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.