There are plenty of moments in work and in life when you may find yourself upset or offended by something someone says or does, regardless of whether the person intended to cause offense. When this situation happens at work it can be hard to deescalate and stay professional. It can be even more difficult to help an employee in a situation where they’ve been offended. Learning how to deescalate these situations can make your workplace a happier and more respectful place to work. Here’s how to handle an offended employee respectfully:
How to Tell When an Employee’s Been Offended
There are several clues that an individual has been upset by something. One common response to feeling upset is to withdraw and isolate. You may see this as an employee spending more time than usual in their desk or office or they may be talking less to certain co-workers or managers following a tense discussion. Defensive or aggressive behaviors in response to feedback or criticism can also be a sign that things have gone too far. In some cases, employees may express their frustration in clear verbal terms, though that’s a rarer occurrence.
Check on Your Employees
When someone feels upset, it can be a great help to feel that they are supported. You can help your employees feel supported by checking in on those you think may be offended. The conversation should be private unless you feel the need to include a member of HR or senior leadership. Try to make your employee comfortable enough to share their perspective and concerns. You can do this by actively listening when an employee shares with you, so they know you’ll be attentive when they share something important. Making the effort to check on employees after a tense situation will increase unity, vulnerability, and understanding in your company.
Resolve the Issue
This step is going to depend on the specific issue that caused offense. In some cases, merely talking though the event is enough to settle the issue for the employee. Offense is often caused by misunderstandings that can be easily resolved through communication. In other cases, there may need to be disciplinary action for the person who caused offense, particularly if the behavior could be considered harassment or discrimination. Consult your behavior policies if that is the case.
Conflict management is key to being a good leader. Follow this advice to create a better environment for your employees by better working through issues with employees.