Hot Head(42233)
Credit: Photo by Juan Davila

They are everywhere. No matter where you work you have that one person who seems to fly off the handle no matter what you say to them. When you are in their presence you find that you are constantly walking on egg shells and constantly rethinking and reviewing everything you say and do around them. 

There may be a case wherein they decide to call you up on the way you so rudely bent your pinky finger in their direction. I mean "how dare you!" And do you ever notice that anything that is done is never their fault? Or that all debriefings must revolve around their issue being addressed and all others are not important?

Do you try to talk to a hot head one on one and find that you can't get a word in edgewise? Even worse, you somehow end up feeling like everything is your fault, although all evidence points to the contrary. Listen you are not alone, hot heads are everywhere, but somehow they are most troublesome and annoying at work.

So how do you deal with hot heads at work?

Acknowledgment and validation.

I know you must be wondering, "What! What do you mean?" Let me elaborate. 

Acknowledgment and validation is very important for a hot head. A hot head will not hear a thing you say if it is not about them. Yes I know this is difficult to accept but hear me out before you shut me down. Speaking of which, a hot head will shut you down and out the minute you start to talk about how you feel, I mean really, it's not about you right? It's all about the hot head! It sucks but it's true; put your ego aside, maintain your cool and be professional, in the end hot heads always end up looking like idiots anyway.

Imagine this; they are raising their voice, their hands are flapping, their eyes are bulging and there you are calmly looking at them. Outsiders will be able to spot and pinpoint where the trouble is stemming from, don't gravitate to their level.

Start the conversation out like this:

  • "I understand where you are coming from"
  • "What you are feeling is this," calmly restating everything they said
  •  "So you are saying it happened this way"
  • "I am sorry that you are feeling this way"
  • "What you are saying makes sense"
Are you getting my drift? Once they have simmered down start providing your side of the story. Not only will you end up looking more professional but you may be able to sort through the problem together and avoid an unnecessary escalation of an issue.
Make them feel special, validated, acknowledged, and listened to. I guarantee they will dial down and shut up and be more open and receptive to what you have to say. If they still don't simmer, let them know you would love to continue the conversation but you don't want to be offensive and would therefore need some time to gather your thoughts and immediately walk away.