Business Etiquette - Crying at Work
When Emotions Get the Best of You, Is It Best to Show Them or Remain Calm?
Dear April Masini,
I am part of a project team at work. We recently lost a huge account due to a number of factors. Admittedly, one of the issues was an error I had made in a correspondence with the client. When we had to explain ourselves to the company's executives, the project leader overemphasized the part that my mistake played in the loss, basically blaming the issue on me. I was pulled aside by our manager after the meeting and told, essentially, that I was near being fired for the mistake and would need to exceed my normal performance expectations to keep my job."
I was so upset about being wrongly blamed that I nearly cried in front of my manager, but managed to keep it together until I reached the ladies' room. Once I thought about it, though, I wondered if actually showing him how upset I had become would have been a good way of asserting the fact that, while I accept some blame for the problem, it is not entirely my fault. Do you think this would have been an effective way of showing my dedication to my job?
Executive Cry Baby
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Executive Cry Baby,
If you had decided to cry in front of your boss, you would have taken a huge risk. Would it have worked to soften him on his "punishment" for you? Maybe. Would it have convinced him that your project manager had treated you unfairly? Possibly. But would the image of you crying have popped back into his head when he was considering you for your next promotion or raise? It's very likely.
Work and Crying Don't Mix Overall, I would not recommend crying at work. The reason is that most crying is a loss of control and an overwhelming emotional response in a setting that is not supposed to be emotional. Emotions are considered to be deficits in most male dominated industries. Being tough and sucking it up are considered to be signs of strength in these offices and companies. Crying is the antithesis of this. Crying isn’t seen as powerful or professional in offices.
Is there a place for crying in the office?
Emotions are powerful. In business, power is important. If someone wants to use all their power, than they would be wise to consider all their assets — including their emotions.
Most men do not cry as easily as women do, and have been taught not to cry in front of other people, so the current atmosphere at most offices is that crying is not a professional behavior because it is not male behavior and male behavior is the norm. Other such behaviors that are not considered appropriate are wearing clothing that defines sexuality, flirting or other sexual behavior. Losing one's temper or cursing, which is more of a male behavior than a female behavior in general, is more widely accepted.
That said, there is a time and place for all powerful behaviors. But using crying as a power tool in offices is risky because it is not the norm. That said, many successful business people must take risks to achieve out of the box success.
If you do cry in the office, make sure it is a conscious decision. If you are going to use crying as a form of power, then being out of control would not be using that power effectively.