Reacting to a co worker's distress

Other people's expressions of emotion sometimes put us ill at ease. It can be difficult to find the "right" distance! How to show one's attention, with delicacy?
The expression of emotion by another person, especially feelings of sadness, can put us ill at ease.  It's difficult to find the “proper” distance, to show concern without appearing to be intrusive or indiscreet.  Sometimes indeed, we can be quite clumsy!
Above all, show that you're there, simply that you're there!
In the busy daily flow, even the simple act of marking a pause to take the pulse of the situation, is not always easy to do.
For we are ourselves disoriented by the unexpected attitude, and need to take a step back to adjust.
Resist the urge to console
A common reflex, when faced with another person's sadness: seeking to reassure, to console a hurt of which we generally know nothing, to “think positively”.
It is better to accept that pain be expressed, even to remain silent.
“Inquire” without risk
When the person before us seems really to be upset, we sometimes hesitate to inquire because we're afraid to appear intrusive, to reopen the wound, etc.
So a “no-risk” question that's almost always on the mark for expressing one's presence and one's availability: “Can I help you?” or “How can I help you?”
Even if the person does not know what to respond, they can, if they want, take this question as an invitation to express themselves.
This question is particularly suitable for situations where you do not know the reason for the person's distress.

Each question has only one correct response, but be careful: among the possible responses there is one that is "almost correct" and might make the choice harder!
1 / 3   Discouragement
Philippe worked for a long time on the proposal that he has just presented to the rest of his team. According to him, the meeting did not go well: "I wasn't convincing. Even though I spent so much time preparing for it... I'm so discouraged!" What do you say to him?
You do seem very discouraged, and I'm sorry because I know you worked a lot on that proposal. What makes you think you weren't convincing?
Yes, you hear his distress and open the dialogue to help Philippe analyze, in this situation, what is real and what is imaginary.
I'll let you cool down and we'll talk about it again later.
If Philippe has brought up the subject, it means he's ready to talk with you about it. You could ask him an initial question and then proceed according to his response.
My impression is that you're over-dramatizing the situation. You know your proposal inside and out, it couldn't have gone that badly.
Useless consolation. Philippe may get the impression that you're trying just to brush him off.

2 / 3   Bad news
Dominique tells you she just learned of a close friend's illness. She appears very sad. What do you do?
Nothing in particular. It can be tricky to try to say something.
Why not. But a warm word to Dominique would show your attention to her.
You say to her: "It's a very difficult period for you. I may not be able to be of much help to you right now, but I truly hope that everything will be all right."
Yes, just a few words to say simply that you are there for her.
You ask her co-workers to be attentive and supportive of her.
Why not -- but the first thing is to be attentive and supportive yourself.
You reassure her: "Life has its ups and downs, things always come out all right in the end."
The intention is admirable, but if Dominique is sad she'll find it difficult to agree with the sentiment!
3 / 3   A great disappointment
Charles didn't get the promotion he expected because he didn't pass his evaluations. He is extremely disappointed, defeated. What do you say to him?
You can always try again next time, and you'll better prepared for the evaluations then.
You are right but Charles is not able to hear this message right now.
I understand why you feel so disappointed, in view of all the strengths you have. What happened during the evaluations, in your view?
Yes, even if it's a sensitive topic, Charles needs to express his perceptions and even his anger. Afterwards you can be more positive.
But everyone knows that the evaluations come down partly to a matter of luck!
That's not very reassuring.
Maybe you weren't prepared well enough...
So disagreeable! Even if it is true, it's up to Charles to realize this.
Your score is
You finished!
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