There's No Crying in the Office
A few months back, I was having a conversation with a friend who works in the non-profit sector. She shared that her female boss not only allowed crying during meetings, she actually encouraged it. I nearly spit out my drink when I heard this story, as this was the most ludicrous behavior I have ever heard.
There is a time and place for crying and more often than not, the corporate environment is not the place.
That is not to say I have not cried at work. I am a human after all and have emotions that can at times be overwhelming; however, when I feel those moments bubble to the surface, I immediately excuse myself, find the nearest bathroom stall and cry like a baby. In my mind, this is the only acceptable way to cry at work.
The topic of crying and work came front and center recently when actress Maggie Gyllenhaal confessed to "having a little cry" when she faced the reality of her role in 'The Honourable Woman.'
Believe me, I understand the desire to cry when a moment is intense or a personal event happens in your life. I spent time in the bathroom stall when I found out I was miscarrying my first baby. Then there was the time I made a mistake that nearly cost a client millions of dollars and their job. Or when I got into a disagreement with my boss and I didn't want him to see me cry.
However, when the tears start to fall in a group setting, it causes a distraction that is not good for anyone.
My opinion may come from the fact that I have spent 14 years working in finance, and any sign of weakness is unacceptable. However, I think the practice of NOT crying in a group setting is one that should be practiced in every work environment.
If we are working for a company, we are paid to perform our duties to the best of our ability and depending on our job descriptions, we help clients, support internal teammates or find new ways for the company to grow and make money so we can continue to play a part on the team. What we are not compensated for is creating distractions that lead to decreased productivity in these areas.
Some may read this and think I am being harsh.
However, I feel as employees of a firm, we have numerous responsibilities to our paycheck provider, and we need to create an environment that is conducive to achieving these responsibilities.
When someone starts crying in the office outside of the confines of the bathroom, some people will want to help, which will distract them from working, and some people will want to judge and gossip which will also distract them from working. Not to mention the follow up conversations that will persist for weeks after the event.
Aside from distracting co-workers from being productive, I do not know many people who will value and appreciate a crying leader or co-worker. Yes, I want a boss to be compassionate and sympathetic, I don't want to see them in a weak moment, and crying in public shows weakness to me.
I also want to see my co-workers at their best so I know I can rely on them.
For better or worse, tears in the office make me question their abilities, and if I am a woman saying this, you can imagine what the guys say about the public crying.
Most crying fests come from a personal place, so we should indulge them on our personal time, and not disturb our co-workers.
Every time I have indulged in a cry fest, I typically follow it up with an organized happy hour after work to vent my issues thoroughly with the right group of people and in the right environment.
This is the appropriate time and place for crying, surrounded by your friends with a cocktail in hand. However, if you have great friends like me, you are probably moving on to laughing it off and letting go of what's bothering you.