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4 Ways to Deal With an Emotional Employee

Written by Yair Nativ
Yair is an award-winning serial entrepreneur passionate about the opportunities that technology offers to improve people's lives.
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Emotions are sometimes so vague that we barely understand our own. So, how can we pretend to understand our employees? And how can we deal with an emotional employee?

The last couple of years were more than challenging for employees. Working from home brought a lot of benefits—no morning drive to the office, for example.

But employees might also be affected by this condition’s disadvantages, such as inability to focus at home, loneliness, and more. Add to that the emotional effects of the pandemic—like anxiety and being paranoid—and you get an emotional crisis.

Managers these days already know that along with their team management job, they hold another position as a mentor and psychologist.

They have to understand their employees’ emotions better and find ways to help them cope with them, both for the sake of their well-being and the team’s productivity, which can be badly affected by the bad emotional state of team members.

Who Are Your Emotional Employees?

We all express emotions differently, so there is no single definition of an emotional employee.

Some would say that an “emotional employee” is this one who gets angry in a blink of an eye.

Others would claim that this is the employee who complains a lot. It can also be the one who never shares their feelings.


They are all correct because we all experience emotions during our days. Our emotions can have an impact in different ways on our behavior, ability to focus, and our and our team’s productivity.

How to Better Understand Your Employees’ Emotions?

Remember, your employees do not advertise their feelings well, not always. So how, then, are you supposed to know what they are feeling? And more importantly, how to help them cope with the emotions that harm them?

There are many ways to better understand your team members’ emotional state. But first, you must create a safe space and allow employees to share their emotions.

As some managers adore poker-faced employees, it is essential to enable this safe space, especially in times like this when employees need it the most.

Managers have a significant impact on the team’s emotional culture. Thus, to create a safe space, the managers have also to share their concerns and feelings, showing their employees that this is a legitimate thing to do. It helps build trust and encourages employees to open up and speak about their own emotions and struggles.


Show Employees That You Care

At Ubiquity Retirement + Savings, employees pass by an emotions registration screen when working from the office instead of clocking out at the end of the workday. Decision-makers in the company then process the information. It allows them to understand better what motivates their employees and what makes them feel a sense of belonging and excitement at work.

Take actions that will increase the well-being and improve the emotional state of the employees.[1]

This is one way to use technology and data to help employees better understand their emotions. Other solutions can help employees motivate themselves and better understand their feelings.

Tools like Calm can help employees be more present and feel better about themselves. In Hour25.ai, we’re building a tool that improves emotional resilience and can significantly impact both employees’ emotional state and productivity level.

Talk to your employees. Nothing compares to a good and open talk with the manager or a colleague.

Let them know you care about their emotions, and you don’t have to wait until the monthly review.

Employees will appreciate you talking with them on non-job-related topics, even as a small talk before or after meetings. Show interest in their after-work life, encourage them to share their struggles, and try to find ways to help where you can.

Types of Emotional Employees

As written above, we are all emotional creatures. Still, some people express emotions more significantly, and those are the people that we’ll call ‘emotional employees’ in this article.

Usually, there are several types of emotional employees, and it is important to know them, as each type requires different care.


1. Insecure

Insecurity is tricky because while science has shown that insecure people tend to be more creative, insecure employees, when not treated well, can and probably will become a burden.

Unconfident employees will be less likely to spread wings and work independently on a task. They will seek approval from you and their colleagues, which can become time-consuming and annoying.

2. Angry

The angry employees tend to take things out of proportion. They will question every decision you make and resent you for days over the most minor things. An angry employee can harm your team’s morale, which will affect productivity.

3. Quiet

Although it seems harmless and very convenient, you should also pay attention to the more silent employees. When most of the attention is withdrawn by the insecure and the angry personas, quiet employees can feel neglected and develop their own bad feelings.

There are plenty more types of emotional employees. I will not be able to cover them all in this article. You just have to listen and observe, create a safe environment, and talk to your employees to find your emotional employees.


4 Ways to Deal With an Emotional Employee

There is no one magic solution, but by listening to your team members, exploring different approaches, and sticking to those that work, you can create more balance in your team.

Here are four ways to deal with an emotional employee:[2]

1. Test the Employee’s Awareness

While the employee’s behavior may be clear to you, it is often not to them, as this is the norm for them.

Start by scheduling a one-on-one meeting with the employee. In the meeting, try to ask questions that will shed light on whether they are aware of their behavior’s impact on the team performance.

While preparing for this meeting, write examples and facts to back up your point. Remember, your feedback might catch the employee by surprise, so be conscious of that and explain that you are trying to help them and not harm them.

2. Be Honest and Direct

Set emotional boundaries. If, after your first conversation, the employee doesn’t show any signs of improvement, do not ignore it. It is essential to be consistent and show your employees that you care for them but are not willing to back down.

It is important to treat emotional employees as strong and not weak. Show them that you are here for them but also that you will not give up on changing the behavior that harms the team.


3. Create a Culture of Openness and Honesty

Creating a safe space is only the first step. Although it will help you identify your employees’ emotional state, it will not allow them to deal with bad emotions.

By creating a culture of openness, encouraging the team members to share their emotions with one another, and sharing respectful but professional feedback publicly on every team member (including the manager), you can kill the gossip culture and create a team that helps each other overcome emotional barriers together.

4. Use technology

There is no doubt that employees caring for each other is an excellent way to deal with emotional employees. But technology offers a wide range of solutions to better deal with emotions.

Try offering some of those tools to your employees, especially the emotional ones, and explore their impact.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with emotional employees is not easy, let alone when employees are physically far from their managers.

Video conferencing and phone calls do not allow all body language and emotional signs to go through. Thus, managers need to learn about their employees in any possible way, talk to them daily, help them find solutions to their problems. But they should also set boundaries and not let dealing with emotions become their primary job.

Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com


[1]Harvard Business Review: Manage Your Emotional Culture
[2]Harvard Business Review: 4 Ways to Manage an Emotionally Needy Employee
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