How to comfort your stressed coworker?

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28 Oct 2022

Stress at the workplace has become a common scenario now, with longer working hours, the pressure to achieve targets, so on and so forth. The constant grind to perform well may get to people at times, resulting in high stress and irritability. It is important that you know how to comfort your stressed coworker. There is a good chance that your colleague sitting next to you suffers from the same stress. 

You may have noticed a dip in their performance. You may have noticed frequent slips. At some point, it’s sure to affect you and your work as well, either directly or indirectly. Their stress may soon rub off on you, hampering your work. Your brain is conditioned to pick up the emotions of people who are around you. 

So, what should you do? While you can opt to ignore your coworker's stress, it may not be a great idea. It would be better for your coworker as well as for you if you could take out some time to help them manage their stress.  

Here is how you can help a coworker manage stress. 

 Show you are approachable

To comfort your stressed coworker, make sure that they know that you are there to talk to them or listen to them if they want to talk. 

Everyone wants to be comforted during tough times, but it can be challenging to figure out how to convey support in an appropriate way. When you don’t know what to say, simply telling them that you are there is more than enough to make them feel better. 

They would feel grateful for your presence and they will know that they could talk to you whenever they wanted to. And it’s absolutely alright to let your co-worker know you’re there for them if they do want to talk about what’s going on. 

This doesn’t, however, mean barraging her with questions or insisting on details. Just make sure that if they need you, you will be there. Inquiring too much about their situation might make them uncomfortable and could drive your colleague away. 


The most important thing about knowing how to comfort your stressed coworker is kindness. When talking with a person under a lot of stress, make sure you have a calm and reassuring demeanor. You should focus on listening and validating that person’s experience, rather than talking right away about how they should deal with the situation. Listen, listen, listen to what they have to say. If they tell you that they are overwhelmed, worried, or stressed, tell them that you understand their state of mind, and are ready to help them reduce the stress if they needed any help. 

The object is to just make the other person feel heard and understood, which may sometimes be enough for someone to calm down. This way, you will not come across as judgmental or condescending. 

 Be empathetic

Let them know that you understand their state of mind and how they would possibly be feeling. Be empathetic, even if you have nothing to say to them or no advice to offer. If you think you cannot help them ease their stress, being empathetic towards their situation goes a long way in helping them relax.  

 Help them find the cause of the problem

You must talk to them to realize what is causing them so much stress. Once you understand the source of the stress, listen or act as a sounding board to help your coworker get to the reasons that are causing the stress. Obviously, the exact nature of help needed depends on what’s causing the stress.  

Here are some reasons that may have caused all the stress.

a) Are they overburdened?If your coworker is overwhelmed by workload, help him talk through priorities and get clarity on one or two tasks. Sometimes, to comfort your stressed coworker, sit them down and help them figure out what is the most important task they need to complete first. This will help them prioritize their work over other things that can wait. Then help them mark out a deadline for each task according to the priority and help them figure out a way to meet the deadlines. 

b) Are they lost?For the person who lacks confidence, talk your coworker through the task and what it will take to complete it successfully. Reinforce good ideas and help the person think through other strategies for parts that are more difficult to complete. Help your coworker talk through the situation and try to reframe it more constructively; break it into manageable chunks; and then help visualize a plan of action.

c) Did they have a conflict?If the coworker has had a conflict with a fellow coworker, it is best that you move out of the situation and let the Human Resources resolve the issue.  

 Offer unsolicited advice

Be a friend who will help you get through the stressful times. Focus on supporting, not preaching. Instead of telling them what to do and giving suggestions, you should try to make your coworker feel comfortable and relaxed. Keep your opinions to yourself.  

 Offer to help

Avoid giving personal opinions or using statements like—"It'll be alright, give it time," "It happens to the best of us." If you don't have anything to say, be proactive and show you’re willing to help. 

 Get some air

Another great approach to comfort your stressed coworker is to offer to talk through their to-do list while getting coffee. Physical movement, especially if it is in the fresh air, can often clear up the minds of people who seem to be stuck in a situation and help them think more clearly. There will also be times when it won’t be possible to eliminate the source of the stress. In those cases, try to reduce the toll the stress is taking. Small gestures go a long way.  

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