Kool Derby

You can’t escape the overbearing, conceited, and arrogant co-worker. There is at least one in every department. You can spot them from a mile away. They have every right answer, and they have a ridiculous desire to be the center of attention. In some cases, they have a certain skill or knowledge base that provides a level of uniqueness. Of course, they will talk non-stop about that ability because that makes them feel important.

Over the years, I have learned several approaches to working with overbearing fellow employees – and here they are:

#1: Have a concrete agenda for meetings involving these individuals.

People who are pompous and dominating prefer meetings that have open agendas. They want to have the floor, and a non-existent set of discussion points allows them to control the meeting. Therefore, you must have an agenda and assigned experts who are in charge of the particular topics. Of course, make sure you have hard start and end times to meetings. It’s critical that everyone understands the ground rules for meetings.

#2: Focus on the content provided by overbearing co-workers, and not their personality.

It is easy to lose focus on what is important when someone is showing-off. However, as a professional, you must look for the important information contained in the midst of the fluff. In other words, concentrate on what the individual is saying, and not on how he is communicating it.


“I’ve been working here for 10 years, and I have been able to maintain excellent standards because of the training I’ve taken. I produce excellent results because my skills are perfect for this position. The last guy who had this job was incompetent. It took someone like me to meet the quality standards required by the industry. I have no idea where this company would be without me in this position!”


This employee has a clear idea regarding industry expectations, and likely works in a department in which others are contributing equally to meet the quality standards.

Instead of ignoring the conceited employee, think about what can be learned. He is likely following a process that can be replicated in a different department. Keeping an open mind will improve the lessons learned process.

#3: Avoid complaining about the overbearing employee.

If this person has any longevity in the company, it’s highly probable the leadership team has him on the radar. For that reason, it’s best to avoid lodging a complaint. If you do, you are no different from the other countless victims who have gone before you.

The best approach is to show how you are working with Mr. Arrogant. In fact, your ability to lead people, especially those who are difficult to manage, makes you an effective leader. In essence, the overbearing co-worker has provided you with the opportunity to differentiate yourself from others.

The lesson here is that working with overbearing, conceited, and arrogant people is part of doing business. For you to climb the corporate ladder, it’s imperative to develop the leadership skills to ensure everyone is moving to the same target, regardless of their personality types.