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Emotiotional Intelligence

Supporting Employees Who are Emotional

How Do I Support an Employee Who is Emotional or Upset?

You need to be prepared that an employee may get tearful during your conversation.

During these emotionally charged situations rational suggestions are unlikely to be effective.

The guideline here is to take steps to help the employee return to a state where they are able to take part in a more rational conversation.

Here are some tips to sensitively manage the situation.

  • Move to a private space
  • Offer to call a colleague, friend or family member to support them
  • Be patient, just sitting quietly with someone is offering support
  • Listen to what they have to say, if they want to speak with you
  • Don't ask intrusive questions
  • Don't tell them what to do
  • Don't push for an answer
  • Don't make assumptions based on gossip
  • Reassure the employee that you will do your best to support and help
  • Have to hand details of your companies Employee Assistance programme (EAP), occupational health or any other in house support.

Sometimes extreme situations may arise which are more serious. If someone's behaviour makes you think they may be a danger to themselves or other people then you need to follow this guidance, take action and get help.

It's also important to make sure you manage the situation afterwards appropriately.

Remember you are not a medical expert, you are not expected to provide counselling or specialist support, there are other people who can do that. Your role is, first of all, to think about how to provide an initial response to this situation. Keep these three guidelines in mind at all times:

  • Be honest
  • Be open
  • Act early

It is also worth looking at the guidance given here it's good to talk.

If, after talking to the person you are clear that there is a mental health issue i.e. the person discloses, follow the guidelines outlined in how do I support staff who have told me they have a mental health problem?

How To Manage a Situation Which Becomes Potentially Dangerous

The first thing to consider in this situation is your safety. Because unless you feel safe you can't do anything to help the employee. Then follow these steps:

  • If you feel threatened leave the room and get help
  • Make sure someone else knows of the situation
  • Don't try to restrain someone or to keep them in the room against their will
  • Remember unless you feel safe you cannot offer any help.

In these circumstances you need to hand over responsibility to an appropriate professional who is trained to deal with these situations, this may involve you calling the emergency services.

Make sure you manage the situation appropriately afterwards.

How to Manage the Situation Afterwards

How To Manage The Situation Afterwards To Avoid Any Serious Long-Term Consequences.

Colleagues will need some information but this is best kept simple and matter of fact. The key is to behave at all times in a professional manner.

Do say

  • "John is struggling a bit and has gone home."
  • "Claire has gone to see her doctor."
  • "Michael is quite poorly and we have taken him to see a doctor."
  • "You'll all have noticed that Rachel is not behaving as her normal self today and we have arranged for some professional support. I'll let you know what happens as I get to hear about."

Don't say

  • "John's gone home because he's depressed, his wife's left him"
  • "Claire has been behaving weirdly, as you all know, so we've sent her to the doctor"
  • "Michael was hearing voices, can you believe it? We've got him out of here to the doctor."
  • "You all saw Rachel crying, we had to call an ambulance to stop her killing herself.