Few work behaviors make coworkers as uncomfortable as crying. While most of us know that crying at work is not the best scenario, there are times when tears escape. I'm a boss, not an unfeeling robot, but contrary to what a recent article in Marketplace Money says, I don't feel crying is okay at work. The article quotes author Anne Kreamer who attributes the uptick of workplace crying to the fact that there are more women in the workplace. For women like me who have worked hard at developing a professional image, I find this assumption totally wrong and offensive. If people, male or female are crying at work, they should consider finding a new job!
So should you cry at work? Forbes notes a recent study that shows when women cry, testosterone levels in the men near her drop. Still, the magazine quotes Professor Elsbach of the University of California-Davis as saying, "The worst offenses, found, are crying in a public meeting or because of work stress, like a looming deadline or coworker disagreement, because it is considered disruptive and weak. Crying in a private performance evaluation is also considered unprofessional and often manipulative." However, crying after hearing the news that a family member had passed away was acceptable behavior for both men and women. There are times when workplace crying isn't image-shattering.
So what's bad work crying behavior?
- Crying because of social issues with coworkers
- Crying because of a poor review
- Crying triggered by a confrontation with a customer
- Crying because work changes have occurred
- Crying after a telephone phone call (unless it's a death in the family)
- Crying because you're having a bad day
How can you avoid the tears? You'll have to be in tune with your body. There's no question women are tapped into their feelings a bit tighter than men but that's no excuse for acting out of control. Try these steps for fighting back the tears.
Talk tough to yourself
- Step away from the stress momentarily
- Acknowledge (privately) that hormones may be betraying you
- Exercise briefly with a quick walk around the break room or some other physical activity
Don't get on the phone with a sympathetic friend. That's asking for a good cry. Also, don't pull coworkers into your tearfest. You'll only embarrass them and yourself. After you've had a chance to mull over the urge to cry, trace the trigger. It's good to know what's making you feel like crying. That way you can resist the trigger next time.
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