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

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If you have already looked at Family or Law Enforcement, click here.

The goal in Responding Effectively training is to become more considered in how you respond to another person’s emotions, aware that there are always choices and tradeoffs.

RETT expects 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 Micro Expressions Training Tool and Subtle Expressions Training Tool. (You don’t need to also use Micro Expressions Intensive Training and Micro Expressions Profile Training Tool before using Responding Effectively training, but those training tools will expand and improve your ability to spot facial expressions.)

Uncertain about the difference between Responding Effectively, Micro Expressions, Subtle Expressions, and FACS?

Responding Effectively Training Tool helps you determine how to respond to someone’s emotional expressions. Responding Effectively Training Tool expects you already have acquired the skills to recognize facial expressions. Micro Expressions Training Tool and Subtle Expressions Training Tool are tools for sharpening your ability to recognize from facial expressions what someone is feeling. If you haven’t yet used Micro Expressions and Subtle Expressions, do so now and then come back and use RETT.

FACS (the Facial Action Coding tool) is a tool for measuring facial movements. It takes between 50-100 hours to learn. If your goal is to be more sensitive to recognizing emotions, especially concealed emotions, you want Micro Facial Expressions Training Tool or Subtle Facial Expressions Training Tool not FACS. If you want to learn what to consider when you respond to another person’s emotions you want PEG Interactive not FACS.

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, Micro Facial Expressions Training Tool will help you.
  • Micro expressions: these are very brief expressions that are so fast that most people do not see them. They 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 are very small expressions that are usually limited to just one area of the face. They occur either when an emotion is just beginning to be felt, or a leakage of concealed emotions.



In RETT: Workplace you will see an employee’s emotional reactions when they hear unwelcome news from their supervisor. You will see sadness first. You will also choose the desired outcome for the employee after receiving bad news.

You will be offered a number of choices about how to initially respond to an employee’s emotions. 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 ever 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 supervisor 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 supervisor is suggesting. You will choose whether the supervisor 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 will be up to you: what to watch, what feedback to get, and how much of Responding Effectively training you use. Remember you don’t have to finish it all in one sitting. You have RETT for one year. Use the Navigation button to view where you are in the program and to change your selections. The choices are yours! The rules that govern employee and employer relations differ from state to state and country to country, so you will need to consider that as well.


To make this most applicable to you, please answer the following questions:

  • I want to see a
  • with a
  • You want your employee to

Choose between Resign/Stay

Choose another Emotion

Click here if you haven’t gone through all the available scenarios and responses.

Congratulations on completing the RETT: Workplace 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.


RETT trains you to consider the first thing you’re going to say, not what will come next and next after that. While RETT should make you more thoughtful about what to say, it can’t 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.



Brian Sullivan, Ph.D., Business and Management Consultant, London, England