The Smug Coworker

Every now and then you encounter a coworker who comes across as…well…smug. He (she) always seems to have this self-satisfied, condescending, know-it-all, arrogant expression on his face. When you’re in meetings, he rarely contributes anything of substance, but rather sits in judgement of everyone else’s decisions and actions. It’s not that these people actually do anything horribly bad, but they’re just annoying to have around. Their seeming indifferent attitude can take a lot away from an otherwise strong team environment.

Although that smug coworker may be the arrogant individual he appears to be, it is also very possible that he is actually just painfully shy and very uncomfortable when having to deal with other people. What looks like an ‘arrogant’ expression can just be him attempting to look confident. If this is the case, he actually could be an asset to the team if you can find a way to get him positively engaged. The most effective way to do this is to make a point to ask him questions that get him involved. Ask for his opinion on things, or on his thoughts as to best ways to solve a problem or approach a situation. If he really is looking to make a contribution, he will appreciate the opportunity. He may not contribute much to begin with, but over time will become comfortable enough to be an active participant.

If, on the other hand, he is that judgemental individual he appears to be, you will likely find that he will change his demeanour fairly quickly. Once he gets the sense that you actually value his opinion, his opinion of you will elevate almost immediately (after all, you must be pretty smart – since you recognize how smart he is).

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