Dealing with employees who weep at the workplace

Crying is perhaps one of the most natural reactions to a situation. We are told that we used to weep profusely and for hours on end when we were infants. But then, that is because we hadn’t learnt to talk then! This point is made to underscore the fact that crying comes most naturally to us humans. Isn’t a cry the first sound we made when we arrived on this planet?

Even as adults, we cry when we are sad; we cry when we are depressed, and we cry when we are elated. Haven’t we seen sportsmen crying in both disappointment and in ecstasy? Roger Federer must have wept on all the 17 occasions on which he lifted a Grand Slam trophy! At the other extreme, take your minds back to one of the most memorable sights in the same game –Pete Sampras crying out his heart –when reminded of the ailment his coach, Tim Gullikson had just been diagnosed with at the 1995 Aussie Open.

Simply put, crying is an uncontrollable expression of an emotion. Tears can roll down our cheeks for what may appear as a very flimsy reason to others many times. But it is one of nature’s most profound ways of helping us feel a sense of relief. It is scientifically established that tears can wash away the many obnoxious chemicals that our brain produces during moments of emotional highs. To many, crying is a good thing, as it helps relieve a bad feeling.

But crying in the workplace is different!

But what does one say about crying at the workplace? We are given to thinking –and quite rightly so –that the workplace is one where we have to put up a behavior, because we are not working in our own place. It is where we go for earning a livelihood, and to give vent to our talents. When we interact with colleagues and other associates at this place, can we behave the way we want to, as if we were in our own fiefdom?

Does this mean that crying at the workplace has to be curtailed forcefully? As we just saw; crying is often spontaneous, if you are crying naturally, that is. Of course, there are people who can fake tears when the situation demands, but we are talking about genuine crying. So, is it possible for a person to hold back tears because he or she is in an office at that point of time?

Difficult to control

It is not possible to do this. How does one expect a colleague to put the brakes on tears after hearing that a dear one has died suddenly? This is asking for the impossible, and we all have to understand that. Even the person who is weeping at the news of something terrible and unexpected will not be aware of the disturbance and annoyance she or he is causing to colleagues with this behavior.

What does HR do in such situations?

In situations such as this, HR should be the one taking proactive actions. It has to first ensure that the colleague who has undergone an emotional outburst and is crying needs to be shifted to another place where there are fewer people. More than anything else, HR has to be there to care. Often, a shoulder to cry on is a great healer. Instead of trying to tell the crying person to control oneself; HR should ensure that in this situation, there is a colleague who the affected employee is close to, close by. The affected employee should be allowed to calm down after a while, after a bout of weeping.

This apart, HR should also get into action and do many things that soothe an affected person’s mood. It should, for instance, make arrangements for transporting that person back home safely. In emotionally stressed moods, it is not advisable to drive. This could lead to another tragedy.

Dealing with habitual criers

Now, the major part: dealing with employees who are habitual weepers! This is a much bigger problem than having to console a person who is weeping for a particular incident. Over time, most employees come to terms with their tragedy and return to normal. However, it is the people who are in the habit of weeping for absolutely silly reasons that are a concern to HR and the organization.

Many people are accustomed to weeping for the most trivial of things. Although it is believed that women are prone to weeping more; several men too, find weeping an easy resort to their emotional stresses. How does HR deal with such employees?

Calls for understanding deeper reasons

This situation has to be tackled from a slightly different plane. If employees are weeping for the silliest of reasons, it is a sign that they have some deeply embedded psychological reasons for doing this. It could be the result of bad childhood memories. Or it could be the effect of many misfortunes that the person has gone through in life. Many times, many of us don’t weep at the instance we are going through tragedies. But the stored memories can sometimes show up at other times and come out as an outpour. At these times, it is possible we are not in a situation that really warrants crying. A small incident could be the trigger for bringing out the congealed feelings.

Even such situations can be handled, if we allow that person to come to terms with the situation that is causing tears at unexpected and seemingly unrelated times. As for habitual weepers, some counseling could help in understanding the problem. It could take a while to resolve it.



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Fax: 302-288-6884
43337 Livermore Common | Fremont| CA | USA | 94539


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