How to Deal with Mr. Angry

You know Mr Angry, don’t you? The person who doesn’t respect the needs, opinions and feelings of others. The person who never apologises for things, even when they are at fault. The person who seems to take great satisfaction in being right (and making you look bad). Often rude and abusive, and occasionally deceptive and manipulative, how do we manage Mr. Angry and aggressive behaviour?

Keep Calm

When you’re dealing with this person, composure is one of the most important things. Whisper this quietly… often, the reason this person is so angry is because they want to get a reaction from you. In fact, others might only listen when they are angry L Therefore, take a deep breath and stay calm and in control of the situation. If you retaliate with criticism or worse still with anger of your own, you legitimise their approach and could get drawn into escalating the situation by trading insults – not a good look for you and your credibility at work.

Managing emotions and remaining calm under pressure are not easy. A great way to develop these skills and more is by attending our Emotional Intelligence course.

Listen and Ask Questions

Listening without judgement might negate some of their aggression and make them see you as less of a threat. Besides that, when you listen, try to do so with compassion and sincerity by making steady eye contact. As they share their negative feelings, this approach will give them the satisfaction of being heard and help to pacify them. As they explain their point of view, it is important to ask them additional questions.

The purpose of asking these questions should be to increase your understanding, rather than for them to prove anything to you, for example, that they performed a task competently or made the right decision. If you ask questions that show concern for their well-being, or that show you want to understand the challenges they are facing this will help to reduce their negative emotions and create a more collaborative atmosphere.

Asking effective questions and listening are both skills that can be developed on our Communication Training London.

Give Your Perspective

It is important that you are also heard. When you provide your version of events about an issue, describe what happened in a neutral way as an observer might describe it – fairly and objectively. This person is less likely to be aggressive if you empathise with their situation because your approach will reassure them that your intentions are to understand and solve the problem.

For example:

“I can see that this has been upsetting for you”.
“I understand that we should have met sooner to see if you had enough resources”.
Call Them Out

Remember when we talked about this person wanting a reaction? Aggression and anger can simply be tactical behaviour therefore no amount of sugar-coating will pacify the most negative people. In these situations, it is important to call the other person out. At the same time, we need to do so sensitively: don’t kick the hornet’s nest! Here are two examples that make use of positive language and tone to highlight this person’s behaviour.

For someone you know quite well: “Think about how much better this would go if we didn’t attack each other?”
For a more formal relationship: “I feel uncomfortable with the atmosphere right now, how do you feel?”


Using these phrases will help them to reflect on their aggressive behaviour and change it. Besides that, it will help you to win back some control over the situation. If they continue to be aggressive, postpone the conversation because this will allow them to calm down and give you time to think, say:

“We need to deescalate this. Let’s take an hour and come back in a calmer and more constructive frame of mind”.
In Summary…

There are many challenges that threaten our relationships at work. Angry and aggressive behaviour are two of the most destructive forces we face because of the negative impact they can have on the performances, motivation, productivity and efficiency of our teams. No one wants to work with Mr. Angry so let’s use the strategies outlined to handle this difficult individual.