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Gentleman’s Guide: How to console a colleague

How to console a crying female colleague 

Take Joe Swain’s not-at-all condescending teenage girl quiz on the correct way to handle an upset colleague to find out if you are a well-adjusted people manger or a follower of the David Brent/Michael Scott school of management

1. Your colleague begins to cry, should you:

 a) Remark jovially to the rest of the table, “Oi, oi, someone call a plumber, we’ve got a burst pipe here,” and punch your distraught colleague playfully on the shoulder.

b) Ask if you can help before sitting down with her. Sometimes she may prefer to be alone. Provide a comforting (gender appropriate) touch such as a light tap on the shoulder or a hug.

c) Shout “Stand aside she’s hysterical!” and slap her firmly across the cheek.

2. In terms of practical assistance, should you:

a) Sweep everything from the boardroom table and shout for hot water and towels on the off-chance she is about to give birth, which is, in your mind, one of the principal reasons women cry. That and Thornbirds re-runs.

b) Suggest that everyone, including your crying colleague, reconvene at the local pub where “Everyone can get a bit sozzled on gin and blub a bit,” after all, “Don’t they say that crying is good for you? That’s it! A group blubbing session!”

c) Imagine how you would feel in her position and use non-verbal communication to convey that you care, such as caring facial expressions, eye contact, body postures; make sure she is offered tissues, or a hot drink, as you gently express your concern and ask what you can do to help.

3. As your colleague begins to get her tears under control should you:

a) Tell her that as far as you are concerned “it” never happened, and that if anyone dares say anything about the whole “embarrassing incident”, you’ll beat them to within an inch of their lives and have “liquid lips” tattooed on their foreheads.

b) Reassure her that you are there to support her and to listen if she wants to talk about it, while conveying hope that there is always a way to deal with the problem.

c) Lance the festering boil of secrecy by grabbing a quick video of your colleague still crying a bit, but with those really funny shaking shoulders that people get when they’re trying to stop, and post it immediately on YouTube, maybe with an appropriate soundtrack such as ‘No woman, no cry’ by Bob Marley.

4. In the ensuing days, should you:

a) Make a special point of avoiding your colleague until they’ve had a chance to live down their embarrassment a bit. Try not to invite her to any meetings that might set her off again, such as your latest sales figures.

b) Take the attention away from her for by doing something even more embarrassing as a diversion. Dressing up as a clown perhaps, with big shoes, baggy trousers and one of those joke flowers on your lapel that sprays water in people’s faces when they sniff it.

c) Check in with your colleague a couple of days later; empower her by saying something like “You seem to be coping very well already”; try to guage whether or not she wants to talk about it.

5. For the future should you:

a) Develop some sort of best practice policy to help other staff members deal with similar situations appropriately and reduce the unnecessary stigma attached to perfectly natural displays of human emotion, such as crying.

b) Nominate somebody within the company, the “huggiest” person perhaps, to be constantly on call for such situations, thereby reducing the risk of embarrassment to male staff members.

c) Set up a sponsorship deal with Kleenex and present your blubbing colleague with a lifetime supply of tissues at the next office social. 


CORRECT ANSWERS

Kindly provided by The Counselling Place and Alliance Professional Counselling:

1) b. 2) c. 3) b. 4) c. 5) a 

WHAT YOUR SCORE MEANS:

0-1 correct answers
The Office stars have nothing on you, you’re about as sensitive as a rainbow at a blind convention.

2-3 correct answers
Yawn. Sorry, well done, you’ve almost grown a feeling.

4-5 correct answers
Congratulations! You’re a compassionate modern day man, go home now and make babies.

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