How To Deal With An Aggressive Coworker And Enhance Your Work Reputation
Everyone was not raised the same. This contrast in upbringing is evident when you start your career.
You work with people of all backgrounds and personalities. Some are extremely kind, while others are outright hostile toward you. The longer you work, the more likely you are to encounter an aggressive coworker like this.
Note: Aggressive coworkers use intimidation as a weapon to get what they want.
An aggressive employee can send a shockwave of emotional stress through an entire office and negatively impact the productivity of the team.
Whether it’s preventing you from finishing your assignments or causing you to look bad in front of others, these types of colleagues can really wreck your career if you don’t know how to deal with them.
While aggressive coworkers can be a handful, difficult situations provide you with opportunities shine. If given the choice, of course, you’d rather avoid a workplace bully, but human resources says they aren’t going anywhere so why not take advantage of your situation?
When interacting with an aggressive coworker, you’ve got to think strategically. The following points will help you to better deal with an individual like this.
How To Deal With An Aggressive Coworker
1. Focus on the issue, not their personality
When you argue with someone there are two issues: the other person and the actual topic that you disagree about. You need to be tough on the issue, however, go easy on the other person. Turning the discussion into a battle of personalities is the worse thing you can do with an aggressive coworker. Focus on the issue at hand and you’re more likely to reach an agreement.
If you can’t agree, the consolation prize is the favorable reputation from handing a confrontational colleague with grace.
2. Keep your cool
Getting angry at an aggressive coworker plays into their strengths. They’ve got a black belt in conflict. You have a yellow belt…or whatever the worse belt in karate is.
Losing your cool in front of others can also damage your reputation or career if you were to say something regretful.
If you feel yourself becoming agitated, slow down and take a break. Tell them you need to excuse yourself to go to the restroom or take a call. Do whatever you have to do to escape the situation and regain your composure.
What is this coworker’s personality like? Does anything set them off? Has anything worked in the past? These are all things to consider.
Another thing to consider is anyone who has a history working with the aggressive coworker. If you feel safe speaking to them about your issue, ask what advice they have.
4. Be firm during your interactions with an aggressive coworker
Workplace bullies are hostile because this approach has worked in the past. They target individuals they believe to be “pushovers”.
Contrary to believe these individuals don’t want a fight. They’d rather easy wins. If you are firm and show aggressive coworkers that you won’t be a victim, they tend to ease up.
5. Find a witness to back you up
You do not have to interact with a confrontational colleague alone. If you feel like you may be threatened, bring a big burly coworker or anyone else you trust to the meeting.
If safety isn’t an issue, meet your workplace bully by yourself. Meeting them alone may result in more cooperation from the individual. Bullies get a thrill off of performing for others.
If this isn’t a concern, you might want to consider the opposite approach. This coworker of yours could be more reasonable without an audience present. Bullies love to perform for others, so the fewer people present the better in this situation.
6. Get help from higher-ups
Don’t go into this situation alone. Instead, involve your boss or possibly even human resources.
If you go this route, be sure to tread lightly. You have no idea who hangs with who after work. If nothing else the past 10 years in a cubicle farm, have taught me that workplace alliances are not always obvious.
7. Start a paper trail
In a competitive game of “he said, she said”, your detailed notes could be the tiebreaker. The more notes you take the better.
Make notes detailing the things said by the aggressive coworker, the time, day, coworkers who were present and any impact these things had on your work.
If your coworker continues their rampage through the office, these notes could come in handy later.
While reading this you likely thought about your own workplace bully.
They’ve probably been at your company for years and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Because of, this it’s important that you learn how to deal with these individuals skillfully. Doing some of the things mentioned above can not only enhance your reputation at work, but also provide you with confidence knowing you can mange aggressive coworkers.
Nick Bryant is a Counselor with 11 years of experience working in community health. He enjoys concerts, walks with the doggo and wife, mocking Dallas Cowboy fans, and sharing community resources. Jump on the Houston Case Managers email list to receive weekly community resource guides delivered directly to your inbox.