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Crying at Work:

January 15, 2008 9:43 AM

For the Spring issue of Women For Hire magazine, we want to know your opinion on when, if ever, is it acceptable for women to cry at work. Are there different types of crying on the job that could provoke different reactions? For example, when a child cries because she’s hurt, most adults respond with compassion and concern. When the same child cries because she didn’t get her way, some adults respond by saying, “Don’t be a baby.” Post your thoughts and anecdotes now on our Be Gutsy Blog and we’ll use select responses for inclusion in our next issue.

Comments (23)

There are very few reason to cry at work. It is unprofessional and from my expereinces those who cry often at work are likely to be legal trouble as they are generally unstable.

I cry at my job, almost daily. Why, you ask? Because I absolutely HATE what I do for a living!!! I love people and helping them with their needs, but I'm burned out, plain and simple. I work in a call center for DSS in Meck. County and I just need a career change. Can anybody help ME for a change?

I have a reputation for breaking down in tears at work. People think that I'm "sensitive", and while in the past I was - it's not so much about that anymore. I broke down today over anger about a job situation I was in. I was in a meeting with two managers, who are new, and are not familiar with the background situation. Then I felt like a total moron. They haven't witnessed my tears before (as most everyone else has). Now tomorrow I have to meet with my manager, and I know this is going to come up. I'm also seen as two extremes. I can be really assertive and fight for something, but on the other hand I can turn right around and burst into tears. It hasn't happened in awhile though, and I got even more angry that the tears came all of a sudden without warning. That made me cry harder. I hope I get through this meeting tomorrow. Makes me want to cry just thinking about it.

I learnt not to cry at any early age. I was not going to give them the satisfaction. I was picked on at school and verbally abused at home.

I had a male supervisor that always assumed that I would cry because I was a woman. When he called me into his office, after berating me, he would ask if I were crying. He once told me that I could get my finger caught in something and then I would be crying. He never would have said that to any of the male workers.

However, I did learn to cry very easy when I was with my abusive exhusband. I think that he wanted to see my tears more than he actually wanted to hurt me.

I still cry when I see the Colored Purple and Imitation of Life.

I don't know why people think that women cry in order to manipulate the situation. I am someone who on occasion cries when things go wrong - but that is because I am a perfectionist and I am angry at myself when things go wrong. I always try to do it privately or hold it back, but sometimes the tears can't be held back. I hate being seen in tears as I fear it makes me look weak and will hinder my career. If I could control my tears, I would.

There are 2 kinds of people, some are feelers and some are thinkers. Thinkers usually don't cry, wouldn't even occur to them unless there was a death or something like that. Feelers cannot help it. I am a feeler. I have tried to control the crying thing but stong emotions, especially and most of the time it is anger can make me cry uncontrollably. Most men do not understand that anger is usually what is causing the tears. We as women are not taught how to deal with anger well, so it comes out differently. It's not weakness, it's just a release valve. I do know it has NOTHING to do with will power or strength, it's an emotion and it is very human. I'm in my late 50s and I've always been a cryer. And yes, even at work.

I am a strong-minded person, but get teary easily. I don't know why. I hate it, and can't seem to control it. Then I spend hours being embarrassed for it. Sometimes I just pretend that it's because my contact lens is bothering me. I have been seeing a counselor and he says when things get to you at work, it's because they tap into some core injury you suffered in childhood and remind you of that injury. This is probably true. I find the things that make me automatically teary are ugly stuff that remind me of my parents scolding me unjustly as a kid. I feel like I should quit my job so as never again to see someone i couldn't help getting teary with.

It doesn't make a woman look weak to cry, it's just normal. Although, I do admit, that I have benefited from it. Once, I screwed up by not calling out of work, and after 3 days I being out (sick with my child) I returned to work. Upon returning, my boss asked me where I have been? I immediately started crying and then had the sympathy of his co-workers and even his boss. I even got them (everyone but the boss) to believe that I did call out(even though I didn't). He tried to have me written up for 'failure to call out'- or whatever the broken rule was. Long story short, the boss got fired and I have an even better job at the same company.

