We all do it, even though we would prefer that no one knows about it. To cry at work is not as uncommon as you think. Here are 6 situations where you will cry in the office, and how to handle each of them.
1. You receive bad news about a friend or loved one
When you get terrible personal news, most people will cry. And sometimes this will happen at work as well. It could be a death in the family, being dumped, or a loved one getting sick.
These are some of the times most people will think it’s perfectly acceptable to shed a tear in public.
Of course, going into a meeting room is probably more comfortable, but I’ve never seen anyone shame or judge people for crying in the office because of this.
What to do: Just cry. It’s human. It shows you have feelings. Most people will understand.
2. You’re physically and psychologically exhausted
Sometimes, work can put you under intense pressure. Working in a stressed environment with little sleep and harsh feedback will wear you down after a while.
Crying at work can be a result of being too tired, and suddenly feeling like it’s all too much. It’s often triggered by a small mistake or incident that tip you over the edge.
If this keeps happening, you should try to reconsider your work environment. If you’re that exhausted all the time, maybe changing career paths isn’t such a bad idea? Otherwise, I would suggest just getting some sleep.
What to do: Go home. Get some sleep. Things will look brighter tomorrow.
3. When you get angry
There are plenty of opportunities to get angry at work.
I sometimes cry when I’m angry, and I bet you do too. It’s awful. And it’s when you least of all want someone to see you cry.
It’s usually when you want people to perceive you as strong and resourceful.
But trying to sound brave and smart through congested breathing while blinking 3 times per second to hold your tears back isn’t easy.
What to do: Take several deep breaths. Deal with the problem later. Don’t send emails until you’ve calmed down.
4. When you fuck up something that was easy
Sometimes you make stupid mistakes when you shouldn’t. And you know you can do better.
Getting yelled at still hurts. Especially if you’re new and don’t know how big of a fuck-up it was.
Knowing that you’re not alone will make it easier. I’ve been in several situations where either I or colleagues have fucked up. Comforting each other and sharing the mistake with someone who’s been in the same situation always helps.
When you’re new, you need to remember that everyone else makes mistakes as well.
What to do: Own up to the mistake, and think through what you can do to avoid it in the future. Get a colleague to cheer you up with a story of mistakes they made.
5. When you lose out on a promotion or are treated unfairly
You’ve worked super hard, and you know the seniors you work with are happy with you. Yet, when it’s promotion time, you don’t get it.
There are tonnes of frustrating situations where you feel like you don’t get what you deserve.
Your bonus is cut in half. Or you get a review back that you know isn’t correct. Your boss criticises something you’re really good at, and you don’t understand why.
Sometimes this is all from internal politics, misunderstandings, or bad communication. Other times, you’ve misread the situation, and you weren’t the best candidate.
It’s hard either way. Your ego gets a slap in the face, and the bruises linger for a while afterward.
What to do: Excuse yourself and ask to continue the conversation later. Maybe you can even admit that you need a moment to think or calm yourself before you continue.
6. When someone treats you badly
These are the dark stories. When someone grabs your ass after a conference dinner. Or when your married boss tries to kiss you during an allnighter at the office.
You don’t necessarily cry because what happened was so difficult for you to handle. Even though that is the case sometimes as well.
You cry because you feel like you weren’t taken seriously. If someone feels they can kiss you or grab you, they don’t see you as a colleague or discussion partner.
What to do: First of all; realize that you’re not the reason the person acted the way they did. You’ll meet a lot of assholes when you work in a male-dominated industry. You’re allowed to cry.
Step back from the situation and do what you can to document it if you want to do something about it later.
You’re not the only one crying
Crying often feels so shameful. And we think we’re the only ones doing it.
But that isn’t true. At women’s only events, crying has been discussed several times. I was relieved when I discovered I wasn’t the only one who had done it.
People mentioned losing out on a promotion, a bonus, or getting lewd or hurtful comments from a coworker as reasons. I wasn’t alone, and neither are you.
And these were all women I admired. You can have a successful career even if you show feelings.
Is crying at work only negative?
I don’t think crying is something that gets you ahead in your career, or makes you a better woman.
But at least it shows that you care about your job. When you stop crying about things that used to bother you, maybe you’ve become jaded or don’t care as much.
So try to look at it positively. Crying shows that you’re alive and that you’re struggling to reach your goals in life.
To make it easier to survive, try learning breathing techniques from yoga and NLP. Calming yourself often helps.
And keeping some spare makeup at work in your emergency kit is also golden. At least no one can see that you cried afterwards.
- This article in huffpost about how to handle crying in the office
- Or this asking female leaders what they think of crying at work
- Or this article in NBCnews investigating if it’s ok to cry at work (which it isn’t according to this article)
Do you want to share a story when you ended up crying at work and how you handled the situation?