/Career Advice/On the Job/How to Deal With a Dominant Colleague/

Do you have a co-worker who chimes in on every conversation unsolicitedly? Someone who thinks they have the solutions to all the problems, answers to all the questions, and is just a little too overbearing to work with. Most of us, unsurprisingly and unfortunately, would have encountered one such person in the course of our careers.

It isn’t an inherently bad thing to be opinionated, but it can dampen the team’s morale if they start monopolising conversations, being dismissive of others, and making decisions before taking a holistic view of the situation or involving others. Alpha personalities while great in same situations, also tend to overshadow quieter personalities in team discussions. But there are ways in which we can deal with such colleagues professionally and without losing your cool:

Exercise empathy

Dominant personalities, more often than not, stem from overcompensating for deeply embedded insecurities. People who are poor listeners are usually deeply conflicted and unsure of themselves. Our advice: Empathy should precede anger, always. And a little perspective can set things right. You might end up beginning to disregard and ignore what the dominant personality has to say entirely without empathy – this is a slippery slope as you might miss out on some insightful suggestions.

Try disengaging 

This is perhaps the easiest approach. Deflecting a know-it-all with a simple ‘thank you for your suggestion’ instead of giving them scope to engage further is probably the safest bet. This way, you end up giving equal weightage to everybody in the team without compromising on quality. The art of being polite and subtle never fails to work in any situation.

Attempt to redirect

Do not indulge interrupters. If you’re cut off in the middle of making a point, redirect the attention

to yourself by politely saying ‘Sorry I wasn’t done’. If they have a habit of interrupting, politely point out that while their enthusiasm is appreciated, they need to let other colleagues finish their point before chiming in so everyone feels heard. This serves a dual purpose – you invariably act as the habit breaker and also give a springboard to your teammates to hold their ground.

Try dealing with it at the micro level

Try resolving the issue one to one. This will display your emotional maturity and micro managerial skills. Unless the behaviour gets toxic for the team, involving the higher ups should be your last resort. Keep in mind that most dominating employees most likely have good intentions, but are unable to communicate their intentions in an appropriate manner. Tackling this issue head-on will not only benefit your teammates, but will also help that employee strengthen their listening and team-building skills and in doing so, achieve greater professional success themselves.

Natalina Pereira
Senior Operations Manager | TalentSpace

Natalina shares advice and best practices gained from working with our community of incredible talents and collaborating with recruiters from our partner companies on a day-to-day basis.