Until recently, if you asked most women if it’s okay to shed some tears at the office, the answer would be a resounding “no.” But since Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, offered her view that it’s all right to cry, an intense debate on the topic opened up in the blogosphere.
In a speech to Harvard Business School’s class of 2012, Sandberg openly admitted that she has cried at work. However, she says this in the context of promoting honest communication in the workplace and being motivated enough to get to know the people she works with.
Ignacio Sanabria, a Huffpost Super User agrees but his reasons lean towards the biological. He likens not crying when one needs to with “not going to the bathroom when needed.”
But there are those who have a different take on the matter. Esther Wojcicki, a Huffpost Blogger and teacher at Palo Alto High disagrees with Silicon Valley’s newest cazillionaire. Melanietravelwriter and Andrea in the City also feel the same way. They cite unprofessionalism and lack of emotional maturity as reasons why women should contain their emotions despite the pressures and difficulties faced in the workplace.
In her book It’s Always Personal: Emotion in the New Workplace, journalist Anne Kreamer, found that 41 percent of women cried at work compared to only 9 percent of men. While crying does not automatically spell death in a career, Kreamer’s survey found that women did not look too kindly on fellow females who showed weakness and did not “man up.” Men, on the other hand, are not equipped to handle a woman who bursts in tears in front of them since “they see their own wife, daughter, sister or mother” in the teary-eyed female colleague.
So what’s a woman to do in emotionally-charged situations when the only way to find release is to open the floodgates? The common recommendation is to take a deep breath, compose yourself, and hold it back as much as you can. When you can’t anymore, the best thing to do is excuse yourself so you can lick your own wounds, so to speak, in private. As author Jodi Glickman Brown writes: “If a dear or beloved colleague has been laid off, you’ve just received a less-than-stellar performance review, no one listened to your brilliant idea in morning meeting, or you’re just having a bad day, you’re entitled to lose it. You’re just not entitled to lose it in front of others. You’re going to have to take your cry elsewhere.”