In many cases, workplaces are microcosms of the real world, complete with all sorts of competing personalities. The workplace can also be a scene where emotions run high given the right situation. Some jobs are fast-paced, high-productivity, and also high-stress. Things may get a little too heated from time to time, tempers flare, and verbal altercations occur. When that happens, most people come back around after they’ve all cooled off a bit to make amends and continue with the status quo.
But, what do you do when that isn’t the case when one or more individuals in your office are difficult and aggressive a good portion of the time? What resources can you lean on to figure out how to work successfully with angry coworkers. Suppose management is on top of the issue, great! But, even when you have responsible leaders, there may be a stretch of time before the problem of having an angry coworker is resolved.
Don’t put up with unacceptable behavior.
No one has a right to bully or intimidate you in the workplace. Even if there are already complaints against someone, if you feel threatened by an angry coworker, report it immediately.
Do not engage.
Sometimes people who feel so much anger that they have such a hard time controlling in the workplace start looking for ways to engage with the anger by fighting with others. Know what you can or cannot handle. If you have a propensity to get involved in heated exchanges because you don’t like to back down, don’t engage with the angry coworker. It won’t turn out well for you.
If you’re forced to work with an angry coworker, stay calm and professional. Focus on what you both need to accomplish together to get the task done and do your part to keep you both on target. The less you talk about other things, the more likely you both are to get through the task productively.
Move the battle somewhere else.
If you see the angry coworker and another coworker get heated with each other, suggest to the manager that they move the interaction to the manager’s office or another private location to resolve the issue. If their altercation has an audience, neither participant is likely to back down first.
Sometimes working with an angry coworker can be infuriating! That’s just their negative energy rubbing off on you. If you feel yourself become agitated, take a second or two and practice deep breathing. Focus on the here and now as you breathe and put your current situation into perspective, realizing that you are in control of your feelings.
Positivity and kindness have a way of neutralizing some forms of hostility. Some even generally cranky coworkers will soften up around those who are consistently positive despite some sour interactions. Use positive, goal-oriented language in whatever situation you find yourself with an angry coworker. Your positivity might very well rub off on them.
Encourage Solution Based Action
Sometimes the angry coworker has to get it all out before they’re ready to work. If you know them well enough and feel comfortable listening to them gripe, you might get them to a point where they’re prepared to work on a solution instead of complaining about the problem.
The moment you see a situation escalating between yourself and an angry coworker or between an angry coworker and someone else, seek help, particularly from a manager or someone else trained in diffusing these types of situations. Do not allow yourself to stay in a situation that can potentially turn abusive, especially in the workplace.