It’s natural to feel helpless or uncomfortable when someone cries in front of you in the office. But remember that tears are a normal human reaction, not a sign of weakness. If someone you work with starts to well up, here’s how to handle it:
- Acknowledge the tears. Don’t ignore them. Use the occasion to analyze and assess what’s going on, not judge the crier.
- Offer a tissue. This gives the person a chance to breathe and gather thoughts. It also communicates that you’re paying attention.
- Recognize a problem. Crying means something needs to be addressed: The person is overworked, stressed, sick, or frustrated. This is an opportunity to identify the underlying issue and move forward with clarity.
Adapted from “How to Handle Tears at Work” by Anne Kreamer.