Studies show that happy employees are about 13% more productive than their dissatisfied counterparts. Managing emotional distress in the workplace isn't just critical for a positive office culture- it has real effects on productivity and profit.
Managing emotional employees can be a challenge, but it's an important aspect of every workplace. Here, we're going to talk about some methods that successful business people use for de-escalating distressed employees. Read on for some tips and tricks on how to handle emotional distress at work.
Read signals and cues
It's important for employers to carefully monitor employees to see their emotional cues throughout the day. Everyone has strong feelings sometimes, and there are emotional signals that showcase how employees feel everywhere in your business.
Body language and facial expressions are visual cues to follow. You also should keep alert for the tone of voice and types of words used to read and understand emotions.
Catching potential signs of pain and anger early makes it easier to prevent further emotional distress. This makes troubleshooting the problem easier since it will not yet have reached its breaking point.
Don't take employee distress personally
It's easy to take an employee's negative emotions personally, especially when you are the person responsible for the workplace climate. You may have an emotional response to their anger or sadness as well. Watch out for this and don't become defensive and frustrated- it will only further escalate the situation.
Keep your tone and words professional, respectful, and calm. Stay focused on the causes behind the situation and performance issues related to the incident. Even if the difficult employee blames you in anger, do not become overly defensive.
Instead, plan to have a constructive conversation later when everyone calms down. Calmness is contagious. Even if you are not looking forward to a future conversation, initial emotional reactions must pass before you can talk about performance, standards, or accountability.
Be empathetic to others' emotional distress
Chances are that you've had a strong emotional reaction at least once in your life. It's even probable that you have had one related to a workplace incident or professional expectation. When you think back on these times, it's easier to put yourself in your employee's shoes and understand their distress.
Never make fun of an employee for crying or having another emotional response. It's your job to preserve their dignity and stop them from becoming embarrassed. Don't make them feel worse about an already uncomfortable situation.
Instead, listen to how they are feeling and what triggered them. Show compassion and let them air it out in a respectable and dignified manner. Empathizing with and being kind to employees helps you to build a stronger professional relationship with them.
Remember to T.H.I.N.K.
The acronym THINK stands for True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind.
It's important that the things you say to employees fit into these parameters. The goal of your conversation is to be positive and affirming while working towards solutions. It isn't to make your employee feel further berated and make them more upset.
Make sure that your words meet these parameters, but also make sure that your actions and cues do. Your body language and tone of voice also need to be solutions-oriented and promote de-escalation. Remember to be kind and affirming- it can go a long way.
Understand causes and prevent future issues
Once you have calmed down an emotional employee, it's important to understand what triggered the strong response. This won't just help you to better understand your employee's pain. It will also let you know how you can prevent similar issues from arising in the future.
For example, if an employee was upset about a missed deadline, you may be able to implement software that allows for better time management and goal-oriented thinking. Employees would no longer need to worry as much about missed deadlines. They would receive reminders to prevent them from forgetting when things are due.
If an employee is upset because a coworker said something insensitive, you may know that you need to invest more time in diversity and sensitivity training. The causes behind the problem let you find solutions to potential future issues before they occur. You can proactively prevent a similar emotional response in the future.
Refer when necessary
When you delve deep into the causes of an emotional outburst, you may find out that it was triggered by something outside of your wheelhouse. For example, an employee may reveal racial discrimination and need to be sent to HR. They also may reveal abuse at home that needs to be reported to the authorities.
In these instances, tell the employee that you care and express concern. However, remember that you aren't a social worker or doctor. Refer them to someone who can help with the causes of the employee's distress if it isn't something that falls within your responsibilities.
Invest in performance management solutions
While handling hard conversations at work can be a challenge, it's critical if you want to keep employees satisfied and maintain high productivity. Now that you know how to handle workers when they are in emotional distress, it's time to invest in a platform that helps you track and improve employee performance and engagement.
Mesh provides you with real-time insights that help you make data-driven decisions. We're committed to providing you with the top OTK and performance management solutions on the market so that you can configure and implement a unique performance management approach. Contact us to request a demo of our highly-rated product today.