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How to Stop Being Angry at a Frustrating Coworker in 7 Easy Steps

It’s never a pleasant experience when you have a falling out with a coworker. You can’t necessarily give that person a piece of your mind, and it’s definitely not wise to sweep the situation under the rug, because that will only makes things worse for everyone in the end. What’s an angry, disgruntled worker to do?
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Understand What Anger Is

Although anger isn’t necessarily an emotion that we’re proud of, it is a vital component of our survival. “Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats,” so it triggers emotions that “allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked,” according to anger specialist, psychologist Charles Spielberger, PhD.

However, just because anger is part of our natural survival instincts, doesn’t mean it’s OK to lash out at everyone and everything that makes you angry, especially in the workplace. Use these seven steps to help get your anger under control and handle the situation professionally, before it turns into a hostile work environment for you and your coworker.

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  1. Remove yourself from the toxic person/situation.

The best thing to do when you feel your anger rising is to physically remove yourself from the environment and go somewhere that allows you some privacy and time to regroup. Staying in the situation or with the person who’s making you mad will only fuel the fire, so do yourself a favor and go get some space.

  1. Allow yourself to be angry.

People often mistake burying their anger with dealing with it. Don’t try and convince yourself that you’re not angry, because that will only make things worse. Allow yourself some time to feel your anger, so that you can better understand why you’re angry and how to manage the situation in a levelheaded and professional manner.

Otherwise, you’ll fool yourself into thinking that you’re OK (when you’re really not), and the next time your coworker does something to upset you, it’ll all come pouring out in one anger-filled rant — making you look bad in front of your peers and supervisors.

People often mistake burying their anger with dealing with it. Don't try and convince yourself that you're not angry, because that will only make things worse.Click To Tweet
  1. Pay attention to how anger is affecting your physical body and mind.

During episodes of anger and rage, your judgment becomes clouded and you may become more agitated, annoyed, and aggressive than usual. If you’re not careful, this rage can cause you to do and say things that you may regret later.

Therefore, sit in your anger and try to pay attention to how the feelings are affecting your thoughts and your body. You’ll notice that your body is tenser and your thoughts are racing. Your heart rate will be high because of all the adrenaline pumping through your body. Recognizing what anger does to your body and mind may help you realize that it’s not worth it to let someone else affect you like this, which will hopefully bring you a sense of control that will allow you to start coming down from your rage.

  1. Understand that you have control over your anger.

When you’re in a fit of rage, it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost control of your emotions and actions, which is a scary feeling. However, remember that your anger does not control you, you control your anger. It’s understandable that your ego is bruised and you’re feeling wild, crazy emotions, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the ability to stop this from continuing.

The first step in actually managing the physical and psychological effects of anger is to understand that you’re in the driver’s seat and have full control. You choose whether you want to sit and wallow in negativity, or do something constructive to deal with the situation in a mature and professional manner — ultimately, it’s your choice, not anyone else’s.

  1. Practice deep breathing or meditate.

Now that you’ve got a grip on your emotions, it’s time to regain control of your mind, body, and energy. Start by practicing some deep breathing and focus predominately on your breaths and nothing else. This will allow your body to physically calm down, which will in turn allow you to regroup and regain your clarity. Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique to help calm your central nervous system and counteract stress.

Another way to regain focus and control is to meditate. You don’t have to be a pro at meditating to benefit from the practice; all you have to do is sit quietly, without interruption, and focus on your breathing and the present. Don’t ruminate about what happened or what may happen. Just focus on what you’re doing in the moment, which should be breathing. If it helps, put in some ear buds and play some calming, meditative music. If you find your thoughts wandering off, simply bring your focus back to your breathing.

  1. Try to pinpoint why you’re angry.

Some common elements of anger include feelings of unfairness, loss, blame, pain, and focus on things we fear and don’t want to happen, says Tina Su in her article for Think Simple Now. Try to figure out why you’re so angry and whether or not it has something to do with things going on in your life. For example, consider these questions:

  • Are you projecting your emotions/insecurities onto the other person, or vice versa?
  • Are you being too sensitive?
  • Are you having a bad day?
  • Do you need to establish better boundaries with this person?
  • Are you overextending yourself to others?
  • Are you expecting too much from this person?

The point of this exercise is to figure out where the anger is coming from. Often, if you’re going through a tough time in your personal life, it’s easy to carry those struggles into the workplace and take it out on others, without even knowing you’re doing it. Likewise, you may feel like you’re being taken advantage of if you’re constantly helping others out at work and falling short in your own work. Try to figure out what’s sparking the anger so that you can better understand how to deal with it.

  1. Vent to a trusted source.

If all else fails, vent to someone you trust — because sometimes the best medicine for a fit of rage is to just get it all out. Be sure that this person will provide you with constructive and mature advice that will help your situation, not worsen it.

For the sake of not contributing to office gossip, consider venting to someone who isn’t your coworker — maybe a trusted friend or family member, your significant other, or even your therapist, if you have one. Refrain from venting to your boss, especially if they’re a source of your anger.