I am an emotional person. Have been since the day I was born. No matter where I am, or what has happened I can tear up, or down right cry. I hate this and cannot seem to control the tears when something happens (not for minor things mind you, but for any thing that may affect me within the scope of my job.

I was at work one day doing has my immediate supervisor had asked of me. Send elecronic invitations to supervisors re: a meeting to be set up by my immediate supervisor. Instructions were to include two other management personnel IN THE INVITE. As I was making appointments, one of the "management personnel" mentioned that shouldn't that be - - - - -. NOTE: INVITE WAS SENT: MEETING WITH - - - AND my Immediate Supervisor's name. Invites went to management personnel. Because my immediate supervisor listens to lower management's suggestions, and very often agrees with them, I took heed, and went back to "correct" the situation.
As the invites went out again with the corrections, the lower management came into my office and blew up because I had made corrections as to who would be attending the meetings. I was taken aback, and felt I really messed up. Well there went the tears. As hard as I tried preventing the tears--they just couldn't be stopped. I HATE THIS! I have to tell myself that this is who I am. My dad is the same way as are my sibilings. One of my daughters also have the complex. Unfortunately, there seems nothing to be done. So, if you are a crier, try not to be hard on yourself--It happens! If it makes others uncomfortable, take heart that they, not you, cannot express emotions as you do!

I have co-workers who cry all the time. Even in professional meetings. I myself am a cryer. But, what I am learning is that being emotional is no excuse for not having professional composure. After awhile, all those tears can make co-workers wonder when you are truly being sincere or not.

If you must cry at work, I say do it in private. It's better for all and safeguards your dignity.

One time my supervisor cried and I never thought that it was a sign of weakness or lack of stability. I have to admit that I have cried at work, the first time I took a comment personally and ran to the bathroom to cry because I didn't want to be seen and a colleague must have saw that I was upset and followed to check to see if I was okay. I felt a little emabarrassed but I felt better after I cried. Another time it was a death in the family and the loss of my cat and I was really upset. I really try not to cry at work, I'd rather cry in private so no one can hear or see me and I can cry louder when I am alone and it is very cathartic. I have also comforted colleagues who have gotten bad news at work or had personal problems and needed to cry. At a lunch break we had a discussion about if crying was okay in public. I admitted to being emotional and crying to work through my feelings. I believe it is okay to show emotion rather than to keep it bottled up. I get a big lump in my throat when I try not to cry. I have become more emotional after 30, it is harder for me to to hold back the tears when under stress. I think that men and women deal with stress in the workplace by showing different emotions but women are often criticized for crying.

Maybe it's just me, but I've always had a strong belief that any job, regardless of what it is, that requires me to lose ANY bodily fluids other than a little sweat just isn't worth it. That goes for tears, blood, urine-you get the picture. My motto for years has been "if you make me cry, I have to quit". BTW-I've only had to quit once...the day I saw my boss being carted away in handcuffs. I'm glad I learned that early in my career.

The crying at work is something that I have a tough time with. I work hard to keep my composure but when I am pushed to the boiling point, I will stand my ground and walk away and let the tears flow in private. I feel that if they see me cry that it means I am a weak person when I am not weak I am rather a strong person. I wish that I could stop the whole issue but have not been able to do so. :-(

I agree that it's inappropriate to show emotions at work but I once read an article about showing emotion at work. If a man cries or shows anger--he's often regarded as having a sensitive side (in a positive way)and is respected. And if women show the same emotions, they are often regarded as being over-sensitive. I know men rarely cry at work...but they do show anger a lot of times. So why are women treated differently.

--just a thought.

Women by nature are more emotional then men, but a hard lesson is when things happen at work related to business, it is business and not personal. I had to learn to not take business decisions personally and find productive ways to vent my frustrations by offering solutions so I didn't end up in the bathroom in tears. As several have already stated some situations like layoffs or a death are personal and people expect you to be emotional in those situations.

