Tip Toeing Around an Angry Co-worker?

Have you ever worked with a person who was like a time bomb waiting to go off?  They were so bad you had to tip toe around them hoping that you could get your work done without setting them off?

Yeah – that’s abusive behavior. This person doesn’t just have anger management problems, they are abusive.

Think about it. In abusive relationships, the victim has to tip toe around the abuser so as to not set them off. The abuser will blame their victim for their rages. If the victim didn’t set them off, they wouldn’t rage. Right? Wrong.

It doesn’t matter what you do – or how well you do it – an abusive person will still find reason to get upset.  And just as you shouldn’t tolerate an abusive relationship, you shouldn’t tolerate an abusive co-worker.

Your first tip that you are dealing with an abusive person is the fact you feel like you have to tip toe around them. Or that you are walking on eggshells, always worried about how they are going to respond. You are worried for good reason, they go off at random.

Their anger fits have nothing to do with those around them and everything to do with their inability to manage their own emotions.

Workplaces are better off without dealing with people with anger management issues. If you are in management, do what you need to do to let them go. The amount of wasted time and resources spent appeasing people who can’t be appeased isn’t worth the effort.

If you are confronted by this – and they are your boss – get out and get another job.  If it is a coworker, have an honest talk with your boss and HR and let them know that something is wrong and that you would like them to start paying attention to this clearly troubled employee and document the problem thoroughly.

People who routinely resolve conflicts with anger are often very unstable and this is not a habit that is easily fixed.  I realize I normally write about how to resolve these sorts of problems with behavioral techniques, but some problems are so bad they require professional support. If you aren’t a trained psychologist, don’t take it on.

If you want more information on how to deal with anger in yourself and others, including when to not engage and leave – check out Dr. Leon Seltzer’s program – managing anger in yourself and others.

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