On Second Thought

I can't write this on my real blog.
APRIL 23, 2009 12:44AM

When Women Cry at Work

Rate: 9 Flag

Today marks the first time I've made an employee cry. If it had been a guy employee it would have been cooler, but of course it wasn't.

Dudes don't cry at work. Women cry at work. It's lame and it's not OK. 

If you’re sitting at your desk and randomly get a phone call that your dog was killed by a car, then it's more OK to cry at work. But when work stuff frustrates you more than you can handle in a day, you do not cry at work. Excuse yourself, leave the building, go for a walk, go for a drive, whatever. But don't let loose in the office.

It alienates you. Coworkers shy away from troubleshooting with you out of fear that you'll crack; superiors tip toe around lest you break under the pressure. And I roll my eyes, time the next two hours while you calm down, then send a non-confrontational e-mail validating your feelings and extending a white flag should you feel the need to further vent.

Now you've just wasted everyone's time while the gossip line flows on and on about how upset you were and why; and those implicated in making you so upset bear the unfair brunt of office scorn for a situation in which they know nothing about.

Perhaps I'm too hard on women who shed tears in the workplace, but I've spent my entire career in a man-centric profession trying to prove that my skin is tough enough to be taken seriously. You lose your respect when you cry at work. Gaining respect at work is more important and more difficult to achieve than any other task I can think of. This sounds cynical. But it's true. Having emotion is fine, showing it (in most cases) is not.

Major acquisitions, integrations and changes are going on in the office. Many of these changes are in direct response to the burdens this woman has borne at the expense of other's incompetencies. I know this. So in one moment of acknowledging her burden, I said, You have this huge weight on your shoulders that I see you carry every time this happens. That's why I'm here; I'm trying to take this weight off you so you can do your work in peace.

That was it. Her eyes rimmed red and her lips pursed. The tears just started coming.

Crap. So now the scene is: Everyone sees you and I having a serious discussion and the next thing they see is you bawling. Then you turn from me fiercely and leave the room tears flowing down your face. Not a word. No one knows you aren’t mad at me.

Now I'm left with a faint stain on my reputation that I make employees cry. If I had made a man cry it would have fit in nicely with my office nicknames: the Nazi, the steamroller, the sheriff.

But I made a woman cry. Now I'm just the bitch.

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My boss made me cry at work. I was a SFC in the Army at the time and it is one of the things I am most ashamed about doing. ( I couldn't help it).
PS He was really an asshole.
I am in complete agreement with all of this. It is unprofessional, esp. in the situation you described.
Caveats to exclude the evil bosses who go after people and even then crying is not cool cause it gives the evil bosses an edge over you.
Oh dear...I'm afraid I would have been the chick sitting in your office crying. I spontaneously burst into tears when happy, sad, angry or just over-tired.
Okay, you are a bitch. People cry. Shit happens. Get over it.
717judie: It happens to the best of us and there's no excuse for bosses to be assholes.

Ariana: Thanks for your thoughts.

javajane: I can appreciate your kind of personality. I have another employee just like you. Crying comes easy to her, but it's rarely about work (which makes it more OK). She's been in her position less than six months and she's used my office many times to settle herself down. Bless her heart.

AshKW: It's not the first time I've been called one. Thanks for your opinion ... I think.
My boss gets emotional and cries a lot. I hate that. It makes me suspect manipulation.
I often cry, even at work. I can't help it. It just happens and trying to fight it just makes it worse. Nothing I can do about it.
The first time I cried at work I was eighteen. I had been working six days a week (no overtime) for about eight months, giving my paycheck to my dad to help pay rent. My parents were in the middle of a divorce. I had been yelled at, argued with, and treated like an idiot by customers every single day. Then my boyfriend broke up with me. I lost it when the customer yelled at me. I left my post at the register, but couldn't stop crying. I certainly didn't want to cry. I just couldn't hold it in anymore.

I'm not ashamed of that.

Women shouldn't try to act like men to be respected at work. Women should just try to be the best employee they can be while being respectful of themselves. That's it.
This is hysterical. When I was in the working world, I was very feminine, but very professional (it's possible!). Crying in the office never would have even dawned on me! And I'm laughing that now you've earned a new reputation...but don't worry, I'm sure people will recognize it's her character flaw and not yours. Rated for hilarity and truth!
you need to see the movie "Courage Under Fire" before you make an absolute decision about this. that film addresses like no other film or book I've seen the way sometimes women cry because of "tension" and not because they are looking for sympathy or anything like that. It doesn't have to mean anything. I hate the idea that to be in the workplace we must wear concrete masks over all things human...
I've been in that situation recently. Criticism is a personal vendetta, suddenly, and the waterworks start.

What really irritates me about people who cry in the office is that it just makes every conversation after that difficult. You start trying to figure out the nicest way to say, "you need to work on this.." when sometimes a more direct approach would be more productive.
Gwendolyn: Thanks for reading and commenting. Your situation seems like it would have been a perfectly good reason to cry at work. Customer service is a difficult industry to work in.

Outside: Thanks for stopping by and thanks for relating with a light heart.

Dolores: I couldn't agree with you more that using to tears to relieve tension is common among many women. I certainly don't expect my colleagues to wear concrete masks. This situation I rant about in this post was unfortunate for all; but in the end it has all been forgotten. Thanks for taking time to comment.

Bethany: I appreciate the empathy. It's nice to know it happens to the best of us managers!
I am the boss of me. Sometimes I make myself cry. It's purging, cleansing, somehow. I work at home when I am not out making calls. It's been a long time since anyone work related has brought on tears. A long time ago and some painfull memories, though few.
Sucks that anyone has the power of you to make you cry, whether at work or elsewhere. We should be in charge of our own tears, not the bastards who would make us feel smaller than we are. That just makes them bigger ass holes. Yet crying is essential and keeps our emotions in balance. To not cry is unhealthy, I believe. I am one of those who crys easily, however, it is more for the things that touch my emotions deeply or just pure joy that brings them on the most.
Great topic for discussion.
Jesus H, Christ, I'm late to this one! Just figured that out. Must be past my bedtime!
Kleenex is included in every office supply catalog