Six Ways to Treat an Angry Employee

The Angry Employee

Sooner or later, a manager must be the bearer of bad news. If it’s a termination or disciplinary notice, employees may react with anger. If the anger is directed at you, it’s perfectly normal to become frustrated and defensive. Learn how to resist this impulse and maintain control of yourself and the situation.

Acquire a way to set aside the personal attacks and the guilt employees aim at you and the company. In most cases, the person being disciplined earned the consequence. They may not want to take responsibility and will blame you, the company, the system, their life, etc. Don’t get caught up in that game.


It is like my high school teacher once told me when I asked why he had flunked me in a class.  He said, “I didn’t fail you. You worked hard to earn that F, just like others worked hard to earn their A’s.” If you find an employee is playing the blame game and is diverting the discussion away from him or herself, focus on the legitimate business issues, and don’t make judgments.

From raunchy reality shows to parent brawls at Little League games, incivility seems to be everywhere.  Therefore,rudeness has also invaded the workplace. Squabbling employees, screaming managers, colleagues who never respond to emails, co-workers who send texts while you’re talking to them… all these people seem to have forgotten the basic rules of courtesy and respect.

Remain Controlled

To help keep an angry employee under control, you must keep yourself under control. These six tips can guide you when confronting an angry employee:

  1. Stay calm. Watch your tone of voice and volume.
  2. Watch your non-verbal signals. Stay away from confrontational body language such as finger pointing, hands on hips, eye rolling, or crossed arms. Stay out of personal space. Certainly, avoid physical contact, even if it’s meant to be reassuring.
  3. Be respectful. Always avoid embarrassing the person or making them feel ashamed. These frustrations only escalate their anger.
  4. Allow the employee to talk. Give the employee a chance to tell his or her side. Oftentimes, an employee’s main frustration stems from concerns that he isn’t being heard. Unless he is being disrespectful or out of control, let him speak.
  5. Use active listening. Repeat back what the employee has said in your own words. Example:“Mary, if I understand you correctly, you are angry because you feel you are being discriminated against because you are the only woman in your department.  Also, you feel frustrated because you expect me to do more than I’ve done about your complaints up until this point. Is that correct?”
  6. Retain control of the conversation. End the meeting if the employee grows more agitated as the conversation progresses. Reschedule the meeting after a brief cooling-off period, when the conversation can be more productive.

Assess the outcome

Take time later to reflect on the confrontation. Was the person calmer when you finished or more upset? What did you say or do that helped the situation or made matters worse? Reflecting on your words, actions, and outcomes will help you be more effective next time.

P.S. If you find this newsletter helpful, please consider sharing it with your friends, family, and colleagues. If you need assistance, call 940-228-0550. You can visit my website for more information at