Hopefully these steps will help you navigate your anger so that you can find some clarity and resolution. Working in an environment where there are so many different personalities can be challenging, but that’s not to say it’s impossible. Sometimes, these negative situations at work bring you closer to coworkers from whom you would otherwise distance yourself. Try to find the silver lining in all this, because we all have our struggles — they just might look different from the outside.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have something to add to the list? Share your pearls of wisdom with our community on Twitter, or leave your advice below in the comments section.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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CHRISTIE WAGNER
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CHRISTIE WAGNER

Useless article. A useful article would have included how to stop the root cause of the anger: the disruptive co-worker’s actions. Stopping the disruptive co-worker’s actions is the best and perhaps only way to stop the affected employee from getting upset.
The author’s feeble procedures make me wonder how much workplace experience–if any–she’s had as an observer or receiver of hostile actions by a co-worker.

stellamarie
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stellamarie

Christie—YOU are the root cause of the anger—your OWN anger—you own that. That is what the author of this article is trying to say, though the message gets lost in the wordiness. By controlling your own feelings, you disarm the employee who is the source of your own anger. It’s no different than a person perceived as a bully. A bully thrives on the reaction of his/her victim. If you don’t react, or just walk away, that person doesn’t get the reaction they were counting on from you. Same treatment should be used for bullies on the highways—don’t gesture or… Read more »

Ben
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Ben

When lazy workers do half-assed jobs, that impact your work …
When promised promotions don’t happen ….
When promised raises don’t happen …
When workers from other departments manage to get their work transferred to you …
When nepotism reigns supreme …
Those are reasons to be angry.
The “grin and bare it” mentality doesn’t work.

Susan G
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Susan G

Duh, try to pinpoint why you are angry? How about because my co worker is an immature a**hole? This has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever read.

A. Ventura
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A. Ventura

Unhelpful waste of time article. How you deal with anger in a constructive way is a life skill, but this doesn’t offer any advice or suggestions on how to communicate with problematic co-workers in order to resolve (to the degree possible) a problem that is not going to go away. Please don’t post generalized articles without real recommendations.

Sister Shepherd!
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Sister Shepherd!

I’m learning that angry coworkers can dish out anger but they can’t take it! When you treat them the same way they treat you they wanna get SUPER OFFENDED AND TURN INTO THE VICTIM! They wanna run and tell leadership that it’s you! They always try to assasinate your character!

Pammy Jones
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Pammy Jones

SOMETIMES, and in this case, the person is boundary-less! and clueless, (OR< knows EXACTLY what they are doing! ) and most likely very psychologically damaged. So the co-workers are also supposed be the psychologist/psychiatrist? The bad-boundaries and damages have been a part of this person since childhood…..!! People like this make a workplace toxic, …of COURSE I am mad! "Frustrating co-worker "is not the right description for the toxic personality that these people bring to the workplace….If the person is doing their JOB perfectly, but they have no social or businessboundaries, then what's one to do? Usually, they are also… Read more »

Craig
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Craig

Perhaps the point of the article is indeed how to control your reaction to a frustrating co-worker, but the fact remains that something is causing the frustration. And without the supervisor having it brought to his/her attention, the situation will continue and more likely get worse. A better article would be “how to raise co-worker challenges to your boss’s attention without being a tattle tail.” Most supervisors want to empower their subs and allow them to solve their own problems because they don’t want to deal with them. But when one confronts another co-worker re: their slacking, poor quality, or… Read more »

realmad
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realmad

this article made me unsubscribe from payscale emails

stellamarie
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stellamarie

WHAT PEOPLE NEED TO REALIZE, is that by reacting to whatever the other coworker is saying or doing, is exactly what that coworker is looking for—YOUR REACTION—IT EMPOWERS THEM. The BEST thing you can do is say nothing, smile at them, and walk away. This will completely disarm them. If they are the manipulative kind (and I’ve worked with several), your brush off will leave them completely befuddled, and they will turn their attentions elsewhere. Regardless of how infuriating a coworkers words or actions may seem—YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS. No one can MAKE you angry—YOUR ANGER IS… Read more »

Mark
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Mark

I know why I get angry at my work, it got so bad that I complained to my Area manager. It’s one person who has become close to my boss, he has encouraged him to think that he is senior whilst telling everyone he isn’t. This has resulted in him thinking he is in charge without having to take any responsibility. The main issues are he is unwilling to compromise, makes me feel invisible and tries to dodge my suggestions, and too many times I have had to fix his mistakes as a result of his behaviour and he gets… Read more »

Pammy
Guest
Pammy

SOMETIMES, and in this case, the person is boundary-less! and clueless, (OR< knows EXACTLY what they are doing! ) and most likely very psychologically damaged. So the co-workers are also supposed be the psychologist/psychiatrist? The bad-boundaries and damages have been a part of this person since childhood…..!! People like this make a workplace toxic, …of COURSE I am mad! "Frustrating co-worker "is not the right description for the toxic personality that these people bring to the workplace….If the person is doing their JOB perfectly, but they have no social or business boundaries, then what's one to do? Usually, they are… Read more »

stellamarie
Guest
stellamarie

Pammy, I have had coworkers and bosses like you describe. It all comes down to the same thing—they get their kicks off of YOUR REACTION. Your reaction causes their power. On more than one occasion I have had to disagree with a boss or a coworker on a particular point, project, or situation. Their attitude is typically that they are right, and by you disagreeing with them, they like to indicate that it is YOUR behavior that is bringing things down (in which case they might be right if you are the one reacting to their ineptness or control issues).… Read more »

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