Tips for Remaining Professional in Hostile Situations

It’s no secret that work is a huge source of stress for the majority of the population, even if they love their jobs. Companies have been downsizing left and right, there are less employees and larger workloads with the same deadlines to meet. With so many things to focus on, alleviating stress doesn’t seem to be on the top of most “to-do" lists these days and honestly that’s where most of the hostility in the workplace is coming from. It can be hard to remain calm when someone is taking out his or her unhappiness on you but you can only control yourself in life. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re trying to keep your cool with the stressed-out masses.

Controlled Breathing

Don’t ever underestimate the power of controlled breathing, it calms the mind and body quickly. The connection between mental stress and physical ailments has been long proven. The last thing you want is to let work-stress affect your overall health. Participating in calming activities such as yoga and meditation help keep you in the right mindset to deal with difficult people. While you’re on the job, applying those same controlled breathing and visualization techniques will help get you back to that inner calm in a pinch.


Communication is always key in any situation. Lets face it, after dealing with similar people with similar problems day in and day out, you think you’ve heard it all. You feel your eyes start to glaze over as you proceed to zone out- Stop! Treat everyone and their little problems like the unique snowflake they feel they are because that’s what you’re getting paid to do. It doesn’t matter if the person you’re dealing with is irate or not, they soon will be if you can’t listen to what they’re saying, reflect back respectfully and relevantly, then take said information and apply it appropriately.


The goal is to reach an understanding. It’s not always about attitude or efforts on the part of either party. Often times the communication process is hindered because the other person doesn’t actually know what they want. It’s your job to help them realize that need and then actualize it for them. Direct the conversation in a way that allows them to come to the right conclusion. By asking the right questions you can figure out where the void really is and how to fill it, even with tempers flaring.

Pass the baton

Sometimes you just have to pass the baton off. Tap out! Don’t feel guilty or inadequate if you can’t solve a problem or make someone happy. It’s okay to go to a supervisor for help; that is what they’re there for after all. It’s better to admit ignorance on a subject than to attempt to fumble your way through a situation and risk making matters worse for all parties.

Whether it’s a co-worker or a client you should always remain calm and professional no matter the situation; your employment status and your sanity demand it. Keep in mind, you are not you at work. You are a representative of the company you work for and all they stand for. Apply these techniques daily and watch how much calmer and happier you feel and how much smoother your week goes.


Photo Credit: Bioians Joo Young