Scenario: Emotional moment

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: In attempting to respond to a question the participant starts to cry.

Tags: Action Learning, ActionLearning Coach, Team Coach, WIAL, WIAL Action Learning, WIAL Talk

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Comments (29)

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    Min Zhao

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    I would count 1, 2, 3 seconds silently to see whether anyone in the team would respond to the situation. If not, I would say, “Team, what is happening now? What shall we do when one team member gets upset?” and believe in the wisdom of the team to solve the issue. Chances are someone is going to say something. It is always team’s responsibility to decide whether they want to spend more time on this or they want to move on.

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    Paulina Gucka

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    First, seeing what happens (usually it’s visible someone is in emotional moment before this person starts to cry) I would stop the group saying: “Let’s stop for a moment.” with a very calm tone of voice. Than I would say directly to the person that started to cry (still calm and softly) : “It’s fine what happens, it’s ok. Take your time. It’s natural.” and I let the person to go through emotions staying calm, silent and stopping the team from intervening. When the crucial moment of strong emotion is over I ask person crying: “What do you need now in the situation?” and I follow the need. Very often the break for the whole team is needed at this point to lower down emotions on the crying person’s side and team’s side.

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    Anni Townend

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    As an action learning coach I would ‘allow’ silence’ and the participant to cry. Depending on the stage of the group’s, or team’s development I would hope (and trust) that one of the team would at an appropriate, sensitive moment ask an open question of the participant. If this did not happen then as the action learning coach I would ask an open question that would let the person know that their tears had been seen and heard. I might, if the person appears to be moving through their emotion, and only if right, gently ask the group, team what is the question being asked to help the group re-focus on the question and the person to respond with a statement, or to ask a question. I can also imagine when we get to the question What are we doing well? And What can we do even better? that this expression of emotion would be mentioned, and if not I would ask ‘Anything else?’

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    Bert van Veldhuizen

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    When this happens, something really happens. The group touches something that causes an emotion within the group. I hope the group will pick it up and ask further in the right tone and at the right time. With sufficient empathy for the participant and in openness and sincerity.
    If there is no reaction from the group, then I will put the question in the group, what does it do to the group that someone gets emotional? That way, everyone can respond, including the participant showing the emotion. My role is that it remains safe for everyone to deal with this in their own way, with respect for others and for themselves.

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    Tuyen Van

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    As a coach, I would like to ask the team what they should do in that situation?
    – If the team suggest that they want to continue the session and they want that member to try to response. As a coach, I may ask that member some following questions: “ What make you so emotional”, or “how team can help you to over come your feeling now?”
    – If the team suggest to break some minutes, I will let the team break in a short specific time and then we continue with the session. Some follow up questions may be asked to cried member “ How do you feel now?” or “ How the team can help you to overcome the emotional feeling”

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    QUYNH LETHIBAO

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    I let team break about 30-45 seconds to that member who is cying express his or her emotion. While this time I be observing him or her so to measure how his or her emotion is. After that I will ask the other members of team: “Hello team, with situation happens, what can we do to help him or her over come this emotion?” and “If this question is made for you, how do you do?

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    Chanchira Phetburi

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    I will pause the session around 10 second, allow the “Silence” and allow the participant to cry. At this point, all other team member will diffinatly aware on what happen then I will start tell the team member the fact (as they all see) and continue asking the rest of the team – for eaxample “would would happen if there is one of the team member?” or this is a bit leading but with the situation I will ask the team – “What could happen if we continue the session?” then I will ask the team member for the decision – “What should we do as a team?”

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    Lee Kwan Meng

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    As an Action Learning coach, I would first ask the team whether they could stop the session for session for awhile since a member has broken down and is crying. And if they agree, I would ask the crying member whether he/she is alright to continue with the session or would like a short break to compose back his/her emotions. If the crying member would like the break, then I will ask the team team members to suggest a time period for the break. But if the crying member says can continue without the break, then I will let the team to continue with there they left off.

    But when the time comes for the break to end and resume the session, I would first ask the crying team member whether he/she would like to continue the session. If he/she says it is alright to him/her to continue, then I would ask the team what happened that caused the team member to cry. This is to ensure that the cause of what happened for the team member to cry is known. This is important because if the cause of the crying is related to the earlier discussion before the break, then the team members should learn to be more cautious with the form of questioning or raising an issue that is sensitive to the crying member will not occur again in the session to cause another emotional situation and interrupt the session further. But if the cause turns out to be something not related to the issue that was being addressed by the team in the session, then it is alright for the team to continue where they left off.

    So when the team comes back from the break with the crying team member still in the team, I will ask the team whether this incident has affected the performance of the team in addressing the issue being discussed. If they responded that it has, then I will ask them how they plan to move forward so that there will be no further interruption. But they responded that it has not, then I will allow them to proceed with their questions as if nothing had happened.

    However, if that crying team member decided not to continue with the session, then the dynamics of my plan above will change. Instead, I will first have to ask the team whether they can or would like to continue with the session without that crying team member. Then it is up to the team to decide 1) whether to continue, or 2) to postpone the session to another time, or 3) to completely end the session without further progress.

