How To Handle Crying At Work

July 3, 2016 - 4 minutes read

How To Handle Crying At Work

“There’s no crying at work”

Crying at work is a taboo topic and although no one wants to be in a situation where they may cry at work, there are situations when it will happen. One cause may be that something personal happened unexpectedly. Another cause may be involvement in a difficult conversation. Either way, most managers or leaders will be in a situation where a team member may cry at some point in their career. In this week’s quick tip, we provide input for helping make these situations as comfortable as possible.

Reach Out To Human Resources

If you’re in a position where you can anticipate that crying at work may occur, reach out to human resources. Often times the human resources team can provide input for guiding a conversation and if needed, they can sit in on a discussion if it’s helpful. In addition, it’s good to have someone in human resources aware of a difficult circumstance or situation so you can send an upset team member to them for support. The more support you can give to someone who may become upset, the better.

No Surprises

This point is brought up often in our leadership quick tips, including our recent blog about how to have difficult conversations. When someone is caught off guard, emotions can quickly become uncontrollable, which means that someone may cry as a result. As a leader, it’s important to keep your team members updated on where they stand and this includes delivering news that they may not be meeting expectations. These types of conversations should be taking place in weekly 1 to 1 sessions or frequent touch base sessions. If there is a situation where a leader needs to deliver uncomfortable news, it is best that the recipient isn’t caught entirely off guard. There’s no guarantee that doing this will prevent someone from crying, however, it will help make the conversation as comfortable as possible.

Practice Empathy

When having a difficult conversation, be empathetic in the delivery. When a person believes that you care about them and their situation, it helps with the comfort level of the conversation. Be forward, honest, and do so in a calm, empathetic manner.

Hide The Tissue

If you are in a position of leadership, hide the tissue. If a person sees a box of tissue sitting on your desk when they suspect that a difficult conversation may happen, it will put them in a place of discomfort right away. By not having tissue on your desk, it also gives you a reason to leave the room and retrieve tissue all while giving both you and the team member some space. Giving your team member some time to compose themselves will help with comfort levels.

Work Becomes Secondary

Whether the situation is personal and unexpected or is related to a difficult work-related conversation, anytime someone begins to cry, work becomes secondary. Give the team member the space and support they need to get through this difficult time, whatever that may be.

Handling crying at work isn’t an easy task as a leader. However, these tips should help diffuse stress levels associated with these types of situations.

Did we miss something? If you use a certain technique for providing leadership training related to crying at work, leave a comment below and tell us all about it. The more we learn, the better we become.