How Can You Deal With a Coworker Who Undermines You?

How Can You Deal With a Coworker Who Undermines You?


Undermining is a really delicate and often neglected type of bullying.

Not like overt bullying or harassment, undermining is difficult to detect and pinpoint. On this publish, we’ll focus on the best way to determine coworkers who undermine you at work and the best way to defend in opposition to their corrosive actions.

Indicators {that a} coworker may very well be undermining you

  • They’re aggressive and should beat everybody.
  • As an alternative of working, they unfold workplace rumours and discontent in regards to the boss.
  • They decide others morally.
  • They act superior and provides orders to seniors.
  • They undermine you with “recommendations,” “recommendation,” “constructive suggestions,” or “backhanded compliments.”
  • Their physique language reveals contempt. In conferences, they seem unfocused or mocking.
  • They interrupt others to make their level, whether or not or not it is useful.
  • They attempt to plant adverse concepts in others’ minds.
  • You’re feeling insignificant, jealous, insecure, and threatened of their presence.

Somebody who constantly demeans others in a gaggle is probably going traumatized indirectly. The idea of “figuring out with the aggressor” might clarify their bullying conduct. This can be a coping mechanism that permits people to endure traumatic occasions. When people determine with the aggressor, they assume the aggressor’s function and to allow them to view themselves as highly effective and in cost. Your bullying colleague themselves might have been undermined, bullied, abused, or dominated up to now by a dad or mum, sibling, or controlling and abusive companion. As a coping mechanism, they could have internalized the persona of the underminer and now make the most of this internalized persona to achieve energy.

Acknowledge the hidden bullies

Some persons are bullies with out showing to be, and your coworker who undermines you might fall into this class. They could seem pleasant, form, and beneficiant at first look. They could additionally look like extraordinarily helpful. Nevertheless, you’re feeling small and powerless of their presence.

We should not disregard hidden bullies when our instinct tells us “one thing is off.” Many extremely delicate and intuitive people don’t naturally belief their interior voice as a result of they often understand and really feel issues others don’t. Others might have instructed them they’re “imagining issues” or criticized their observations. They could additionally perceive that their eager instinct and perceptiveness threaten others. They’ve due to this fact realized to muffle their interior voice and numb themselves. It takes observe to regain your instinct, however it’s potential. The secret is to look deeper and never merely concentrate on the floor that means of issues.

Group dynamics exist inside each group, partnership, and group. There are all the time energy struggles, the formation of allies, and tensions. Nevertheless, these underlying dynamics, which embody delicate undermining and gaslighting, are hardly ever mentioned brazenly. Suppose you permit your self to see issues from a extra perceptive vantage level. You could uncover {that a} hidden bully all the time tries to show his or her superiority in underhanded methods. As an example, they could “unintentionally” reveal their {qualifications} or present you an image on their cellular phone. These methods, whether or not acutely aware or unconscious, diminish your shallowness. Your coworker might not notice they’re undermining you, however their actions talk, “I’m superior to you,” or “I possess gadgets that you don’t.”

It’s essential to acknowledge that issues should not all the time what they look like on the floor. With some “recommendation,” “suggestion,” or “useful criticism,” an undermining coworker could also be subtly conveying that they’re superior to you. You alone can decide this by evaluating the frequency and consistency of the particular person’s behaviour and the way you’re feeling of their presence.

Tips on how to deal with undermining

If a colleague undermines you, take motion. You possibly can speak to your boss or human sources consultant — or face the particular person instantly. Nevertheless, relying on the context, these methods aren’t all the time efficient or sensible. Among the following psychological methods can be utilized in any scenario.

1. Reestablish Your Relationship with Anger. Your relationship with anger is essential when coping with an undermining coworker. When you’ve got a dysfunctional relationship with anger, it is going to be onerous to set wholesome boundaries and acknowledge violations.

Abuse, humiliation, and undermining trigger ache and rage. We should acknowledge, label, and let ourselves expertise and course of these emotions even when it’s disagreeable.

As an alternative of letting their anger be, individuals who have problem with anger usually flip it in opposition to themselves and drown in self-hatred, blame, and disgrace. When their anger is internalized, they could undergo from bodily signs resembling melancholy, low vitality, indigestion, and complications.

If you happen to can settle for and stay together with your anger when it arises, and in case you give your self a reputable outlet to vent it (e.g., by speaking to a buddy or therapist or permitting your self to specific your anger in a journal or interior dialogue), you’ll not discover pent-up irritability, thereby decreasing the chance of your anger exploding uncontrollably. Additionally, you’ll acknowledge that anger arising in you is an indication that others have violated your boundaries.

2. Develop a Contemporary Perspective. Think about your bully as a toddler. What might need occurred of their youth to make them so fragile that they may not belief themselves and as a substitute really feel they need to undermine others to really feel safe? Whom might they be imitating? The place did they purchase these behaviours? What’s their life-style? Who makes them really feel powerless and insignificant? Have they got a dominant companion? Are their dad and mom overly concerned? Think about their low shallowness. Do they cover a weak point? Possibly they bought a late begin in life or their work and are overcompensating.

These inquiries aren’t meant to excuse a bully’s behaviour. You by no means have to simply accept abuse or bullying, nor do it’s a must to sympathize with or forgive a bully. However these questions will provide help to keep in mind that their actions don’t have anything to do with you. You are a sufferer of their damaged reference to the world, and that is not your fault.

Bullies are glorious at showing sturdy, highly effective, and invulnerable, so their vulnerabilities are onerous to identify at first. Wanting again and looking out extra intently, we might even see their weak point and insecurity.


An undermining coworker might interact in such behaviour out of insecurity or a want to really feel highly effective, and it may be extremely detrimental to group dynamics. Assess the scenario and decide the best way to shield your self from this negativity. On a psychological degree, you’ll be able to handle a poisonous dynamic by evaluating your relationship with anger and adopting a broader perspective, amongst different methods.


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