. Should I confront him about his behaviour, despite the time pressure? If so, how can I do so tactfully?

  2. If I can't persuade him to change, how can I make sure we're productive when we have to work together?

  • possibly related: How can I keep myself from overstepping my authority with co-workers?
    – gnat
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 19:42
  • 2
    Is this true engineering? Or, pseudo engineering (like software development)? The difference is important because the former is based upon physical science, the latter based upon opinion and trends.
    – user45269
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 3:06
  • 1
    @Prinz: This is true engineering (it's not software development).
    – Tempest16
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 7:04
  • 1
    @Prinz In your opinion all professional software developers care more about trends and opionions, than measurable results/quality/safety/whatever? That's sad, but far from true. There's more software than the android apps, the 3000th shooter game, and so on. (and - omg - even your "true" engineers use tools than contain software)
    – deviantfan
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 9:29
  • Whose issue is it to solve? Is it the task of your colleague's then is it still or time that prevents it from being solved? Personally I wouldn't need advise from a (junior) coworker when time spend coaching him might be what stops me from finishing my own work
    – Batavia
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 13:10

1 Answer 1


I am in charge of the task we have been put to work on together

The way I interpret this statement is two-part:

  1. The success of the task directly reflects upon your performance
  2. You do not have the authority to direct (in the "boss" sense) your co-worker, only to attempt to influence and persuade him

The project has very tight time limits, and we can't afford for him to stop his own work so that he can do mine.

If that's true, then you can't afford to allow his preferences to jeopardize or derail the project because of the impact it has in your own performance. You should object overtly. Start by asking why he feels it important to redo completed work. Explain your concerns about the pace of the project and that you think your assigned deadlines are at risk.

If appealing to him proves to be fruitless, then object to the person who assigned you the project. Explain that your co-worker's actions are unnecessary and by wasting time performing work that is already done, he is jeopardizing the project's timeline and success. Avoid making it an issue of "my way" vs. "his way." Focus on the potential business impact. Ask your manager to intervene. If they choose to put an end to your co-workers redundant work, then the project can stay on track. And if not, then at least if the project isn't finished in time, your manager knows what the source of the problem is (your co-worker, not you) and can address it then.

  • 1
    +1 I would go as far as suggest to do the above in an email with the manager CC'd. You can justify that because the colleague refused to explain the reason why he's redoing work, and is unresponsive to the OP. Make it known, in other words, that this is a risk to the project, and that the OP has no control over it (due to uncooperative colleague)
    – rath
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 14:40

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