How to Handle an Angry Colleague

by Ruaidhri Horan, Marketing Manager, Abrivia Recruitment

Do you work for or with angry volatile colleague(s), who make you walk on eggshells most days? If this behaviour encompasses repeated threats, humiliation and intimidation, which is having a negative effect on your work and mental wellbeing, it could justifiably be considered bullying.

But how you deal with such outrageous behaviour?

1. Remain cool, calm and collective

An angry person relishes the prospect of an argument and may tease you with emotive language to entice you into a fight. Try not to fall for the bait and remain cool, calm and collected.

2. Go for a walk and take a deep breath

You are furious and biting at the bit to get retribution. However, this will play into your angry colleagues plans, which probably are to escalate the dispute. The best advice is to go for a short walk, take deep breaths and allow your justified anger to quell before you return to the office.

3. Confront their behaviour

Try not to get involved in the content of an argument if your angry colleagues’ behaviour is unacceptable. Instead, focus the conversation on their behaviour and explain that you want to find a resolution to what they are talking about, but in a dignified, professional manner.

The Supreme Court of Ireland defines bullying as “you must prove that the behaviour you were subjected must be outrageous, unacceptable and exceeding all bounds tolerated by decent society”. This is a very high bar to prove bullying is occurring. Instead, as a first port of call, talk with your HR department and seek their advice on the matter.

Even if you do not feel bullied but feel that roaring, shouting and banging of tables is totally inappropriate, talk with your HR department or immediate manager (if your immediate manager is not the angry colleague in question) as this behaviour could be creating a toxic working environment and having detrimental effect on the performance of your organisation.