Talking to a Coworker Who’s Been Having a Hard Time

We all have bad days at work. But when a colleague is struggling for an extended period of time, how should you be supportive? Try to help them reflect on their feelings and what they need to move forward. (Note this works best when you and the person have a close relationship.)

o For example, you could get them talking by saying: “It seems like something has been bothering you. Can I help?” or “You’ve seemed stressed and preoccupied lately. Would you like to talk about what’s going on?”

o Be careful not to make the person feel judged. Don’t imply they already should have gotten over their problem, and avoid telling them how to feel.

o For example, don’t say: “You should stop worrying so much” or “You’re making too big a deal about this.” Keep in mind that bouncing back takes time — you can’t force someone to feel better.

That said, helping a coworker return to their normal self is usually worth a try.

Adapted from “How to Talk with a Coworker Who’s Having a Tough Time,” by Deborah Grayson Riegel

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