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12 Signs Your Coworker Is Threatened By You

Two coworkers looking to opposite sides

Have you ever wondered about the signs your coworker is threatened by you?

You’ve likely had at least one coworker in your career who was just a little bit, well, not-so-great. They might have been a bully or even total lunatics, but they weren’t necessarily a threat. On the other hand, maybe you’ve had one of those coworkers who weren’t quite so friendly either.

No matter how nice they seemed initially, there was always something about them that made you think twice before sharing your opinions. And it happens again — and again and again and again. Either way, the fact is that most people aren’t exactly friendly toward coworkers who don’t fit into their workspace or work style.

There are plenty of reasons for this: After all, having to spend time with someone every day can make anyone feel threatened or uncomfortable. If you suspect that your coworker feels threatened by you, read on for some insider tips about why this might be happening.

The Signs Your Coworker Is Threatened By You

1) Cross Arms When You Talk To Them

The simple act of crossing your arms can make someone looks threatened. Either they don’t understand what you’re talking about, or they hope not to be part of the conversation.

Crossed arms can be seen as one of the signs your coworker is threatened by you
The simple act of crossing your arms can make someone looks threatened

If your coworker has crossed their arms while talking to you, it might mean they don’t want to talk about the issue. Giving up power is difficult for anyone. So if they have crossed their arms while talking to you, it might make them feel more comfortable and protected with the situation.

2) Spread Rumors About You

If you and your coworker have serious personalities clashing, it’s not uncommon for them to spread rumors about you.

These can range from silly rumors like “she doesn’t like her boss,” to serious rumors like “I think she is accepting bribery from a vendor.” People who are uncomfortable or threatened by you might spread these rumors because they see this as a way of hurting you.

3) Change In Facial Expression When You Are Around

When your coworker looks at you, they might experience a change in their facial expression. This could be because they are uncomfortable with the idea of working with you or because just don’t trust you.

Either way, the fact that they are looking at you differently can make them feel threatened and insecure. They might also become rude when speaking to you.

4) Avoid You

Sometimes if you have a coworker that feels threatened by you, it’s because they simply don’t respect you. Maybe your work ethic is just too impressive for them to handle.

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Whatever the reason, when someone feels that their authority or status is threatened by someone else, they may try to undermine that person’s sense of value by avoiding it.

5) Ignore Your Presence When You’re Around

Most of the time, you’re not a threat to someone when they see you in person.

You might not even be aware that your presence is making others around you feel threatened. But if you have a coworker who doesn’t like you, chances are that no matter how casual your interaction is, it still makes them uncomfortable.

If this sounds like your situation, step away from the conversation and give it some space before trying again.

6) Don’t Do Eye Contact

Eye contact is a natural instinct, and it’s one of the easiest ways to communicate with someone. It also shows you’re interested and listening to what the other person is saying.

Two people avoiding eye contact, which is one of the signs your coworker is threatened by you
Avoiding eye contact is one of the signs your coworker is threatened by you.

If your coworker doesn’t want to look at you, it may be a sign of avoiding you for some reason. Generally, when someone feels insecure about a topic, it’s easier not to make eye contact with you.

7) Get Credits For Your Accomplishments Or Ideas

Employees who feel threatened by their coworkers feel their ideas or accomplishments are being ignored.

They might not mind working with a particular coworker, but they want all credit for the work.

If you feel your coworker doesn’t see your hard work, try praising them when you can. Show them that you appreciate what they do and value their input in the workplace.

8) Don’t Share Knowledge

One of the most obvious signs your coworker is threatened by you is that they don’t share knowledge with you.

If your coworker brings up topics related to their job and expects you to know what they are, this is a sign that they might feel threatened.

For example, let’s say you’re in a group project. Your coworker John spends the whole time talking about his job and how great he is at it. However, he won’t hand them over when presenting tasks to you.

He tells you you’re not ready for it and you would need more training to start. He doesn’t offer training. In the following week, John tells you that he doesn’t think you would be able because you haven’t managed such a big budget, and it requires more knowledge. He schedules training for the following week. In the next week, he cancels the training saying he is busy.

