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How to Deal With Aggressive People at Work Easily


It’s almost certain that you’ll meet aggressive people throughout your life, especially at work. Pick up the skill of dealing with aggressive people from the following blog in order to achieve your professional goals smoothly!

Who are Aggressive People?

Often known to be intimidating or petrifying, aggressive people may or may not be passive. Some behave negatively but passively resist it; some tend to be intoxicated, leading to aggressive behaviors.

Aggressive People at WorkObviously, you don’t want your general well- being to be messed up – so deal with
such people easily from now onwards.

Now, it’s not very difficult to spot aggressive people at work. However, check out some characteristics an aggressive person will have:

● They tend to be very unreasonable to be dealt with
● They make people feel uncomfortable
● They may or may not express hostility directly
● They may hoax you overtime

Aggressive behavior can be observed towards a group or a person. The main cause is often deep-rooted and it’s difficult to change them. What you’ve got to do is, change your approach. At the end of the day, you only have control over you –work on yourself!

Why do people behave aggressively?

Aggressive behavior is frustrating and confounding. Aggressive behavior is known to be a deliberate, masked style of expressing feelings, mostly covert. These feelings can be of guilt, sadness, regret or any other negative emotions.

This dysfunctional behavior is widespread because:

  • People want to Protect Themselves – Studies have shown that aggressive behavior is expressed to ensure that the individual has an upper hand. Aggression instills fear in people, keeping them safe
  • Sugarcoated Hostility is Difficult – Emotions don’t just vanish – the negative ones tend to stay and do the damage. This makes it hard for people to sugarcoat information. It’s always easier for people to express anger, probably scream or slam doors at work
  • When one can’t be Assertive, he becomes the opposite – I’m talking about aggressive behavior! Assertiveness is wonderful quality and it needs years of training, hard work and efforts to achieve
  • Not all have Perfect Childhood Experiences – Longitudinal studies have shown that people who were bullied and shamed in their childhood often turn out to be aggressive people.
  • Aggression gives Power – People are easy to deal with when they are afraid of you – aggressive people had figured out this theory way before. And, guess what- revenge is sweet! If showing aggression gets their work done, they sure will do it. In fact, it’s their own way to let out the anger from the past
  • Being Aggressive is Convenient – It becomes a lot easier for people to show aggression to get work done as they do not owe any explanations to anyone. Maybe, this is the way which your colleague uses to get work done.

But, he’s a good person at home which is just miserable!

Want to Know the Secret to Gain Confidence of Aggressive Colleagues at Work?

When trying to figure out and deal with aggressive people, keep the following rules in mind:

Rule 1, you’ve got to understand that very often, aggression comes from within one when they are very insecure. It can be referred to as a defense mechanism. It’s rare to see a happy, self- confident individual get aggressive with people to get things done.

Rule 2, do not underestimate anyone. Anyone can be aggressive! Even your boss at work who used to be nice to you. He is probably getting aggressive with you because he’s insecure! Do not think that he doesn’t fit the profile; expect the unexpected.

I truly feel that we’ve got to stop fearing people; instead, we’ve got to take control over emotions and transform ourselves in wonderful ways like:

  • Learning the art of letting go, therefore, overcoming fear
  • Change the way you perceive the aggressive situation; approach it positively

Honestly, aggressive people are bullies and they don’t need your confidence.
However, there are ways in which you can still help both the parties. Let’s know-how:

  • Pick an individual who makes you feel intimated and practice on him. Talk to him, get to know him in order to get his confidence
  • Reflect – Know why you feel intimidated around the person – When you ask yourself this question, make notes and reflect. You may get answers like you become more alert or find them overpowering. Aggressive people tend to make people feel less capable of dealing with challenges and respond in the right way

For example, I had a Manager who would scream at me over the phone. He’d slam his hand on his desk all the time. He’d also fire people; he had the authority to do so.

So, I asked myself then, what really made me fear him? I got the answer after days… It was mostly intimidation. So, I decided to never give him a reason to attack me ever again. That determination got me going!

Again, at the end of the day, one can control only his emotions, not others!

  • Change how you feel if you feel you’re not influential enough – As mentioned before, we cannot convince anyone to change but ourselves. However, to cope with aggressive people, you can use humor or kindness to calm both the parties down.

What you can also do is, associate your intimidator with something really funny.
Every time you think about him, you’ll end up laughing or making jokes! It’s a great
way to deal with intimidators.

  • Think of benefits of fear over fear itself – Remember the 2nd point! This is
    connected to that. Try recalling how and why you fear your intimidator. Think
    about how you’re going to deal with this issue; most importantly, make
    notes, go through real-life possibilities in order to prepare yourself.

This step equals all the hard work down the drain.

In my scenario, I was all set to work someplace else. I saved up enough to be
ready for the worst-case scenario and ensured I’d take this learning with me; just
in case I meet another one!

Please Note: Get help right away if you’re dealing with an abusive person. Or,
take precautionary measures and ensure they go for anger management courses
or related options.

