Ten Tips for Managing Anger and Aggressive Behaviour

At time we are all faced with people who are displaying anger and aggressive behaviour. It can be, at best, uncomfortable and, at worst frightening and potentially dangerous.

In Ten Tips for Managing Anger and Aggressive Behaviour, we’ll look at ten things that can be done when confronted with this type of behaviour to minimise the risks for all those involved.

Managing Anger and Aggressive Behaviour
Over assertive communication skills
Tip One: Be empathic and non-judgemental.

You are only seeing the output of the person displaying these behaviours. It could be that, underneath, what they are dealing with is the most important thing in the world to them.

Remember the iceberg theory. A large percentage of what drives behaviour is hidden. We should never assume we fully understand. Instead we should listen, empathise, be non-judgemental and pay attention.

Tip Two: Respect personal space.

Allowing personal space tends to decrease a person’s anxiety, can help with conflict resolution and de-escalate angry or aggressive behaviours. Try and allow at least half a metre between you and the other person. If you must enter a person’s space to provide care and attention, be sure to explain what you are going to do and why.

Tip Three: Use non-threatening, non-verbal communication.

Be mindful of your gestures, facial expressions, movements and tone of voice. Keeping your tone and body language neutral will go a long way towards defusing the situation.

Tip Four: Avoid overreacting.

Remain calm, rational and professional. Whilst you can’t always control the other person’s behaviour, you can have a direct impact on whether the situation escalates or diffuses. Pay attention to your breathing, tone of voice, body language, choice of words etc.

Tip Five: Focus on feelings.

Evidence and facts are important but it’s how a person feels that is the likely driver behind angry and aggressive behaviour. Watch and listen carefully for the person’s real message. Empathise and ask questions that show you are at least trying to understand.

Tip Six: Ignore challenging questions.

In situations where a person is displaying angry or aggressive behaviour, they might use challenging questions as a way of getting a reaction from you and, thereby, justifying, in some way, their actions. It’s very important to recognise this and avoid where possible.

Ignore the challenge but not the person. Bring their focus back to how you can work together to solve the problem.

Tip Seven: Set limits.

Give the person clear, simple and enforceable limits. Offer concise and respectful choices and point out the consequences of not respecting these. Choose words, tone and body language carefully whilst doing this.

Tip Eight: Choose wisely what you insist upon.

It’s important to be thoughtful in deciding which rules are non- negotiable and which are not. In the workplace you may have some flexibility over which rules always need to be adhered to and which are more guidance based.

Tip Nine: Allow silence for reflection.

The power of silence. Silence can be an extremely effective communication tool. Allowing a person who is displaying angry or aggressive behaviour a period where they can reflect on what is happening can often be enough to help them calm down or at least start to behave a little more rationally.

Tip Ten: Allow time for decisions.

Most of us understand, usually because we’ve learned the hard way, that making decisions during times of heightened emotion usually isn’t the best course of action. When a person is angry, or displaying aggressive behaviour, it’s important to give them time to think more clearly and, therefore, make better decisions about what to do next.

During this post we’ve focused a lot on the importance of body language when faced with a person showing angry or aggressive behaviour. Enjoy this short video which provides more information on the subject.

Further Reading:

An article providing more information on how to recognise the signs of aggressive behaviour in the workplace.




How to Handle Questions Confidently

How do you top off a successful presentation? You need to ensure your audience goes away not only feeling informed but impressed and won over. The end of your presentation gives audience members a window to engage with you and ask questions. For you, this is an opportunity to restate key messages, provide greater detail where necessary and most importantly make lasting impressions.

However, as we give THEM control, questions at the end are also where the wheels can fall off your presentation! Handling questions and objections well is an essential skill for those making winning proposals, pitching their service or responding effectively to interrogative questioning in a range of business activities.

Presentation skills masterclass

Once you reach the Q&A section of your presentation, there are some straightforward steps to maintain composure and handle questions efficiently and masterfully:

Thank them

When a question lands, the first thing to do is thank the audience member asking because thanking generates positive emotions which help you to build rapport. If you are threatened by tough questions or objections, thanking can placate the questioner and keep other audience members on your side. Empirical science agrees: gratitude is a basis of power.


Next, ensure that you fully understand what the audience member has asked. In order to do this, you need to clarify the question. The most effective way of clarifying in a Q&A session is to paraphrase what you were asked because the audience member will have confidence in you and you can answer the question correctly. Besides that, you have more time to consider your response.


In a small room with 10 or so members this step may not be necessary, but in a conference space with an audience of 200, most people will not have heard the question. Clearly re-state it so the whole audience understands the context for the answer you will provide.


Now it’s time to answer the question. Answer as clearly and concisely as possible. If it requires too much time, or you would need to provide data that you don’t have to hand, informing the questioner that you will get back to them later will help you stay on track. However, its essential to confirm the questioner is happy with this.

A problem that some of the most experienced presenters have is focusing only on the questioner when giving an answer because the rest of your audience will lose interest. Therefore, make eye contact with all audience members to keep them engaged and involved.


Before moving on to the next question, ensure the answer you have provided satisfies the questioner by confirming with them. Moving on too quickly could give the impression you are concealing something and frustrate audience members who want to follow up.


When you get to the Q&A session in your business presentation, these five steps – Thank, Clarify, Amplify, Answer and Confirm – can help you to stay composed, keep momentum going and perform masterfully.

Presentation Skills is part of our Business Skills Excellence Programme – along with many other core business skills like our minutes writing course and time management course. Take a look at our course finder to see the whole range!