When your colleague has something bad happen to them, what can you do to help them feel better? This question can be very difficult to answer because every person wants different things at different times, be it empathy, problem-solving, optimism, distraction and more. There are four different types that a person may be in when something bad happens, and familiarizing which of these states are can be helpful for you to figure out the best approach to comfort them.
Type 1: Confused or Shocked
When something unexpected or negative happens, your colleague may require time to comprehend what occurred and how we feel about it. You can help facilitate the process by helping them to understand what happened.
Some of the most common potential emotions include denial, dread, fear, surprise, confusion or shock. Take for instance your colleague comes back to work from vacation and finds out that he/she is getting laid off.
Important strategies that can be helpful to your colleagues include:
- be an active listener
- help to resolve confusion
- expression of concern
- validating their confusion
- reflecting them your understanding of what they have said
Type 2: Feeling bad and not ready to feel better
When a person is feeling heavy negative emotions that they want to feel through the motion. Take for example, your colleague lost his/her job, he/she likely wants to be sad or disappointed about it for some time. If the person is stressed out at work, he/she might just feel frustrated at the job for a while because that person feels that frustration is necessary.
Some of the most common emotions include jealousy, guilt, contempt, anger, anxiety, depression or sadness. Take for example your colleague who is forced to work overtime would likely feel frustrated about the time spending overworking.
Strategies that can be helpful to your colleague include:
- be an active listener
- -reflecting him/her your understanding of what they have spoken
- help them get into a mindset where they are more prepared to cope with the situation
Type 3: Feeling bad but wants to feel better
Once feeling bad for some time, at some point, people are likely to get tired of those negative feelings and wish that they could feel much better again. From this point, you can help alleviate those negative feelings.
The most common potential emotions are similar to type 2 which is jealousy, guilt, contempt, anger, anxiety, depression or sadness. For instance, your colleague recently argued at the office and still feels angered about it, but wants to feel better, move on and get back to work with full focus.
There are ways you can approach to help your colleague, methods include:
- being optimistic and reframing
- validating their emotions
- making distractions(example getting involved in other positive activities)
- helping them explore and understand their situation or looking at things from a different perspective
- problem-solving(if it’s something that you can do to fix it)
Type 4: Feeling better and desire solutions
When your colleague is feeling intensely bad, it’s often both difficult and unappealing to problem-solve. Once your colleague starts to feel much better, he/she may start to feel motivated to search for a way to improve the situation. You can be supportive in this situation by helping him/her think through potential solutions or by helping directly.
Common emotions are similar to type 2 which is jealousy, guilt, contempt, anger, anxiety, depression or sadness. For instance, your colleague is getting verbally bullied by other workers in the office is feeling somewhat less bad about it and wants your help together to report to the management.
Other helpful strategies that can be helpful include:
- Providing advice to help solve the problem
- Providing relevant resources to help coming up with a solution
So, the next time if your colleague faced a difficult or a bad situation, consider looking through these four types of distress model, to determine which type are they likely facing:
1.Confused or shocked: you can help your colleague by helping them figure out what happened and how they are feeling.
2.Feeling bad and not ready to feel better – you can listen to their struggles empathetically and validate their feelings.
3.Feeling bad but wants to feel better -you can help your colleague feel better by comforting them through validation, distraction, problem-solving or helping them explore and understand their feelings.
4.Feeling better and desire solutions – helping them figure out the next best course of action
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You Jing is a content writer who writes career and lifestyle contents to inspire job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.
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