The Best Way to Recover Your Rep When You Lose Your Cool at Work

Frustrated woman at work


Tiffany Couch
Tiffany Couch
June 16, 2024 at 7:49PM UTC

It wasn’t quite as bad as Joan Crawford’s “Mommy Dearest”  breakdown with her daughter, but I’m not so sure my coworker didn’t feel the same way that little girl did when I pulled her aside and raked her over the coals for a project that did not meet my expectations. 

Let’s face it. We all get stressed. We all get emotional. Sometimes those feelings are tied to events in the workplace, and  sometimes those feelings have everything to do with what’s going on elsewhere in our lives. While most of us try and manage our stress or upset feelings with exercise, good music, diversion tactics and more, it is only human to have those feelings bubble up to the surface. And when they do, it is often difficult to manage how they will “leak” out. For some, it may be tears. For others, like me, it comes out as anger. 

I’m sure I am not the only woman to lose her cool at work. Objectively, I know that emotional outbursts impact the culture of the office. That said, who hasn’t “lost it” at work at some point? Unfortunately, even one fit of rage can damage your reputation. Here are four steps to take to repair your street cred with coworkers if you do lose your cool. 

1. Apologize. 

Take responsibility for your behavior and say you are sorry, without pointing the finger at anyone but yourself and without expecting an apology in return. Owning your own behavior in an emotionally charged situation can go a long way in repairing relationships.

2. Show remorse.  

True remorse is more than an apology. Take time to reflect on what happened and why it happened. Then, communicate your regret for the situation and your commitment to avoiding a similar outburst in the future. 

3. Attempt to repair. 

In the heat of the moment, we often say things we don’t mean. Look for opportunities to regain that person’s trust and rebuild their faith that you won’t get angry like that again. People tend to be more forgiving if it’s an isolated incident. On the other hand, if you find yourself confronting these types of situations on a routine basis, it might be time to seek outside assistance.  

4. Do not repeat. 

Not repeating the behavior is the best way to repair the long-term relationship. Work to re-establish your reputation as a confident, calm professional who is able to constructively manage potential breakdowns.

Work outbursts are unfortunate. They hurt everyone involved. Understand that it takes time for wounds to heal. Don’t be so quick to send flowers or make a call for happy hour on you – a more meaningful apology, concerted efforts to repair the situation, and displaying behavior appropriate in the workplace will lead to healthier relationships in the future.


Tiffany Couch is the CEO and founder of Acuity Forensics, a forensic accounting and fraud investigation firm that helps unravel complex financial crimes. 

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