I try never to cry in front of anyone else (because I'm vain, and my face gets red and blotchy when I cry). I've been mostly successful at keeping my tears to myself. I started a new job recently, at a very stressful time in my life, and one day I ended up crying at my desk -- very quietly. A coworker came to do a training exercise with me, and I simply said "Sorry, I'm having my own little private nervous breakdown. I'll be with you in just a minute."

She went back to her desk, and in about five minutes, I was composed enough to invite her over to finish the training.

I hate when women use tears as a weapon to get their way. But you can't always control when you're going to be upset by something, and I believe it's unrealistic to "leave your personal life at home." Coworkers share all the good things about our personal lives -- our accomplishments, our kids' accomplishments, our vacation plans, stories from childhood -- so why do we recoil from sharing the bad things -- our pain, our fears, our frustrations? It's all just part of the reality and truth of our lives. So what's the big deal about a few tears? I'm not suggesting that we have a weekly cry-in, but if weepy is how you feel, let it out.

Crying at work and the impression it creates is really a matter of perception on the part of the viewer. This is a very subjective reaction. If the person is someone with whom you have a positive relationship and is empathetic, perhaps the crying will be overlooked. However, if the person is not your gentlest or kindest person, then they might view you with pity, perhaps even contempt. In the workplace crying could lead to adverse consequences, i.e. loss of advancement opportunities. Whenever possible, it's best to avoid it or do it in private.

It is never appropropriate to cry at work. Co-workers, especially your boss, sees this as a 'weakness', that you can't stand the heat, that you are emotional. We all get emotional at one time or another, even over trivial things, but don't let those that make decisions about your employment, see you cry. Your job, such as future promotions, may be impacted, because you will be forever'stamped' as a crier.

I see nothing wrong with crying or showing emotion at work, as that means you are a caring and passionate person who strives 100% to achieve your goals. I recently had this happen to me to our company president, but as I relayed this information to other executives, they "all" made the comment that I was the most efficient, caring and understanding person they knew and they would not change a thing about my character. They felt there is definitely a difference between male and female and this is the normal make-up of a female, so no need to be ashamed of who we are.
Thank you.

I think that you must remain strong at work, even when others try to get you down and break you. The only time I feel it is okay to cry at work is when you have lost a family member or friend. Then the tears should flow! But other than that - women should not use their emotions to make others feel sorry for them.

I feel that crying at works, shows you are too emotional and unacceptable to me; however, as woman we are emotional and sometimes it happens. I was given a two week noticed and was informed, I would be laid off. I was not able to tell anyone. The Vice President of the company allowed me to stay, because I was in the process of refinancing my home. Thee days later I received this email:

One thing that I would like to caution you on is telling people that your job is being eliminated with any jabs at the company. At least one person has reported that you are taking jabs at the department. I am assuming this not to be the case. However, do be mindful of your actions these last two weeks and leave with the great dignity that you possess and that you are certainly about. P.K.

I was so upset; I could not hold back the tears. This was a rumor started by someone. This insulted my character, dignity and loyalty to the company and I could not hold back the tears. I had to be escorted to the hall way. I was hurt.

Sometimes, we try hard to be tough/professional at work. However, when something is said or done that strikes the cord in the middle of our soul, we find ourselves crying.

Early in my career, I cried upon being told that I was laid off (right after lunch). It came as a surprise and I was caught off guard by my own tears. I tried holding them back and perhaps because the person letting me go was a woman, it made me feel less vulnerable. In this scenario, I think crying is an involuntary reaction and applies to both men and women because of the stigma and stress attached to suddenly being unemployed.

I must say, the only colleagues I've seen cry at work have been women who've either taken a critique too personally or brought personal issues to work and didn't leave them at the door. In these situations, I think it was inappropriate and showed a lack of professional tact...

I find it very demeaning to cry at work. It does not give a person dignity. I try really hard to maintain my dignity during my working hours. Mainly because the respect that we need to complete our work efficiently does not need emotion. Believe me I have had some really bad incidences during the working hours. I feel that I handled them with dignity during those emotional times.

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