Dealing with Aggressive People in Simple Ways:

Following are the steps to deal with aggressive people at work – this is a pretty direct approach. It’s easy to follow as well. So, don’t worry!

  • Keep your cool – There’s a saying, every time you play with fire, it’s just going to get worse and burn you up as well. This saying applies here. Don’t indulge in aggressive people’s problems too much. If you lose your cool by any chance, you can:
    – Count backward from 10
    – Deep breaths help
    – Distract yourself – Come back to the issue later to deal with it in a professional manner
    – Think of the consequences of the anger – The results will be amazing!
  • Try being solution-oriented – Don’t go with the flow when you just can’t! Stop and point out to the person that you find him aggressive. Who knows, he may have never realized that he was aggressive in the first place.

Remember, do not annoy them any further- here are some tips for you:

– Don’t use words like ‘you’ and ‘your
– Talk empathetically and let them know that things will work out
– Request them to change their voice level, tone and so on
– Let them know that you understand how stressed they are but, they’ve got to calm down!

The sooner the issues are addressed, the easier everyone’s lives will become. Better safe than sorry, you know. Help the person improve and enjoy the process with him.

  • Empathize – Try understanding why your colleague is being aggressive in the first place. If the reason is something workable, work it out! If this aggressive behavior is deep-rooted, this individual needs to undergo some kind of counseling. Aggression is a very natural reaction to claim or protect something. So, here are some thinkers:
    – Give thought to what the aggressive man feels
    – How would you possibly react to certain situations?
    – Is there something personal that’s making him aggressive?
  • Be Assertive – Empathy and assertive attitudes may seem to be very contradictory here however, it needs to be looked into, based on the needs! You don’t have to be aggressive with the aggressive man, right? Check out the pointers:
    – Maintain a subtle tone, keep your voice steady and low
    – Show the right amount of confidence
    – Stand at the same level as the other individual – treat him as your own and talk
    – Self- respect is important – it’s a give and take! Maintain it
    – Don’t respond to aggression with aggression – increase your level of assertiveness
  • Focus – You stay in your zone. Maintain your stream of thought and have full focus and control over whatsoever is happening. Your job is to help the other person stop and reason his behavior. Make it happen:

– Let them know that they matter
– Let them know that after years, this situation will make him laugh
– Humor is always helpful here

Signs you’ve got to look out for to know that you’re an aggressive person:

Sometimes, people tend to pass on emotions; aggression is one of them. You never know you start being aggressive with people. So, be on the lookout and watch out for the top signs that you’re being an aggressive person:

  • If you’re making wistful statements, you’ve got to stop and ask yourself if you’re being aggressive. Ask your colleague what you have to, with dignity rather than going around the bush.

Please do not end up insulting people!

  • Jealousy can also get you to be aggressive. This may make you sound rude, instead of happy while complementing someone. For example, your colleague is getting married and your response is, “who’d possibly marry you?” That speaks a lot about your passive-aggressive attitude!

To fix this, you can step back and apologize.

  • Ignoring the Speaker is an another edge of the spectrum. Saying nothing can also be noted as passive-aggressive behavior. Or, texting while someone is talking to you about something important! Ignoring calls, responding in monosyllables and so on are really pointers for you to understand that you’re becoming passive-aggressive or purely aggressive
  • Delaying tasks without a reason implies that you’re not happy working with someone; that purely is passive-aggressive behavior. Aggressive behavior will be called so, when you’d shout at him
  • Ignoring someone you never used to is another sign. Do not be so subtle, it’s heartbreaking for people dealing with your aggressive behavior. Be it gossiping about someone or ignoring someone, it’s all signs of you being aggressive
  • Ruining someone is another sign of your aggressive behavior. This can be done in ways like you criticizing someone whenever you wish to. Or, publicly shouting and creating a scene. If you’ve done so, please apologize to that individual and sign up for online courses about anger management at work
  • Harsh competition habits also suggest aggressive behaviors. Like, keeping a tab on who married first and second and who’s most successful; it’s sad to keep an eye on others activities this way. Remember, do not let the world influence your beliefs, values, and opinions. Stay strong and away from the harsh competition.

Should you be nice to Aggressive People?

This is completely situation- based. You obviously need to look into the extent of aggression; abusive behavior must be of 0% tolerance. Please do not forget your mental health and well- being, irrespective of where you are.

Be nice to aggressive people, practice empathy, assertiveness, and related aspects. You need to understand that these people may not be aggressive on purpose; address them and react in accordance.

For instance, if someone hurts you or verbally passes mean comments about your work more than twice, in spite of constant kind behavior on your part, do not encourage it any further. On the other hand, if you see any improvement in the person’s behavior, be kind to him and work on the issues; he surely will improve!

Treat his aggression as history, once he’s become a better, more stable human.

About Author: Niall Kennedy is the Creative Director at Preferred Training Networks. He has over 20 years of experience in Professional Development Industry. He has published 4
business books – “All Aboard the Brain Train,” “Healthy Leadership,” “Errant
Workplace Behaviours,” and “Hidden Observations”.