Confrontational employee – do you have one in your team? The individuals that are going to join your team have to fit in as regard to their character, personality, and temperament. The compatibility facilitates understanding and cooperation and minimizes the risk of conflicts at the same time. Sometimes however even the best adjustment doesn’t work and the employee becomes a source of problems in the team. How to find a common ground with the problematic staff member to stop the conflict from escalation. Read the text to find out more.

Confrontational employee – table of contents:

  1. Confrontational employee – plan your speech ahead
  2. Active listening
  3. Be ready for any possibility
  4. Stick to the facts
  5. Catch your breath and stay focused
  6. Summary

Confrontational employee – plan your speech ahead

Regardless if the conflict was caused by the repetitive behavior of the employee or just one situation careful preparation before the conversation is the simplest way to stay calm and not aggravate the situation. Well-thought-off and extremely careful selection of words, as well as the calm tone of voice, joined with the open attitude and gentle expression of the face show the willingness to resolve the conflict. Such an approach meets with a positive response by the confrontational employee.

Active listening

Similarly important is what is being said and what can you hear – make sure that you keep your mind open and you are ready to listen to your employee. You cannot start the conversation with preconvinced notions about the conflict and you cannot have ideas on how to resolve the conflict before you talk with everyone involved. All trials to impose a solution may result in further persistence of disagreement. After such an attempt the fault will be on your side. Active listening is one of the most important tools for HR specialists.

Effective communication is surely a challenge, but active listening is the only option for the achievement of good results, especially that the employee, who is seen as confrontational or angry, is not always the only reason for the conflict to appear.

Be ready for any possibility

Will the employee raise his voice or attack you verbally? Will the employee pulls out or accepts your point of view? You never know, how a person will react in a given situation, but you can predict some of the responses and try to practice the scenarios of your possible reactions. It is very important not to get surprised by the confrontational employee during the conversation – try not to lose your position.

Well-practiced responses or behavior within the framework of the most popular scenarios will enable one to start the conversation with a calm, steady attitude. One should remember that it is not about having responses to all questions ready, but more about the preparation that provides a better frame of mind.

Stick to the facts

Try to find out exactly what is the reason for the conflict – the inappropriate behavior can be related to work itself, cooperation in the team, or personal problems of the employee. You have to understand the employee and his needs before you start your conversation with him.

During the meeting with the employee be concrete, precise and truthful. The more serious your approach there is a higher probability that the confrontational employee will understand and accept that his behavior is problematic.

Stick to the fact, that doesn’t deal with the emotional issues of employees, concentrate on specific behavior and situations. Try not to accuse the employee of anything, don’t make accusations, and stick to the point because your approach is the most crucial during the process.

Confrontational employee

Catch your breath and stay focused

As an HR specialist, you should present objectivity and calmness in a situation of conflict. It will be difficult if you let your emotions surface. Before the conversation make sure that your mental state is good enough to resolve the problem. To calm yourself down try yoga, meditation, or physical exercise. Stay positive and don’t get defensive or aggressive. This is the best way to deal with a confrontational employee.

If you can stay calm, then you will be able to understand the situation and find a solution together with the angry employee. If you are not able to remain calm, then it is best to take a break from the conversation until you can speak in a calmer tone of voice.


There are many different ways to deal with confrontational employees. Some managers may choose to be more aggressive and use threats or punishments to get the job done while others may choose a more passive approach like giving the employee some time off or using positive reinforcement. There is no right answer as every manager has their style and what works best for one person may not work for another.

Managers need to be aware of the effect that their words and actions can have on their employees. The best way to deal with a confrontational employee is to avoid confrontation. You mustn’t escalate the situation by engaging in a fight. A good way to handle this situation is to get the employee some help and support. You can offer them coaching sessions or a mentor who will help them with their personal development. This will help you build a better relationship with them and improve their performance at work.

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Confrontational employee. 5 great ways to stay calm, de-escalate and handle the conflict perfectly nicole mankin avatar 1background

Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.