How to Insult a Coworker


The alternate headline I considered for this article was ‘how to get fired for cause,’ but I decided to go the slightly less incendiary route.

I’ve been at my current job for over five years. Which is bad. I’m a millennial. Year two or three we get antsy and contemplate moonlighting, or on my case, having another baby. (Hey, we all have our own methods for keeping life interesting). Year five is when you really pull on your fat pants and get comfortable in a job. In the current job market and era, it practically makes you an old-timer, after all. A 2016 ClearanceJobs study found 47 percent of cleared candidates surveyed had been in their jobs less than 3 years. As for me, I already say things like, ‘well, this is how we did it back in 2012…’ Which is another way of saying, ‘I’m a dinosaur.’

The cornerstone of getting comfortable in a job is when you begin to lose your filter. And annoying coworker behaviors suddenly become opportunities to say something you regret. I’m not the only one thinking this. Quora has an entire thread dedicated to the simplest way to insult an annoying coworker (which really isn’t that helpful – clearly the Quora community is not applying itself).

If this is you, or like me, you enjoy living vicariously through the mistakes of others, here’s a list of ways to insult a coworker. Please chime in with your best (clean) insults in the comments.

If I wanted your opinion, I would have asked you to fill out the form.

This might not be funny if you work outside of government, but if you’ve spent some time in an industry where it seems nothing gets accomplished without someone filling out a form, it’s kind of funny. You probably won’t say this to the employee who keeps interjecting with ‘ideas,’ but you might think it.

Are you my boss? beCause if I have two bosses you’re going to have to start paying me double.

Maybe it was the end of a long day but when I overheard this comment I was rolling – because, if you think about it, it’s true. I always joke that my ability to be successful in my current job is based on having to keep as few people as possible happy. If you’ve been through an enjoyable season of having multiple supervisors, you know you should be earning double. Very few organizations have the cohesiveness or unity of vision to pull off having multiple personalities at the helm. When you report to multiple managers, you are going to be pulled in different directions, with different priorities depending upon the day and who’s watching. So go ahead and ask for a raise – you’ve earned it.

No, I hear you, I just don’t care.

I’ve heard this one said out loud a few times, and I’ve thought about saying it myself a few times more. It comes to mind when someone is trying to convince you of a position after you’ve already thought out a plan of your own and stated you were firm in your decision. But the other person doesn’t give up. This is why brainstorming/dissenting opinions are best made early in the game. You absolutely must take coworker and supervisory feedback at the beginning of a project. But if someone comes to you after it’s complete and asks for a ‘re-do’ there had best be a major flaw worth repairing.

your job is about to be replaced by a robot.

Talk about the dis of an era. Job automation is such a hot topic, the Obama White House wrote an entire report on it. Perhaps it’s because my husband works in IT, but this is one of his favorite jabs when someone is being more automaton than happy helper.  It isn’t really a jab for him – he even says his own job won’t exist in five years because of the fast pace of technology. Half dis/half warning, I guess you could call it. As soon as the robot writers can produce copy with the degree of sarcasm I require, I’m delighted to be replaced, myself.

You remind me of me when I was young…

I worked in the Pentagon in my early 20s and I got this one ALL THE TIME. At first blush it usually seems like a compliment, coming from superiors in positions you admire. The problem is after the ‘…’ is usually some statement about how you’re actually NOT like them when they were young, because they did things a certain way. Even if someone at work reminds you of yourself, it’s probably best not to say it. As a genuine compliment it comes across arrogant. As a corrective measure it’s a dis disguised as a compliment – double burn.

Again, I’m in the fat pants era of my career, so take this as ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ When in doubt, keep any thoughts about any of your annoying coworkers to yourself. As Mark Twain eloquently stated, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.”

Lindy Kyzer is the editor of She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.

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