As a manager, you cannot stop workers from blowing their tops. But you can defuse their fury. Take these steps:
Find the first cause. Barking orders at angry individuals (“Calm down!”) will make matters worse. Instead, separate aggressors and meet with them privately. Ask why they’re acting this way.
When you invite them to explain their anger, most people won’t start at the beginning. They’ll usually jump right to the breaking point. Don’t accept such stories at face value. Prod each person to describe the starting point before tempers flare. By getting them to give you the full history of their conflict, you help them take at least some responsibility for contributing to its escalation.
Explore the choices they made. The best question to ask someone who’s angry is “Why?” Examples: Why did you do that? Why did you feel that way? Why didn’t you walk away?
By asking these questions, you allow others to realize their role in the situation. For instance, a manager asks an agitated clerk, “Why did you throw that stapler? Could you have left the room?” That line of inquiry leads the employee to consider other steps he could have taken.