Managers often feel uncomfortable when an employee cries. It may be tempting to press on with the conversation as though nothing is happening, but a better response is to demonstrate compassion. The tears don’t mean the person is an emotional wreck or having a breakdown; they’re just the way their body is reacting to pressure. You might say, “Let’s take a quick break, and then we’ll figure things out.” You can suggest the employee take a short walk or get a coffee, or if the meeting is in your office, you can leave for a few minutes to let the person calm down. Don’t offer pity or try to fix the situation; say something simple like, “I’m sorry that upset you.” And resist getting upset yourself, even if you’re frustrated. If you stay calm and focused, you can help the employee move past their emotions and back to the work at hand.
Adapted from “How to Manage an Employee Who Cries Easily,” by Liz Kislik