Difficult personalities in the workplace #4 – Ragers
A rager is someone who gets angry or upset easily – someone with a short temper. The majority of ragers will never commit physical acts of violence, but they can be very mentally and emotionally draining.
What is a rager?
A rager is someone who gets angry or upset easily – someone with a short temper. The majority of ragers will never commit physical acts of violence, but they can be very mentally and emotionally draining. Some of their behaviours can fall into the category of bullying. Having a short temper can be related to anxiety and stress.
Why is it difficult to work with a rager?
A rager can make you dread your day at work, leaving you feeling on edge, fearful, and helpless. They can threaten, humiliate, or intimate you, sabotage your ability to get your work done, or abuse you verbally.
Is it really possible to work with a rager?
Often there will be certain things that trigger a rager to lose their temper. They might get angry when they are pressured to get work done, feel threatened or out of control, or even when they are tired or hungry. It is important to realise that the problem lies with them and not with you.
The raging manager
Never raise your voice and try not to show that their behaviour has upset you. If your work is on time and correct, they might be overreacting because of something else that happened. If you did do something wrong, don’t make excuses; assume responsibility and apologise. Keep the incident to yourself and never gossip about your manager to your colleagues.
The raging colleague
Stay calm and focus on their behaviour instead of arguing with them. Use their name; hearing their name will cause them to stop and focus. Consider resuming the discussion at a later stage when they have calmed down. If they get violent, consider reporting them to HR.
The raging employee
When your employee loses their temper and starts to scream at you, your first impulse might be to scream back at them. Don’t. Instead, speak very softly. As your reaction is the opposite of what they expected, they will realise that screaming will not get them the attention that they wanted and they will stop screaming. It also gives you the opportunity to model appropriate workplace behaviour.
The raging client
Acknowledge the client’s anger. Ignoring or belittling their anger will only make it worse. It is very important not to be rude to the client, as they may have a valid reason to be angry and you should want to help solve the problem. Ask them to explain the problem to you in detail and patiently make notes of what they say. Ask them if they have suggestions and discuss possible solutions before agreeing on one that suits you both.
Anger is a difficult emotion and we never get taught how to handle it constructively. Trauma and shame form part of us from very early ages, and if we never learn how to manage our responses to our triggers, we grow up to be explosive adults. If you have to deal with angry people, just be aware that they are the problem and not you. Don’t try to change them, as the willingness to change must come from them. If you can’t handle them, consider removing yourself from the situation.