Tips for Supporting a Colleague in Crisis

by Alex Feldman

June 22, 2018

It can be hard to see a colleague going through a difficult time, and it is also hard to know what you can do to help. A crisis can be anything from coping with divorce, bereavement or mental health problems. Whatever crisis a colleague may be facing, having your support can help them get through it. If you are worried about a colleague, these tips show you how to offer your support.

Talk and Listen

If your colleague has not confided in you, ask them gently why they are low. Once they begin talking, listen to what they have to say without interrupting. Listening is a skill. Take note of your colleague’s body language to help you see the effect their issue is having. Depending on the issue, you might not always agree with a colleague’s decisions or ways of behaving, but try not to judge. See things from your colleague’s perspective, and not from your own.

Having someone to confide it can make all the difference to pulling through a crisis, so be there when it matters most. This especially applies to the workplace, where work output and communication are key. If there is a fault in the line of communication because of an unresolved issue, this could have an effect on office morale or the potential work ethic and output of the team.


If a colleague is going through an emotional turmoil, or physical illness or pain, seeing a doctor for advice is essential. Encourage them to make an appointment to discuss things with a professional, such as Rishin Patel Insight, who is an expert in chronic pain management. Other places they might seek advice from are local therapists, psychologists, or refuge centers. There is advice and help for almost any crisis, so encourage your colleague to take the steps they need.

Although a colleague might be reluctant to seek help, show them the positive effects it will have on their situation. Try not to be pushy though, or your effort may have the opposite effect and your colleague might feel as if they cannot confide in you. If your colleague does not want to seek help, give them a little more time. One exception to this is if you feel your colleague is in danger of harming themselves or others, and for their own safety, you might need to get help from professional services.

Kindness is Key

Sometimes we just can’t help a colleague with a personal difficulty. However, we can make their lives easier. You could make a batch of meals in portions to put in their freezer, so they don’t have to think about cooking, you could offer to help them with their workload, or offer to take them out for a meal or a coffee. When someone feels like everything is getting too much, having a colleague take over some of the everyday tasks can help them to get better.


It can be difficult to see a colleague going through a crisis, but being supportive is key to helping them recover. You have to get the balance right between being there and stepping back. Otherwise, your colleague might feel crowded. Remind them you are there for them, but also give them the space they need to work through their problem. Be positive and help them see that they do have a positive future and that you are there to help them get there.