How to Handle an Angry Coworker

Not too long ago, a fellow coworker was having issues with some software and was struggling with it. I was responsible for implementing the software, so when he reached his breaking point he lashed out at me. It was hard to take, as I didn’t feel like I was to blame. I could hear my Irish ancestors whispering to me, “Jimmy, just knock him on is ARSE.”  Thankfully, I realized that option was totally unacceptable.  I did what I do best in these situations – I said nothing and quietly beat myself up.

Angry Coworker

When someone gets angry at us (coworker, boss, friend, spouse), we usually react by getting defensive.  Sometimes we fight back, and maybe ruminate on it for days, think of all the good responses…..

But there is a better way.

Pema Chödrön the author of the book “When Things Fall Apart“, states that when someone is angry with us, we have a choice: we can be lulled into ignorance or let the situation wake us up further to what it means to be a better human being. “We can use these difficult situations to encourage ourselves to take a leap, and use them as a learning opportunity.”

In the middle of the fray, when emotions are hot, it seems like we don’t have a choice of how to react. I created the following infographic to illustrate all the positive and negative options we have.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

When faced with a conflict, the first step you should take is to become aware of how you’re feeling, and more importantly, how they’re feeling. Allow time to cool down and see the issue from their point of view. This will aid you in reaching out to resolve the issue. This is the path of growth.

Related post in dealing with an angry coworker – “How to Have a Difficult Conversation

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  • Pip Underwood

    I had a co worker get angry at me becuase she was busy. I actually helped her and notified her that i helped because i understood she was busy. After i let her know i helped her, she lashed out at me in an angry tissy. I couldn’t understand the anger because I was having a great day. I felt like she was trying to hurt my feelings and i couldn’t help but laugh at the drama she presented me with. She got even madder and complained to the manager, and then i got a talking too, but i couldn’t understand why she didn’t get in trouble for lashing out at me in front of customers at the restaurant. I thought laughing was good for my soul and her lack of appreciation just made me confused lol. The manager was angry, she was angry and i never let them make me angry. When people are working there is no need for drama, but if we watch the Jerry Springer show we get to laugh at that drama. Angry people I find are pretty self centered and when people are working, they are actually lucky they have the capacity to work. There are so many problems in the world to worry about and angry people seem more focused on their veiws. Nobody should have to deal with drama at work and if there is drama laugh at the show, why participate ? Is that bad?