    If the team decides to continues, I will have to monitor and ensure that the team performs accordingly without any further interruption of the member crying again. But if they decide to postpone it, then I will have to ask them how and when they would like to proceed again. And if they decide to completely end the session without further continuation, then I will ask them about the status of the problem that remains unresolved and the future action they would like to take on the problem.

    Nevertheless, whatever the decisions of the team in this crying incident, it will reflect on the urgency of the problem that has been presented, the performance on the team, the teamwork and relationships among the team members, and of course, the leadership that had been exercised that can be learned, not only among the team, but also on me as the Action Learning coach.

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    Maura Muller

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    Since crying or outward expressions of emotion can make people uncomfortable, for both the person crying and the other group members. I would try to address the situation carefully, perhaps by waiting a minute and then saying to the person crying, “I see that you are crying. Let’s stop for a moment. What might be most helpful to you right now?” I would then let the group follow that person’s lead. If the person was so upset that they could no longer speak or be heard correctly through their tears, I would then ask the group, “How do you think we should proceed?”

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    Noraini Mahmood

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    I would allow silence as the team may need some time to reflect on the emotional moment as well as giving the person some space to complete his or her crying. This will model respect and compassion to the team. I would then ask the team what they thought of the silence and the emotional moment by a team member, allowing a discussion. I would then ask them what is the impact on the team and the process. I would let the team decide how to proceed. They may decide to take a break or allow the team member to continue with her response to the earlier question.

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    Guan Heng Tan

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    As the AL Coach I’d observe how the team responds. It is very likely the team is more aware of the situation with the participant than me. If a team member intervenes and says, “can we take a minute” and the team looks to me for a response, I’ll put the question back to the team, “how does the team feel about this suggestion”? However, if everyone stays silent, I can surmise that everyone is aware of what is happening and the discomfort is setting in. I will then ask, “team, what would you like to do now”. It is obvious people know what is happening so there’s no need to ask/state the obvious and make the situation or the participant feel more awkward. As a coach, we need to be sensitive to people’s feelings and if we are there precisely to help and support learning, then priority must be for the team to handle this on their own. This is an opportunity for the team to bond and learn how to support a teammate. It will be a shame if my intervention robs them of that opportunity.

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    Phuc Nguyen

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    Waiting for some second, I ask team: “I noticed that 1 team member is in emotional status, what we can do now?”
    Situation 1: Team respond: we can stop in some minutes => “How much do we need to spend?” => “5 mins” => after 5 mins, I ask “we have been spent 5 mins, what we can do better now?”
    Situation 2: Team respond: “we can let him/her take a small rest, we can keep continue to run the session”. => I ask “How are we doing as a group so far (on a scale of 1 to 10; 1- poor, 10 – excellent), what can be impact on the team if this moment happen in future? what we can do better?

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    Pet Hen Oei

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    First, I’ll hand out tissue. Let 10 seconds out, then ask if he/she responding would like to continue.
    If yes, then the session continues
    If no, then I would like ask reflection question to the team, asking “what is happening here?” maybe follow up with “what the team would like to do to continue?”

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    Carla Cardoso

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    I would intervene by saying “I observed that one people (I would say her name) is thrilled, what are we want to do as group.

    I think it’s very important make a intervention in this moment (if the group stoped and didn’t do something) to give support the group, sometimes people block when see someone crying. It’s really important to support this participant.

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    Lia Cavellucci

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    As an Action Learning Coach, I would very carefully interrupt the session, address the emotional person and say:
    – I am observing that this point really touched you. Please take the time it takes for your self-care, we can wait.
    When the person would be already out of emotional state, I would ask:
    – Would you like to make a request to the group?
    From the answer, I would address the group and ask:
    – Can we continue?
    And I would resume the script.

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    Brigit Naude

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    I’d ask the person whether they needed to take a few minutes out and depending on the response, then seek the permission of the group for it to happen: “Would the group be happy for X to take a break for a minute or two?” I believe that it would be important to get back to the problem solving as soon as the whole group is again present.

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    Anne Bertoli

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    First, I would give this person a tissue. Then I would give the group a few seconds to find their own reaction. After that, I would turn to the person who was crying and ask if the group or myself could do anything for her/him, or if she/he would like to do or say something. And from that, I would react.

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    Artur Techmanski

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    First I would stop the group by saying “Let’s stop for a moment”. I would do short pause 30s – 1 min and give crying person a tissue if needed. I would leave this person a space and say calmly “It’s all ok what is happening now”.
    -> If the person calms down I would ask “What do you want to do now as a group? How you would like to proceed going forward”
    -> If the preson keeps crying I would ask “What would you need from the group now?”. If the person needs to leave I check if we need to make a break and for how long. Once she returns I ask the group “What do you want to do now as a group? How would you like to proceed going forward?” “How would you like to deal with such situation in the future if they occur?

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    Noppawan Phosopsawat

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    I would allow the moment for a while to give the person space. And as I have no background of what might cause this, I will be observant to the person’s body language. I will also be observant to other members’ reaction. My work here is to check for safe atmosphere for everybody to go further.

