RE3 – Work

Learn how to respond most effectively to your employees' emotional reactions to bad news.

RE³ assumes you already know how to spot the emotions that are displayed. The focus is not on how to recognize emotion but how to respond to emotions. If you want some help on recognizing emotion, go to the Face Suite and use METT3.0 and SETT 3.0. (You don’t need to also use METT profile and METT+ before using RE³, but those training tools will expand and improve your ability to spot facial expressions.)

Uncertain about the difference between RE³, METT, and SETT?

RE³ helps you determine how to respond to someone’s emotional expressions. RE³ assumes you already have acquired the skills to recognize facial expressions. METT and SETT are tools for sharpening your ability to recognize from facial expressions what someone is feeling. If you haven’t yet used METT and SETT, do so now and then come back and use RE³.

You will need to know the differences among macro, micro and mini (subtle) expressions to learn how to respond to them:

  • Macro expressions: these are the usual facial expressions that you can see without difficulty, because they typically are shown across the entire face, and last a few seconds. Most people don’t need help to spot macro expressions, but if you do, METT will help you.
  • Micro expressions: these very brief expressions (about 1/25 of a second) reveal attempts by people to conceal how they are feeling. They may be the result of deliberate suppression, or they may occur when people are unaware of how they are feeling, the result of unconscious repression.
  • Mini or Subtle expressions: These very small expressions, are usually limited to just one area of the face. They occur either when an emotion is just beginning to be felt, or leakage of concealed emotions.


The goal in RE³ is to become more considered in how you respond to another person’s emotions, more aware that there are always choices, and tradeoffs. While RE³ should make you more thoughtful about what to say, it does not train you how to say it – that would require in-person coaching.

If you want to learn more about emotions, what triggers them, and also how to respond to them, read Paul Ekman’s book Emotions Revealed, and his book co-authored with the Dalai Lama Emotional Awareness. If you are interested in Ekman’s ideas about how to increase compassion, read his latest book Moving Toward Global Compassion.


In RE³ Work you will see an employee’s emotional reactions when they hear unwelcome news from their manager. You will also choose the desired outcome for the employee after receiving bad news.

Even if you are not a manager or employee we believe that you will benefit from RE³. What you will learn should apply to other relationships.

  • Everything that is said, all the choices and feedback, are exactly the same for the male or female employee, and for the male or female manager. Choose one set of sexes and with it.
  • You will be able to select which emotion the employee is feeling, however we will show you sadness first. You will be offered a number of choices about what to say in response.


After you make a choice, you will receive feedback from Dr. Paul Ekman about the advantages or disadvantages of your choice. We encourage you to select all of the choices, even ones you might not consider making, in order to learn from the feedback provided for each choice.

View every emotion the employee shows

  • Select every choice about what to say and listen and watch the feedback about each choice.
  • You will learn from the feedback even about choices you would never make.


View the employee’s reactions to the employer either wanting him/her to stay with the company or resign

  • What might be best to say depends not just on the employee’s emotional reactions, but the desired outcome the manager is suggesting. You will choose whether the manager wants the employee to resign, or stay with the company.
  • You can switch from retain or resign whenever you wish.
  • Once completed, click the ‘I’m Finished’ button to see a recap of what you’ve learned.


It is up to you: what to watch, what feedback to get, and how much of RE³ you use. Remember you don’t have to finish it all in one sitting. You have RE3 for one year. Use the Navigation button to view where you are in the program and to change your selections. The choices are yours!

To make this most applicable to you, please answer the following questions:
  • I am a
  • My employee is a
  • You want your employee to
  • Employee feels the emotion of

Choose between Resign/Stay

Choose another Emotion

Female Manager Female Employee Retain Sadness


Before choosing your response, read through all the choices, then select the best one.
  • B) "This was really a difficult decision for the company to make, and I am not certain it was the right one."
  • C) "I can imagine this is not the news you wanted to hear, but I think we can do something so it doesn't happen again."
  • D) "We are sorry to disappoint you, but I think we can do something so it doesn't happen again."
  • E) "I am sorry to disappoint you, but we can work together so you get a promotion next time."

Congratulations on completing the RE³ (Responding Effectively to Emotional Expressions) tool. Below is a summary of the different scenarios that may arise with employees, and a recap of the best ways to respond. 

Resign from Position

  • Sad Expression: You can sympathize with the employee’s disappointment, but remove any ambiguity about the finality of the decision. If you like you can offer to try to help the employee find another position.
  • Anger Expression: Naming the frustration, which is generating the anger, may be helpful in explaining why the decision was made in terms of a bad fit and may make it easier for the employee to accept the decision.
  • Contempt Expression: You need to watch out because the contempt could motivate some problematic behavior. Your best choice is to avoid the emotional reaction and make the decision clear. You can respond with: ”I don’t think this position was a good match for your talents; you should be looking for a different kind of job.”


 Stay with Company

  • Sad Expression: Empathizing with the employee’s disappointment, and suggesting you will work with the employee to prevent another disappointment, is most likely to encourage the employee to stay.
  • Angry Expression: Not directly naming or responding to the employee’s anger, but instead showing concern for the disappointment which is likely to also be felt, and saying you will work with the employee to avoid another disappointment is the best choice.