Strategies for Dealing with an Entitled Coworker - American Society of Employers - Susan Chance

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Strategies for Dealing with an Entitled Coworker

Entitled is a word that we hear a lot these days. It is often thrown around casually to describe groups of people and individuals even when not necessarily a fair assessment. But have you ever had to work with people who are truly entitled? They could be a boss, co-worker, or perhaps a vendor or supplier.

How do you identify entitled people in the workplace? A psychology expert lists the following five phrases that entitled people use:

  1. “This feedback is insulting.” This and other feedback is taken as a personal attack because the entitled person believes they can do no wrong.
  2. “My ideas are valuable and always merit serious consideration.” Entitled people believe they bring “exceptional value” and are not willing to see that their ideas may need some work or may not be the best.
  3. “Their success comes at the expense of my own.” Entitled, or selfish people don’t see how helping others is of any value and think that other people are given special treatment when they have a win at work.
  4. “Why are you always trying to control me?” Have you ever tried to give instruction to an entitled person? They don’t like to be given instructions and take them as mere suggestions.
  5. “You’re being disrespectful by not agreeing with me.” Entitled people are not interested in hearing other opinions or learning from another person. I am sure we have all dealt with a know-it-all at work.

So, how do you deal with the entitled in the workplace?

The easiest way is to avoid or ignore them, however, if you work with the entitled person or they are the boss, avoidance may not be possible. That being said, not giving attention to the person when they are creating drama can help a great deal. These people want attention and bad attention is better than no attention. There is no reward for them if you do not give them attention.

Stand up for yourself. This must be done in a professional manner, but also be firm. Set appropriate boundaries. Maybe the entitled person always wants to complain about a co-worker. Ask them if they have talked directly to the person with whom they are having an issue. If not, and if they feel they can’t talk to that person, advise them to speak with their own boss or a human resources representative. Don’t allow them to make you their gossip buddy.

Maybe that person wants to be the boss and is trying to get you to do their work. If the person is not your boss, take a good look at the situation. Is the task something with which you can help? If so, let them know when you are available and to what extent you can help. If you can’t, let them know you are working on deadlines and have to complete your work.

When problematic situations arise, stick to the facts. It may not always be easy, but stay calm and don’t let emotion get in the way. Going outside of the facts and letting emotion take over can escalate a situation. 

If the entitled person is a complainer, ask for their input on how to improve a task or situation. Get them thinking about what they want or are demanding, and they may realize their demands are not practical or achievable in the way they want. This can help the person see they have to work with you as a team to achieve the end goal.

It can stretch our professional muscles, but it is possible to work with the entitled in most cases.




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