How to Talk with a Coworker Who’s Having a Tough Time

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Originally published April 1, 2019 on

Everyone has bad days at work — and some of us have more than others. Whether you’re frustrated because you didn’t hit your sales numbers, or angry that your colleague was promoted instead of you, or sad that layoffs have impacted your department, negative emotions have a place at work, like it or not.

It’s one thing for you to feel sad, mad, or bad — and to know yourself well enough to predict that you’ll work through it and (hopefully) get over it shortly. It’s another thing when your colleague is having an extended tough stretch, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Shouldn’t he be over it already?”

While you may understand from an intellectual perspective that bouncing back from setbacks takes time, you might be feeling impatient. Why? Because your colleague’s disappointment or despair may be impacting the quality or quantity of his work, which impacts your work. Furthermore, research shows that emotions are “contagious” — and the longer your peer is feeling upset, the more likely those feelings are to rub off on you. In addition, your repertoire of supportive strategies may be wearing thin, and you may feel like you’ve run out of ways to feel helpful, empathetic, or even interested. Continue reading at…

Deborah Grayson Riegel Deborah Grayson Riegel is an executive coach and Director of Learning with The Boda Group. Deborah has coached hundreds of thousands of professionals to communicate more effectively in industries ranging from advertising, financial services, and government to non-profits, pharmaceuticals, and technology. Deborah is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia University, and an instructor of Management Communication at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Learn more about Deborah or get in touch.