A: When we spend one-third of our lives at work, it’s difficult to always separate our work and personal lives. We’re human, and at times our private problems can creep into the workplace. It sounds like your co-worker is being particularly impacted by her breakup. It’s understandable; relationship endings are hard! The best course of action is to be compassionate, patient, and forgiving. If you’re close to her, you can invite her out to lunch and allow her to share her feelings about what’s going on. Sometimes just having someone listen can make tough situations easier to handle, and she’ll realize she’s not alone. You can also offer to take some work off her plate, if that’s possible and would be helpful to her. At the very least, know she isn’t her best self right now. If she is distant or snappy with you, don’t take it personally. Know this too shall pass.
Arden Clise is a business-etiquette trainer and author of Spinach in Your Boss’s Teeth: Essential Etiquette for Professional Success. Visit her website at cliseetiquette.com.