The Crying Game: Can Tears Help Your Career?

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Incoming Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner has made it almost his trademark to break into tears. He was last seen doing the water works on '60 Minutes' last Sunday.

Time will tell if the crying game will help Boehner's career.

Years ago, tears were a career killer. It was claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Edmund Muskie cried on March 4, 1972. Muskie denied that, contending his voice cracked with anger. But he was finished.

Also, traditionalists hammered that no way should a woman cry in the workplace. Many still do.

Crying can be an effective professional move, however -- if done by the right person, in the right situation, and at the right time. Recently, when Oprah Winfrey cried during the interview with Barbara Walters it enhanced her brandname. This could help her transition to Discovery. In fact, the tears could be so useful that some argue Oprah faked them.

Often, confidentially, career coaches will advise both women and men to cry during a disciplinary hearing at work. That gesture signals the degree of upset the powers-that-be are usually pleased to see. Yes, they want to see you suffer. Also, tears could be jarring enough for them to limit the amount of punishment doled out.

Sometimes tears are also recommended to display appropriate thanks for a professional favor done us, as when the company puts us up for an award and we win.

The best way to assess the pros and cons of the crying game is to observe how others play it. Deconstruct their tactics and then the payoffs and the penalties. Proceed with caution.

Next:I Cried in Front of My Boss -- How Do I Recover?

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