Dealing with Vindictive Coworkers

I was chatting with a client the other day as to how things were going in their job – the good, the bad, the ugly. Overall, they were feeling ownership of their work as well as accomplished (the good). This person then expressed uncertainty over learning that their supervisor was leaving at the end of the week; they weren’t exactly sure the circumstances or reason for the departure but it was creating some anxiety and worry over the changes that would result (the bad).

As she discussed her concerns, she mentioned that this supervisor was not effective, more in the way she lead – controlling, demanding, uncertain at times. Then, she related that the resignation was probably due to one – or more – of her fellow coworkers who did not like this supervisor so they probably had something to do with this (the ugly).

As I explored this issue, my client felt appalled, no – downright disgusted – at the behaviors of these few individuals and their level of ‘meanness’ in going behind this person’s back and doing things that put them in a bad light. Have you ever faced a situation like this? How did it affect you and your work performance? Did you know how to handle it?

We don’t control other people or their actions – we only control ours. Dealing with vindictive coworkers can be challenging at best if you are around it as often they assume a power role in some way. They take risks to challenge and do it arrogantly; if the target is not confident or doesn’t like conflict then they are more likely to take a fall at the hands of these bullies. Watching this occur can impact you in ways you might not be aware of: worry it will happen to you, anxiety, feeling unfocused, or finding yourself aligning with them (so they don’t attack you).

The only way to deal with this is to not give in to the drama. Instead, place your focus on your work and your actions; by doing so, you will feel less stress while feeling more empowered by the good work you are doing. When these types of people find that they don’t have an ‘audience’ they tend to stop their bad behavior or they leave. Whatever they do is theirs to own not yours, so don’t allow a vindictive coworker to invade your space – be true to who you are and what you value. The other stuff tends to work out as it should.


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