Crying at work - should you?

By : Administrator
Published 28th September 2018 |
Read latest comment - 3rd October 2018

I subscribe to the Harvard Business Review mail list, which fires over all sorts of titbits, some good, some odd and some controversial 

So this came through and have pasted below. With a business owner or manager head on, what do you think?

Don’t Apologise for Crying at Work

People are often told they shouldn’t cry at work. For women especially, shedding tears can be seen as a sign of weakness. But crying is a normal biological response to stress, frustration, or sadness. So if you break down at work, don’t apologise or allow others to accuse you (explicitly or implicitly) of being unprofessional. 

If you’re not embarrassed about crying, others won’t be either. Own your tears. Take a breath, and then say something like, “As you can see, I really care about this topic.” Let yourself laugh about it, if you can — often that will relieve the tension and make you and everyone else feel more comfortable.

On the other hand, if you begin sobbing, excuse yourself and leave the room until you calm down. But when you come back, or the next time you’re with that group, bring up what happened and talk about it transparently.

Source taken from: Harvard Business Review - Why Is Crying at Work Such a Big Deal?

As an older male and programmed in the 1970's, I would certainly struggle with crying employees. I like to think I'd be sympathetic and have had to deal with employee issues over the years, but to date, never had someone breakdown in tears.

Be interesting to hear some thoughts on this, both male and female. 

Steve Richardson
Gaffer of My Local Services
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You've never made someone at work cry? Even with your jokes? 

There is definitely something to be said for not repressing emotions, and the fact that men are seen as 'unmanly' if they cry really winds me up as I think it causes a lot of problems in society. Repressed emotion tends to come out in angry and violent outbursts.  It is definitely healthy to cry if you want or need to.

However, whether the workplace is the right place for this kind of expression is another matter and arguably it is not! We can't do anything we want in a work environment as we have to be professional and consider others. I think if there's a major life event and you are upset and crying due to that, then that shouldn't be frowned upon and people should be supported that are having a hard time (bereavement, relationship breakdown, mental illness etc.) but regularly weeping at your desk isn't going to be that productive and work isn't the right place for it. 


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I agree with Rebecca - it is unfair not to be able to display true emotions when we need to but there is definitely a time and a place, and the office is not always it. No matter what the scenario, if you cry in front of colleagues it will change their perception of you, so do you really want that?  

Much better to excuse yourself from the situation and gather your emotions by considering the following:

If you have made a monumental c**k-up then crying won't solve anything unless you have a wonderful boss who will put  their arm around you and coo "there, there.." whilst offering to take the blame for you. Seeing as most of us don't have a boss even vaguely resembling that, then heed the message crying won't solve anything - but positivity will. Get on it, sort it, let 'professional you' clear up the mess and get back on top.

If you are crying at work because you have been driven to it by a nasty boss/colleague or you are unhappy in your work, then quit. Life is too short for evil co-workers and blubbing at your desk. 


Many thanks,
Natalie - Your Local Girl Friday
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