What To Do When A Colleague Is Struggling

When you are spending most of your time with a group of people each and every day you will notice that bonds will form. You will laugh together, share experience and crack a few jokes here and there not to mention complain about the boss every now and again. Colleagues can even turn into your personal friends if you take the relationship to that stage.

You may come to know more about your co-workers and their personal lives like what they do in their spare time and how many their family consists of etc.

What happens when a colleague ends up dealing with a personal or psychological crisis? Whether a co-worker is going through suffering an illness, going through a divorce or dealing with other problems within their family or perhaps they are dealing with money problems. Sometimes it can be hard to know how to help them and just what the right way to respond is.

You may feel close to this person and it is natural to feel you need to inquire about what is going on and then try to find ways to help them ease the stress. However, here there are still professional boundaries that you need to keep to. There is a line between supporting the colleagues and also respecting their privacy at the time as well.

Show You’re Approachable

People want to feel acknowledged at times in need and some people like to be comforted. It can be a challenge to figure out just how to give off the support in the right way. When you have no idea what to say remember the little things like saying sorry for their loss can mean so much to someone. Just offering an ear to listen can be all that is needed and a friendly smile. If you persist with details about their situation this can steer them away.

Don’t Offer Uninvited Advice

It can be tempting to play the therapist and offer out advice to the person dealing with the problem you need to ensure you are supportive and not preaching especially if you have been in that similar place before.

You are wanting to make the colleague feel cared for and comfortable without your recommendations. If the person actually specifically asks for your advice, then keep it to yourself.

Offer Help In Different Ways

Don’t just use the vague statements such as, “let me know what I can do” these can be a burden and a struggling co-worker then has to think of ideas in ways you can help. Most often your co-worker will feel uncomfortable asking for your help.

It is time to be proactive show you are happy to help in other ways like when you go pick up some lunch ask if they want a meal to or if you know they are heading out to see a client ask if they would like you to go instead. These can be simple gestures that are more likely to have a co-worker accept when you ask rather than leaving it up to them to ask when they feel like it. It can also be inviting them to a visit a museum display, but don’t force them into an exhibition showcase as they may not feel ready for more public and crowded settings.

Supporting your colleague who is going through the problems can be a tricky to navigate sometimes but remember when you reach out to them to offer your support you need to be honouring the co-workers boundaries and let them tell you as much as they want to disclose.