How to handle aggressive behaviour in the workplace

Knowing how to handle aggressive behaviour can be difficult, especially in the workplace. Verbal and physical aggression from others should never be accepted as ‘just part of the job’. Therefore, employees must be informed/trained on how to handle the first signs of aggression before they escalate. Let’s start by spotting the early signs of aggression. 

Aggressive behaviour

Warning signs before the onset of aggressive behaviour include:  

  • Sudden mood change
  • Change in body language
  • Shouting and swearing
  • Clinched fists and flushed skin

How should you handle the above signs of aggression to avoid the situation getting worse? Read on to find out more.

1.) Listen and understand

Aggression isn’t acceptable in any circumstance. However, aggression usually has a root cause, so you should begin by listening to their frustrations to determine why they are becoming aggressive in the first place. Make sure it’s clear that you’re listening by nodding your head or engaging in the conversation by asking questions.

2.) Stand up for yourself while remaining calm

People often use aggression as a tactic to get what they want. Most who are faced with aggression are too afraid to stand up for themselves, resulting in the aggressive individual achieving what they wanted. If you stand up for yourself, you will gain some control over the situation, and the person will hopefully back down. However, even if the other person is shouting at you, it’s important that you remain as calm as possible. If you raise your voice or show signs of engaging in a fight, you’ll only fuel the person’s anger.

3.) Manage stress 

Don’t take the aggressive behaviour personally. The person might not be able to change their behaviour due to an illness or head injury. Just remember that the aggression isn’t aimed at you.

3.) Don’t tell them to calm down

Telling someone to calm down when they’re angry is never a good idea. People don’t like being told what to do if they’re already showing signs of frustration.

4.) Stay safe

Trust your gut. If you have tried all of the above and the person is still showing continuous signs of aggression or is becoming progressively more aggressive, seek help using your lone worker device. You do not want to put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. An operator from our ARC will listen to the situation and take the appropriate action to help you.