    I, then, would ask if he/she is ok to answer now or needs some times. I will also address that in our session, answer would help team to move on. But only if he/she feels safe to share.

    Otherwise, I can ask team members if there’s anything that would help in this situation as a team.

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    Loc Do

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    As an Action Learning Coach, I consider this is a chance to reframe and help team to work better together by letting them decide what action to be taken after an unexpected moment.

    I suggest we wait a little bit until the participant come over to prestige of his/her crying, whilst we can take some action to grab his/her notice like giving him/her tissue. Then when he/she caml down a little bit, we lean in to check-in with him/her (so called A)

    1. Hello A, how are are feeling right now? Is it good or not?
    2. Can you continue working with the team?
    3. Hello team, there is one of our member feeling … right now and he/she claim that he/she can/cannot continue with us, how will this impact to our teamwork?
    4. What will you do to work better as a team?
    5. Do we have agreement on these actions? Yes or No (check individually)
    6. Yes! Who have the next question?

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    HUE NGUYEN THI NGOC

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    In attempting to respond to a question the participant starts to cry, as an Action Learning Coach, I will let a minutes for the member to cry. This will help the the crying member to release her stress. The silent moment of the group when one member cry also the time for remaining members to think about what is happening. I believe that some members will make reflection of what recently has make the member into tears. after 1 minute and the crying member calmed down a little, I will ask her if she can continue with the group. Second, I will ask the group about the situation by following the process of Action Learning.

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    Suerda Moraes

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    I would be silent and wait to see if someone in the group would go to that person, otherwise I need to intervene so that he notices that he was seen, generates comfort. So I would ask: “what would you like to do? Want to share what you’re feeling? Do you want to continue the session or do we take a break? ”.

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    Naraiana Lessa

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    I would wait for a brief while to check whether one of the participants would ask a question about the emotional moment of the colleague. In case silence remained, I would ask the group how we could provide proper support for the participant. After suggestions arose, I would observe the participant’s reactions and body language. In case the participant showed signs of calming down, I would ask the group how we could make sure the participant was ready to return to the session. In case the participant still showed the same emotional signs, I would ask the group what else we could to help the participant calm down.

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    Jacek Romanski

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    In this situation, I would wait for a moment and let the participant take a breath. If she or he continues answering and I see that emotions are getting stable I would not intervene. I would observe what was going on further, how the group would react. If I notice the tension I would say that I have noticed it and ask the emotionally touched participant how she/he is feeling, if she/he has any need connected with the feeling, how the group could help in it.

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    Inthira Munion

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    As an AL Coach, I will hold the silence for at least 3-5 seconds. Observe whether the team is self-regulating. Then, would raise questions to them;
    “Team, how can you handle this situation? What can you do as a team?”

    Possibilities of the teams’ responses:
    – attending to the person crying by handing over tissues.
    – may want to go for a short break of 5-10 mins
    – may want to resume the session right after a quick breath-hold

    After the situation has settled, I would intervene by asking ” Team, how can you show support to your peers at the workplace if such a situation arises? How can we do better as a team?” after receiving responses, resume the session with “Who has the next question?”

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    Vien Nguyen

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    As an Action Learning Coach I would say:
    1. To the Team: I noticed that 1 member is in emotional status, what can we do now?
    2. To the emotional member: “I am observing that this point really touched you. It’s fine, please take the time for yourself, we can wait”.
    3. When the strong emotion is over, I will ask the emotional member: “Are you ok now? Is there anything the Team can help you with? (follow the need)
    4. In case the emotional member is out of the emotional status, I will ask: Can we continue?
    5. If yes – I ask the team: Who has the next question?

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    Marta Siudak

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    First, I would intervene saying directly to the crying person ‘I noticed that you have strong emotions. Am I right? Do you want to continue the session or want to pause for a while?’
    Then, depending on the response, I would continue or stop and wait until the person calm down and let the team know he/she is fine to continue.
    Then I would ask if we want to look closer to what happen lately. The group needs to reflect on the tears – if that was natural reaction or something happened that touched the person (too much stress or unkind/aggressive behaviors/conversation).
    I could also check if the person needs anything from the group to work on the emotions, how can the group support the person.
    If the reason of cry was a reaction to aggressive/unkind words I would let the group reflect on that. I they don’t notice it, I would say ‘I’ve noticed that we could hear some unkind words/answers, have you noticed it as well?’ ‘How does it affect the discussion and our reactions?’

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    Tatsawan Preedawiphat

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    I will wait a moment and ask the participant “What do you feel right now?”
    “Do you(participant) need a moment to take a brake or continue the session?”
    “Team, what if we make this session more relax, what will impact for everyone in the team?”
    “Team, What can we do after this to make the participant feel better?”

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    Makie Wing Yi Ho

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    I will observe the response of the team for a moment, if team can handle well and no issue come up, I will let them continue. If the team cannot handle it and issue arose, I will intervene, and ask what is happening now and ask what shall the team do in this kind of situation and continue.

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