Have you ever been insulted by a coworker? It’s not uncommon – even in the nicest, most harmonious workplace. For instance, you may have experienced one or more of the following:

  • You’re leading a meeting and one of the attendees won’t stop messing with her phone.
  • You’re making an important point when your coworker interrupts you and then dominates the conversation.
  • Your coworker keeps cancelling and rescheduling a meeting without giving a lot of thought to your schedule or time.
  • One of your coworkers arranges a get-together but forgets to invite you. (Or maybe he purposely didn’t invite you? Even worse!)

These slights and snubs can be really hurtful, and you might not know how to react. So what should you do if you’re insulted at work? Here are a few good options.

If the insult was fairly minor and it’s not a common occurrence:

  • Do nothing – If your coworker doesn’t usually insult you, or if the insult was pretty innocuous, it’s probably best to just let it go.
  • Try to view the event from the other person’s perspective – Maybe your insulting coworker was having a bad day or is really stressed out? It’s not really an excuse for bad behavior, but it might help to explain it. And it’s even more reason why you shouldn’t take it personally.
  • Talk to a friend – If you’re still feeling upset, talk to a friend about it and ask for feedback. Getting a friend’s perspective might help you to view the event in a new way. At the very least, it will probably help to alleviate your stress.

If the insult was significant and very upsetting:

  • Talk to the person CALMLY – Have a one-on-one conversation with the person who insulted you, but don’t get angry. Be calm and reasonable. Talk to the person about what happened and how you felt about it.
  • Listen – Allow the other person to respond and listen to what he or she has to say. There are two sides to every story. So try to be open to the other person’s perspective.
  • Talk, don’t type – Have this conversation face-to-face or over the phone. Don’t do it over email or via texts. With emails and texts, the risk of miscommunication is too great.


Malugani, M. (n.d.). Seven tips for dealing with office insults. Monster. Retrieved from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/workplace-behavior-snubs-insults