Here are 5 tips to deal with a difficult colleague – professionally!


“He that can have patience can have what he will.” Benjamin Franklin

We all react to different situations differently. Some sulk, some cry in corner, some get angry, and others...well, act out aggressively. Aggression can be both verbal and physical, for example shouting or banging on walls or desks. When people get into a situation that involves conflict, they tend to take the path of aggression in order to defend their own interest at the cost of others.

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Such behaviour can create a scene in the office premises and attract unwanted attention. An aggressive colleague must be dealt with, very gently, calmly and directly. If you partake in the unnecessary bickering with the other person, it will not only make you lose your calm but also show up as major marks of disgrace on the kind of professionalism you practice.

Here are five tips to handle an aggressive colleague, professionally:

Don’t fight it

The last thing you want to do is add fuel to the fire, or even better, fight fire with fire! If you tend to show aggression in the hopes of calming the other person down, you are out of luck because aggression only leads to more aggression. Speak in an ever so gentle manner in order to still be in control of the situation.

Point it out

Sometimes a gentle reminder of their behaviour is enough to reorganise them and calm them down. Be compassionate about their feelings and make sure you do not speak in a condescending tone while dealing with them. A firm yet confronting pointer is all people need in order to revaluate the situation at hand and act accordingly.

Give time to cool down

Aggressive behaviour is only indicative of the fact that the person has lost all self-control. The best policy while dealing with an aggressive colleague is to let them be. Take a break from the conversation and resume later, only when he or she has calmed down completely. Alternatively, you can try taking the conversation to a little more private space inside the office, like a vacant conference room.

Ask for help

Matters heat up and things tend to get blown out of proportion. In times like these, a mediator might be of some help. If you feel like dealing with an aggressive colleague alone is something that you cannot handle, asking an alliance for help might be your way out. Ask them to talk on your behalf, or seek suggestions from them.

Pick your battles

Of course, there are times when a matter just cannot go unanswered, but in order to avoid embarrassing situations, one must choose the high road. Not all aggressive people have to be dealt with. Just do your work and try to avoid them, without it being obvious, as much as you can. Do not involve with them, if that is something you can do without harming your career!

Dealing with difficult people is a skill that needs to be learned. Yes, it takes time, but remember patience is the key. The moment you lose your sense of balance and get involved, you become akin to them. To be the bigger person, one needs to take the high road and let things slide once in a while, both personally and professionally.


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