Socializing is a part of life, especially when it comes to professional life. There will be out of office meetings to attend, luncheons, clients to entertain, networking events, and company retreats. While you always hope that everyone behaves in a professional and courteous manner, there will be those one or two people who are just plain rude.
In a work-related atmosphere, responding can be tricky. You do not want to lecture associates of your boss or a client who provides big business. On the other hand, sitting there and listening as they dish out inappropriate comments or behave disrespectfully may not feel comfortable.
First, do not lose your cool. Lashing out will only reflect negatively on your image. Bringing up coherent counter points is one thing, but going on a verbal tirade against that person may ironically be considered just as rude. Rather, jokingly respond to the person to lighten up the mood, or give factual examples to refute their statements.
Next, know that it’s not personal. This person is either unaware they are coming off as rude or simply want to feel superior to everyone else. If the individual only acts rude in your presence, they may feel threatened by you, but there’s still no reason to blame yourself. Chances are, altering the way you act around them is not going to make them any more pleasant.
If the behavior is something that needs to be addressed, confront the person. If possible, do it privately, rationally, and explain why such behavior has a negative impact on the organization or working relationship. It’s possible the offender did not realize the implications of what they said. In situations where you confront another employee, be sure to consider the outcomes and how it may influence your own career.
Excuse yourself. If the comments or behavior is coming from someone in a superior position than yourself, you may want to refrain from being in the same space. When the opportunity arises, excuse yourself for the bathroom, to say hi to another colleague, or to head out for the night. In cases where leaving is not an option, refrain from responding or encouraging the behavior.
As you get more experience in the workforce, you’ll realize most companies have these types of employees. Instead of having it influence your own position, learn how to deal with it professionally. As you climb the corporate ladder, you will have more authority to eliminate this behavior in those who are subordinate to you.