Crying in the workplace is seldom seen as a positive, although it is a natural reaction to many of life’s circumstances. If someone in your organization is afflicted with a fatal illness or involved in a terrible accident, crying as a display of human reaction is more forgiving than when you are reprimanded or critiqued by an employer or you do not receive the bonus or raise you had hoped for. If a woman wants to be equal and be taken seriously, crying is not a valued executive skill, rather a sign that she cannot handle the stressors of day-to-day business. Fair…no, but it simply is.
Following are crying tips:
1. Deal with the situation professionally versus socially – Keep the situation in perspective.
If you are feeling sensitive at work because you are going through a personal trial at home, try and separate the two and focus solely on the current situation.
You CAN control your feelings – it will take some thought, even practice, but make an effort to find out what helps diffuse your own emotional situation. What works for you might be completely different for someone else. Examples are mediation, being aware of your breathing, or thinking of something else. Perhaps reciting a prayer in your head until you calm down.
2. Prepare yourself – If you are prone to an outburst of emotion, rehearse the speech or scenario in your head and concentrate on the outcome. If you know you are walking into a difficult situation, rehearse your responses in advance. Even if they don’t come out the same way, you are prepared.
3. Look at the bigger picture – If you find yourself constantly feeling frustrated, voiceless and victimized in your current situation, but never so in other situations, it may be time to look for another job opportunity that allows you to flourish. Remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with change.
4. Difference between tearing up vs. sobbing – If you work in a nonprofit where you are dealing with the difficult reality of abused children or something similar, tearing up, genuinely tearing up, may work to your advantage on a very, very rare occasion when imparting a story and how funding is so vitally important. I am not advocating tears; I am giving a small reprieve for certain situations.
5. Cry at your own discretion – Once in a blue moon may be acceptable but if this is a daily occurrence, people tend to lose confidence in your ability to handle stress and may soon be looking for other options.
6. What are valid reasons to cry vs. non-valid reasons to cry?
Valid: An untimely death, an unexpected tragedy, even a smashed hand in a drawer allows you to shed a tear without remorse.
Non-valid: You didn’t get acknowledged for a job well done, your boss forgot to mention your name at an important board meeting, or you didn’t get invited to a colleagues luncheon. Admittedly, your feelings may be hurt, but don’t let them see you sweat.
If you’re wondering if I’ve ever shed a tear at work, the answer is a resounding “Yes”! My personal technique is to push the tip of my tongue up against the back of my two front teeth. It may not be scientific, but it works for me.
Keep your chin up and good luck!
For more tips, watch my interview on KTBC TV7 (FOX): Crying in the Workplace