How to Stop Crying Employees at Work

These five tips will allow you to accept, help, and at the least stop your crying employee in her tears  

Credit: Flickr/dreamers_lair

Employee in tears? Here’s how to stop crying from taking over if you’re the boss

Don’t let someone else’s crying derail you at work. Try these tactics to calm them down

The student was sobbing. “I took this course because it was supposed to be easy!” she wailed. “I paid money for this course!”

The student’s justification for why I should raise her grade may have been unfortunate, but her reaction was common. Whether it’s an employee in tears over a poor performance review or a student breaking down because of hard times at home, few of us know how to react when someone we’re supervising cries.

Five Tips for Surviving (and then Stopping) Others’ Crying

1. Don’t ignore the crying. You both know it’s happening, so why pretend?

2. Model empathy. Even if the person is crying because she’s in trouble with you, there’s no harm in expressing sympathy. “This seems really tough for you,” is all-purpose, true, and kind.

3. Allow the crying person space for her feelings. It’s incredibly difficult to listen to someone cry without doing anything about it, but that’s exactly what you must do if you don’t want to become responsible for fixing the problem that started her crying in the first place.  

4. Offer tissues or tea. You can’t change the situation, whether a dying relative or problem with her work, but you can provide limited, specific comforts without shirking discussion.

5. Draw your own boundaries. If you’ve had enough of the crying or it doesn’t seem to be stopping, suggest the person take a deep breath, spend a moment in the hall or visit the restroom to compose herself before continuing the conversation.

What if you’re the one crying at work? Check out this article in Forbes, and if you want resources for dealing with grief, try the book I describe here.