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Your jumped-up colleague is always the first to let everyone know what they think — but rarely is anyone waiting with bated breath to hear it.

Take a tip from the Brits: It’s all about language and what you artfully neglect to mention

So how do you handle this insufferable motormouth at work? Can you cut them down to size?

We went to question and answer site Quora to ask, how do you get away with telling someone you work with that they suck?

Take a tip from the Brits: It’s all about language and what you artfully neglect to mention.

Tactical omission

“Sadly so many people confuse egotism with self-esteem,” wrote Deborah Hancock. “They ain’t the same zip code. “ Hancock pointed out that it’s what you don’t say that makes your response clever. She added: “They don't call it ‘English understatement’ for nothing.”

She’s a fan of the swift conversation-ender “which I've seen many an English person use to brilliant effect:  ‘Ah, but don't let me keep you.’ (even when the annoying person clearly still wanted to continue the discussion).”

Hancock added that if the person is, perhaps, trying to make themselves useful to you at work, then damn them with faint praise. “You can always say brightly – ‘Oh I so appreciate that you are willing to help me. I will be sure to get in touch when that's necessary.’"

Rowan Atkinson, as Edmund Blackadder, tells Tony Robinson, as Baldrick, how to pull a sickie in Blackadder Goes Forth (Credit: BBC)

 

Cut them down to size

Damian McSorley used to use a one-liner that was rarely understood by the recipient: “I see you have arrived with your ego intact”. His favourite subtle put-down? A simple “thank you for your opinion”.

My Mum would say, ‘It's a good I thing I know you or I'd be impressed’

“My Mum would say, ‘It's a good I thing I know you or I'd be impressed.’”

Joshua Bowman warned that “being ‘cleverly British’ doesn't stop someone from being offended if they have even an inkling that you're insulting them — it doesn't require getting the joke to catch on to your tone and expression.

Bowman wrote that the real answer is to make them laugh with a joke that's a little too true. “People with high opinions of themselves will often laugh off their own foibles!” He pointed out that of course, “you have to have a pretty high opinion of yourself to want to cut them down, make sure it's warranted first or you could be the target of the 'you suck' yourself.”

Best course of action?

“You use sarcasm”, advised Daniel de la Cruz. “How do you learn to use sarcasm? Watch every episode of Blackadder and remember Captain Blackadder's every response to Baldrick's 'cunning plans'.”

Alternatively, de la Cruz also suggested, if you genuinely care about this colleague, you likely don’t want to offend them because you want to help. “You discipline someone's wrongdoing because you care about them,” he wrote.

In that case, you should first listen to their opinions about their work (which shows that you respect them as a person) and then offer your honest opinion about their work and what is wrong with it and why. “It's then up to the other person to accept [or] reject your opinion and make the necessary changes to improve accordingly.”

Quora respondents are required to use their true names under the site’s Real Names policy. To help ensure legitimacy and quality, Quora asks some individuals, such as doctors and lawyers, to confirm their expertise.

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