Even in the workplace, where professionalism is expected at all times, hostility can arise from employees. Emotions can run high and lead some professionals to voice their unhappiness. This can place many of their coworkers in an uncomfortable position and create more tension on top of impending deadlines or high workloads. One of the most important lessons you can learn as an HR professional is how to effectively and carefully respond to this kind of hostile behavior.
Each human resources professional will have their own style of dealing with delicate situations. In most situations, you simply have to help the employee to understand how their behavior is coming across. No matter your approach, these are a few tips you can incorporate in order to help a hostile employee:
“This is not acceptable behavior.”
Sometimes all it takes is a quick, respectful conversation. Simple statements pointing out that their behavior is unacceptable or that it’s not okay to speak in such a tone can work. Their emotions may be keeping them from seeing that their behavior is disruptive and hurtful. Make sure you make these statements with a firm but calm tone.
Be careful not to fuel the fire.
Before addressing the hostile employee, check your own tone first and prepare to go in with a neutral and respectful stance. These tips rely on you remaining professional yourself. This includes refraining from any and all gossip, maintaining a respectful tone, and avoid coming from a place charged with anger.
Tell them the consequences.
Hostility can easily lead to termination—and the employee should know that. They should be aware of the consequences of continuing this kind of behavior, including consequences from the company itself and their coworkers. Ill-tempered behavior is going to hamper their ability to work with others, meet deadlines, and perform even basic tasks with their team.
Begin the conversation by letting them know you want to understand their perspective. Find the cause of their feelings and listen to what they have to say. The employee needs to know you want to hear their side of the story, if there is one. Make it a two-sided conversation and ask questions, rather than simply giving a lecture on their behavior.
Look at situations with hostile employees as an opportunity to gain respect and experience. Conflict resolution is an important skill to master, and your company will respect you for handling these situations properly.