Big Girls Don’t Cry–On the Job!

Do you or your co-workers cry on the job? If so, you need to stop. I know first-hand that work (no matter what kind you do) can be very stressful and upsetting and that stress, for most women, can easily translate into an emotional meltdown. I’ve also had my share of upsetting events that brought on the tears and can tell you that crying at work is not cool. Some people say that it’s important to be “real” and that in today’s pro-female work environments it’s ok  for women to show vulnerability. I agree. In some circumstances you shouldn’t be afraid to show your vulnerability, and should put your emotions out there, but I don’t think the place for that is at work in the form of crying.

Crying over professional matters is perceived as weakness and you don’t want that to be how you are perceived at work.

Notice I said, “over professional matters.” That is a critical distinction because I’m not saying that you can’t cry over personal matters that may occur at work. Let me clarify. For example, if you just had your end-of-year review and it was less than satisfactory, DO NOT break down and start crying in front of your boss or even in front of your co-workers. Just suck it up  and keep it moving. Go back to your office, desk, or cubicle and start working on your improvement plan! If you must cry, go to the bathroom, shed all the tears you want, wash your face, fix your mascara and head back to work with your chin up. On the other hand, if you get a call that your dad collapsed in the shower and has been taken to the hospital and your first response is to burst into tears, by all means go right ahead! If your co-workers surprise you with a birthday party or a baby shower, go ahead and shed a few tears of joy.  No one would fault you for that. (if they do, you work with cyborgs) However, they will fault you if every time they turn around you are crying over something or crying over nothing.

Yes, there are some very sensitive types who cry at the drop of a hat. I must admit, I’m one of them. I am the first to cry at sad scenes  or even very happy scenes in movies or books. I will cry during long good-byes.  I can and have cried simply because someone else is crying and I empathize with them.  However, I have learned that my extra-sensitive side has to be kept under wraps at work.

There are two reactions that people have towards criers at work: They pity them and think they are “cute” (as in puppy dog or kitty cat cute) and they think “Aww, poor Sarah. She’s always crying. She’s so emotional/sensitive/etc.” or they find criers extremely annoying. They think, “Good grief, there goes Sarah again. She’s always crying. She needs to grow up!” In either case, crying at work  is interpreted as a cry for attention (pun intended) and not exactly as flattering behavior..

The bottom line is that criers are not taken seriously. Is this a fair assessment? No? Not at all. Like I said, I cry easily too,  but as they say, a bit too often nowadays, “it is what it is” and unless you don’t want to be taken seriously at work, you’ll have to keep your tears in check.

What to do when you can’t hold it in

If you are in the middle of a workplace meeting or an occasion where coworkers are present when you feel the waterworks welling up, take a breath and excuse yourself to regain your composure and then attempt to address the situation without crying. If you can’t leave unnoticed, acknowledge that you feel very strongly about whatever the issue is and ask that you be excused. If you cannot rejoin the conversation without breaking down, don’t. Do so only if you can without crying.

Can you be emotional at work?  Absolutely! Women are emotional beings and I don’t advocate “acting like a man.” You can show your softer side. Just do it without the tears.


Have you ever cried at work? What happened? How  do you feel about crying at work? Let us know in the comment box below. No time to leave a comment? Please share, tweet and like this post–only if you did, of course=)