How To Deal With Angry People In The Workplace
Updated February 04, 2020
Reviewer Aaron Horn
It seems like every workplace has that person. The one that has a short temper and is known for having angry outbursts. They are kind of a wild card and you never really know what to expect from them. Depending on their day, their attitude could be directed at the boss, a co-worker, or even a customer of the business. It's hard to understand how these people have continued to hold their positions. If you have one of these people where you work, you are not alone. Switching jobs is often not the best answer because there are people that struggle with their emotions everywhere. This is why it's beneficial to learn how to deal with angry people.
Try Changing Your Perspective
One of the first things that you can try when dealing with angry people is to change your perspective. You've probably heard it said that "hurting people hurt people" and there's a lot of truth to the statement. Often when people seem to have high levels of anger, it's because they're dealing with things that you might not be able to see.
It could be that they are struggling in a relationship, that they've recently lost a loved one, or that they are overwhelmed by anxiety. It's also important to realize that depression often disguises itself as anger. So, what you see as an angry person may be a person that is experiencing high levels of depression or other mental health challenges.
While changing your perspective might not change the attitude and behavior of the other person, it can help you to be aware of the situation better. It can also help you to have more empathy for a person that doesn't seem to deserve it when you realize that they are in pain as well.
When you respond in a negative way to someone that has an angry attitude, it's likely to make them even angrier. Instead, it's important that you learn how to keep a calm mind and attitude when dealing with that person. It can be very difficult to do so, but it can also help to deescalate the situation.
The last thing that you want to do is get into an argument with someone who is often angry. You are most likely not going to win the argument; all you're going to do is cause a person to become even angrier.
However, you also don't want to come across like you are staying calm to be better than the other person. This is also something that can just push the person even further in their anger.
Try To See It From Their Point Of View
If the angry person that you're dealing with isn't someone who typically seems to respond angrily, take a minute to try to see things from their point of view. Is there something legitimate that they are angry over that is not being noticed? Is there something that can easily be done to change the situation?
Sometimes the best way to deal with an angry person is to help remove the situation that's causing them to be mad or hurt.
Mirror What They Are Saying
Sometimes people become angry because they don't feel they are being heard. This often happens in the workplace when customers don't feel like they have gotten what they deserve, and they have an issue with customer service. If you find yourself dealing with an angry customer, it can help to let them know that you hear what they are saying. Letting people know that you hear them and understand what they're talking about and why they are so frustrated can be enough to help bring down their level of anger. Once this happens, you're usually able to arrive at a better solution faster. But first, you have to let them know that they are understood.
Do Not Gossip About The Situation
It's tempting when you see someone having angry outbursts that don't fit the situation to want to run and talk about it with another co-worker. However, nothing good ever comes out of office gossip. Remember that people that are likely to gossip with you are also likely to gossip about you. So, if you have had to deal with an angry person like a co-worker or customer, only share the details of the situation with those that need to know.
Take Responsibility For Your Actions
Sometimes when you're dealing with an angry person, it's because you've done something that has brought that action on yourself. If you have done something to cause this person to be angry, the best thing that you can do is acknowledge what you have done, take responsibility, and apologize. While this might not make the situation instantly better, it can go a long way in helping to calm the other person down so you can talk about what happened and what needs to be done from there.
Don't Allow Them To Control You
If you're a person that shies away from confrontation, people with bold personalities like angry people can tend to spot that. When this happens, they can come to you to target you with their anger because they don't think that you're going to do anything to stop it. You become an easy target for them.
It's okay for you to stick up for yourself. Whether they are angry at you or simply directing their anger at you. There's nothing wrong with letting them know that they need to change the way that they are talking to you and behaving around you. You don't need to stand for misdirected anger, name-calling, or any other childish behavior.
Remember that anger is simply an emotion. Anger itself isn't bad. However, if the person is acting and behaving in a way that makes you feel like they could be dangerous, it's important to address the situation right away.
Know When To Walk Away
Sometimes the best thing that you can do is to walk away from a situation or conversation. If you're in an argument with an angry co-worker, let them know that you need to take a few minutes and then you can come back to re-address the situation if it's something that needs to be discussed.
If the angry person that you're dealing with is a customer of the business you work for, it may be best to walk away and get a manager or another coworker to come into the situation with you. This can help to bring in a fresh perspective and give you a chance to calm down.
Talk To Your HR Department
It's perfectly normal for everyone to have a bad day from time to time. However, if you are dealing with a person who is often angry at work or has angry outbursts, then it may be time to talk to your human resource department. There are some types of behaviors that are just not appropriate in a place of business.
If you feel like a line is being crossed, then it's important to address it. However, there are many times when addressing it is best done through HR and not by going directly to that person. Especially if the confrontation is likely to cause the person to become even angrier.
HR workers are trained on how to handle these types of situations. They can help protect others in the workplace as well as help the person dealing with anger get the help that they need.
Talk To A Therapist Yourself
If you are experiencing anxiety over going to work then it could be beneficial for you to talk to the therapist.
A therapist can help you identify coping strategies to use when you do have to interact with this person, or even decide if staying at the place of business is right for you. If you're having a difficult time sorting through the situation in your role in it a therapist can help you get to the bottom of it.
If you're looking for a therapist, you can talk to your HR department, check with your health insurance company, ask friends and family for referrals, or try online therapy offered by BetterHelp.
And remember, you don't need to let someone else's emotions, words, and attitude change you. If you are in a good mood, you can stay in a good mood even after dealing with an angry person. You don't need to take their anger upon yourself.