How to tackle a colleague who cries when criticised

A member of my team is extremely emotional and during group discussions she will often break down in tears if her work is negatively critiqued in any way. Because we meet weekly to discuss the sales performance of each team, her overly emotional behaviour is becoming a stumbling block during the review sessions. How can I tackle this issue in a sensitive way? MM, Sharjah.

This is one of those situations where you have to make sure that you deal with the right problem. This sort of overly emotional behaviour in the face of criticism often has a different cause – so the criticism is a trigger for an emotional outpouring which is really about something else.

The trick is to find out what is really upsetting your team member. That means having difficult, personal and private conversations with her. This will require you to be sympathetic, but also assertive: if you can’t get her to address the underlying problem, then her behaviour is unlikely to change.

First I’d encourage you to think back over your colleague’s time with the organisation. Has she always been this sensitive to criticism? If not, when did she change? Finding the trigger for that change will usually enable you to help her address the real issue. Perhaps a colleague was especially cutting or cruel in some criticism that was offered. Or perhaps someone whose opinion she values has said something critical and this has been especially hurtful. Or maybe she was overlooked for a promotion she felt she deserved. The possible reasons are endless. It may also well be that the trigger is not work-related at all. There may be a domestic issue which means your colleague is trying to perform while carrying a heavy stress load – in those circumstances, she may not be ready to deal with anything but positive feedback.

You can’t let the status quo prevail because, as you say, her behaviour is becoming a stumbling block in the meetings. Nor can she possibly be happy with a situation where, on a weekly basis, she finds herself crying as part of what must feel to her like ritual humiliation. So no excuses. Sit down with her and try to help her address this issue and the cause of it. Give yourselves plenty of time, complete privacy and acknowledge that you may well need more than one meeting to get to the bottom of things. Start by asking questions and remember not to be judgmental. If the reasons behind your colleague’s behaviour are private and personal, then of course she has the right not to share them with you. In which case you both need to focus on exploring coping strategies so that the problems stop preventing her and the team from having fruitful meetings. If your colleague does share the reasons behind her unhappiness with you, remember that you are not there to provide a solution to those problems. You are there to help her find a solution, or at least a way of dealing with the emotional seepage affecting her work.

It is quite possible that the reasons behind her response in meetings are indeed related to work. She may feel unappreciated or bullied or otherwise targeted. Whatever you might feel about her reasons, they are valid to her and they need to be treated with respect. If there is a work-related interpersonal relationship at the root of the problem, you may also need to become involved in addressing that issue.

If you feel utterly incapable of having this conversation, then by all means find someone who is better equipped than you – a close friend, perhaps, or a more empathetic colleague. But this is an abdication of your role and responsibility, and it says as much to her and others about you as her own behaviour. She may be unhappy, while you may be too ill-equipped to take on a managerial function which requires you to lead people.

Doctor’s prescription

Good luck with it – if you can help her through this, you’ll have a dedicated team member on whom you can rely.

Roger Delves is the director of the Ashridge Executive Masters in Management and an adjunct professor at the Hult International Business School. He is the co-author of The Top 50 Management Dilemmas: Fast Solutions to Everyday Challenges. Email him at for advice on any work issues.

Company profile

Name: Cashew
Started: 2020
Founders: Ibtissam Ouassif and Ammar Afif
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: FinTech
Funding size: $10m
Investors: Mashreq, others

Most polluted cities in the Middle East

1. Baghdad, Iraq
2. Manama, Bahrain
3. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
4. Kuwait City, Kuwait
5. Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
6. Ash Shihaniyah, Qatar
7. Abu Dhabi, UAE
8. Cairo, Egypt
9. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
10. Dubai, UAE

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report


1. Chad
2. Iraq
3. Pakistan
4. Bahrain
5. Bangladesh
6. Burkina Faso
7. Kuwait
8. India
9. Egypt
10. Tajikistan

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report


Director: David Lowery

Stars: Alexander Molony, Ever Anderson, Joshua Pickering

Rating: 3/5

Gully Boy

Director: Zoya Akhtar
Producer: Excel Entertainment & Tiger Baby
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Kalki Koechlin, Siddhant Chaturvedi​​​​​​​
Rating: 4/5 stars


Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

Top goalscorers in Europe

34 goals - Robert Lewandowski (68 points)

34 - Ciro Immobile (68)

31 - Cristiano Ronaldo (62)

28 - Timo Werner (56)

25 - Lionel Messi (50)

*29 - Erling Haaland (50)

23 - Romelu Lukaku (46)

23 - Jamie Vardy (46)

*NOTE: Haaland's goals for Salzburg count for 1.5 points per goal. Goals for Dortmund count for two points per goal.

The specs

Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cyl turbo
Power: 190hp at 5,200rpm
Torque: 320Nm from 1,800-5,000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 6.7L/100km
Price: From Dh111,195
On sale: Now

'The Batman'

Stars:Robert Pattinson

Director:Matt Reeves

Rating: 5/5

Company profile

Name: Steppi

Founders: Joe Franklin and Milos Savic

Launched: February 2020

Size: 10,000 users by the end of July and a goal of 200,000 users by the end of the year

Employees: Five

Based: Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai

Financing stage: Two seed rounds – the first sourced from angel investors and the founders' personal savings

Second round raised Dh720,000 from silent investors in June this year


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2


By 2030, Abu Dhabi aims to achieve:

• 39.3 million visitors, nearly 64% up from 2023

• Dh90 billion contribution to GDP, about 84% more than Dh49 billion in 2023

• 178,000 new jobs, bringing the total to about 366,000

• 52,000 hotel rooms, up 53% from 34,000 in 2023

• 7.2 million international visitors, almost 90% higher compared to 2023's 3.8 million

• 3.9 international overnight hotel stays, 22% more from 3.2 nights in 2023

Non-oil trade

Non-oil trade between the UAE and Japan grew by 34 per cent over the past two years, according to data from the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre. 

In 10 years, it has reached a total of Dh524.4 billion. 

Cars topped the list of the top five commodities re-exported to Japan in 2022, with a value of Dh1.3 billion. 

Jewellery and ornaments amounted to Dh150 million while precious metal scraps amounted to Dh105 million. 

Raw aluminium was ranked first among the top five commodities exported to Japan. 

Top of the list of commodities imported from Japan in 2022 was cars, with a value of Dh20.08 billion.

  • Kirill Shamalov, Russia's youngest billionaire and previously married to Putin's daughter Katarina
  • Petr Fradkov, head of recently sanctioned Promsvyazbank and son of former head of Russian Foreign Intelligence, the FSB. 
  • Denis Bortnikov, Deputy President of Russia's largest bank VTB. He is the son of Alexander Bortnikov, head of the FSB which was responsible for the poisoning of political activist Alexey Navalny in August 2020 with banned chemical agent novichok.  
  • Yury Slyusar, director of United Aircraft Corporation, a major aircraft manufacturer for the Russian military.
  • Elena Aleksandrovna Georgieva, chair of the board of Novikombank, a state-owned defence conglomerate.