Want to save this page for later?

NextGen Magazine


Four Steps for Dealing with an Angry Person

Jason Wong
Published Date:
Aug 2, 2016

ArguingPeople care deeply about and invest a lot of themselves in their careers, so it’s no wonder that they can also get angry when work doesn’t go their way. Dealing with someone that is angry can be very unpleasant, but there are a few steps you can take to make the process go more smoothly. Here are four tips from The Daily Muse on handling the situation with professional aplomb:

Acknowledge their feelings. The first thing to do is to show the person that you can empathize with how they’re feeling. Instead of saying something like, “I know you’re frustrated but…” or “That wasn’t my fault,” which both focus on you, consider something more along the lines of “You’re upset, I get it.”

Consider context. You want to sound like you’re not making excuses or patronizing them, so you should also consider the context of what’s happened, i.e. answering as candidly as possible, “Why is this person upset (with me)?” Adding context can help show the person that you weren’t ignoring them or throwing them under the bus, just a couple reasons they might be mad at you.

Take responsibility (if applicable). If it applies to the situation, apologize. However, don’t apologize by default, only if you mean it and you’re really at fault. If/when you admit to fault, follow it up by using the aforementioned strategy of adding context.

Figure out what to do next. The most optimal way to end the conversation is to hammer out how to proceed from there. If you’re dealing with an angry client, explain how you’ll ensure the mistake doesn’t happen again. If there isn’t an obvious way to address the problem, offer to bring their grievances to someone higher up on the totem pole, or if the angry person is your boss, offer to follow up with them on the issue at a later time.