When an Employee Can’t Control Emotions in the Workplace

When an employee can’t control their emotions at work, it can be a problem. Whether it’s from problems at home or something which was said at work, it can disrupt the workplace. Emotions uncontrolled can cause overreactions all around too, especially if there is insensitivity by a co-worker or perceived unreasonable expectations from management because of a problem. This is even truer if everyone involved has worker good work records because then they may feel slighted if things are not handled right. Also, if there are issues at home and the employee is already upset, then anything which can be taken personally by that employee may be.

Of course, you as the boss already have a full plate, but you can’t ignore this problem. So, how do you handle an emotional employee at work? If you ignore the problem, it won’t disappear because the employee will focus on what’s upsetting them more than the work they’re doing. Plus, if it leaks over into the workplace it soon can cause productivity issues then with the all other employees in the department. What do you do?

These are some tips below to help you restore the balance of the workplace and get everyone back to work again:

  • Look for emotional signals and cues: If you observe the workplace environment, you can often find emotional signals which your staff is giving off. These could be body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. Pay close attention so that you can tell how your employees are doing.
  • If an employee is upset, empathize: When an employee is upset, don’t ignore the situation or become impatient. Also, telling them to just deal with it isn’t the correct response either. You need to take a few minutes and talk to your employee. Show compassion and find out what the problem is. When you show empathy, it can build better relationships with your employees.
  • Find out what the triggers are: In an emotional response, there’s always an underlying emotional trigger. Try to figure out what that trigger is and why your employee is responding the way they are. Don’t judge them but listen to what they have to say and what their concerns are. If you employee feels that they are respected and heard, it can go a long way.
  • Fixing the problem: Once you find out what the problem is, then you may be able turn it around into a positive change. A problem which is caused by an emotional situation sometimes can’t be solved by the person who’s reacting to it. You can help them find the solution, get them the help that they may need, or resolve the conflict which may be causing the problem. There could be programs in place such as coaching, communication and conflict skills training or employee assistance programs. Sometimes though there are limits on the help that you can provide because marital conflicts are so personal even if you offer marital counseling if needed in your employment benefits package.
  • Give them space to recover: Sometimes to help an employee deal with what is stressing them out is to provide some space. It could be some time off, a longer break in the day or shortening the workload for a little bit of time. It can help the employee to more effectively deal with what’s upsetting them if they don’t have to worry about work performance as well.
  • Upholding their dignity: When an employee cries at work or gets emotional, they may feel as if they’re dignity is threatened. Don’t make an employee feel embarrassed or punish them for crying at work. Most employees are already embarrassed that they have shown emotion in an unprofessional way. But if your employee’s emotions have reached an unmanageable level where there is anger that is uncalled for, then other options need to be considered. These could be conflict resolution formal counseling, or, in a case of harmful or abusive behavior from others or the person, disciplinary action.
  • Train your managers and supervisors: When you train your managers and supervisors in communication skills, management practice which is positive, and conflict management; this gives them the tools they need. These tools can be used to manage emotional issues which could crop up in the workplace. It will reduce the reoccurrence of negative emotions.

Most people consider tears to be unprofessional, but being human, emotions can get even the best of us. By showing compassion and empathy, the situation is better controlled.