We are all human, we all have feelings and it can be tough to see a person cry. Here’s what to do when an employee starts crying during a disciplinary meeting.
Keep the meeting going.
- You may be tempted to excuse the employee and postpone the meeting.
- Rest ensured, the next conversation will be even more difficult.
- The employee’s choices led you both to this meeting.
- Do not apologize or behave overly sympathetic!
Offer a tissue and a moment before you continue.
- He or she needs to know the meeting is important and you are not ending it.
- Check your email or some other task, so you can provide the employee a moment of privacy.
Continue the conversation where you left off before the “break”.
- Do not restart from the beginning and do not summarize.
- Retain control of the meeting by not letting anything side track you, including crying.
The idea is take the crying in stride as just one more normal human expression, like a smile. The more you dwell on the crying, the more powerful it becomes. It can override the purpose of your counseling or disciplinary effort.