Reaching out to coworkers: how-to have healthy confrontations

Reaching out to coworkers: how-to have healthy confrontations

Realizing a co-worker may be struggling with burnout, depression, anxiety, or some form of mental illness can be troubling.  Check out these tips to help you confront someone about their change in behavior  so you can continue to manage positive, professional relationships with your coworkers.

  • Be conscience of comfort zones: Hearing someone’s concerns is never easy, so it’s important that you pick a setting that allows both you and your co-worker to be safe, private, and comfortable. Difficult conversations take time and neither party should feel rushed; choose a time of the day that offers flexibility for both of you so a lengthier conversation can occur if required.
  • Be discreet and tactful: Even if everyone in the office has been buzzing about Ben’s recent change in behavior, keep your conversation on a one-to-one level. Speak for yourself and yourself only (ex. I’ve noticed you seem unhappy, I’m concerned about you) so your colleague doesn’t feel ambushed or overwhelmed. If necessary, invite a supervisor or another close co-worker to help you with the discussion, keeping in mind that Ben might speak more freely with less people.
  • Be patient: Talking is a brave first step, but, whether it’s the first or fifth conversation, your colleague may react negatively to what you’re telling him or her. Be prepared for denial, anger, and, possibly, rejection. Once you’re voiced your opinion, do not prod or demand agreement. People absorb new information at different rates and you are not responsible for making sure Ben receives the help he may need.
  • Be helpful and thoughtful: If you have gone through a similar situation, offering some advice may be helpful but it’s important you realize that your coworker might require professional help. CPA Assist provides confidential help to Alberta professional accountants and their families. This service is free and can be a great resource for someone requiring special help. Finally, even if your conversation proves fruitless, you should walk away feeling good about reaching out to a friend and keep the discussion to yourself.

CPA Assist is designed to help Alberta Professional Accountants, and their immediate families address issues of mental health, addictive behaviours, substance abuse, and other personal or professional issues. Visit www.cpaalberta.ca/Members/CPA-Assist to learn more, find help, or find contact information.

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