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In this scenario, you could assume your coworker doesn’t want to share all the information needed for the project to move on.

9) Exercise Unauthorized Power Over You

If your coworker constantly asks you for things without actually being your boss, it could be a sign that your skills threaten him.

It can be noticed when he is continually trying to micromanage you or control what you do. It can happen because he feels he is not as competent as you and is worried you will outshine him.

He may be putting you down or making snide comments about your work. Or he may try to make himself feel better by making you feel inferior, so pay attention to how he speaks to you and see if there is a negative behavior pattern.

If your coworker seems to be constantly trying to one-up you or show off his own skills, it could be because he feels threatened by your abilities.

10) Over Compliment You

When someone compliments you, it can be easy to go overboard in the other direction.

You might be over-complimenting them, too. It could just be your personality type that makes this happen, or it could also be that they’re being a little too nosey about your work.

Of course, it’s never good to lie or mislead people. But If you suspect that your coworker is trying to pull the wool over your eyes with their compliments, make sure you know what’s going on.

11) Constantly Disagree

This is one of the classic signs your coworker is threatened by you. It’s not uncommon for people to disagree with coworkers and even dislike certain decisions. However, when the disagreement lasts for weeks or months on end, it becomes clear that someone is feeling uncomfortable.

There might be several reasons why this person disagrees with you. It can usually boil down to something like one of the following:

  1. They feel inferior and want you to know it;
  2. They don’t like your personality;
  3. There is a disagreement with how you approach the task at hand;
  4. Your sense of humor they find inappropriate (and they would prefer if you didn’t laugh so much);
  5. The fact that you are constantly right makes them feel wrong in comparison;
  6. They don’t care about what you have to say and just do as they please.

12) Only Impersonal Conversation With You

If your coworker doesn’t feel threatened by you, there are still plenty of signs to watch out for. One sign is if they only have impersonal conversations with you.

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Let’s say your coworker always talks about their weekend plans with you and never asks about yours. Another sign is if your coworkers never ask how work is going but always want to know what you’re up to outside of work hours.

When your coworkers only interact with you in a way that isn’t personal and personal, it can leave a bad taste in the mouth of the person feeling threatened. If this sounds like your situation, then maybe it is time for you to take on some new projects or explore different career options so that your coworker doesn’t feel threatened anymore.

What To Do If You Confirm Your Coworker Is Threatened By You

In conclusion, if you think your coworker feels threatened by you, there are some possible explanations. By being aware of these reasons, you can take steps to ease the tension and improve your working relationship.

You can do a few things to try to improve the situation. First, try to be aware of how you come across to others and make an effort to be more approachable. Secondly, avoid any behavior that could be interpreted as threatening, such as being overly assertive.

Finally, try to build a rapport with your coworker by taking the time to get to know them better.

If you want to learn more about being threatened in the workplace, check this article: Signs your boss is threatened by you.

2 Comment on this post

  1. All these are good. I have seen this with many companies and this same situation has happened to me over and over in 25 years and the only thing I did was move away from the company and find another Job. Now, I am at the point where I cannot continue like this and in this new job also I have the same situation. I try to be nice to the other person who feels threatened or ignores me in meetings and he thinks that he is THE NERD or BRILLIANT JERKS who they call themself and tries to put me down in front of my co-workers or managers. He keeps on doing this from the time I joined this company and I have had it. I did complain to the Manager and the Director and both are talking to this person. All these people who are like this have been in the company for almost 25 years or more so they do not know how other companies function or how work is done. They think it is either their way or Highway. So, I tried to avoid this guy, but since he is my equal I have to work with him on projects and day to day work. He always telling me that I do not understand you, I do not follow you. So, I am not sure what you can do to such kind of guys. Hope there is some solutions to such kind of AH. This is just bizarre in America.

    1. By Totempool

      Hello Raj, it’s sad, but these behaviors often happen for many reasons. People who have worked for a long time in the company are resistant to changes and try to avoid anything pushing them out of their comfort zone. They apply skills other than good performance, such as internal politics, self-protection, and frequent avoidance of the new. They are usually professionally insecure and often feel threatened, and this article shows ways to identify these behaviors.

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