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.
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.
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”