Confession: I cry. A lot. Every time I get sad, happy, stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, angry or see that Folger’s commercial with the daughter who just got engaged, my eyes instantly well up.
But when it comes to work, I pride myself in my ability to keep my composure. I have cried exactly 4 times at the office in my career thus far. (Outside the office? That’s a whole different story.) The first time was personal. The second time was over a highly stressful miscommunication, and despite my stress, I managed to let only a couple tears slip out. The third time was when I gave my two weeks notice at my last job. I didn’t even have my words out before I burst into tears in front of my boss, leaving him really uncomfortable and totally freaked out.
Unfortunately, none of those compared to the fourth time. It took place only a few short weeks ago, just as I was reaching the limit of my stress threshold after months of frustration and anxiety over fitting in at my new company. So when my boss asked me to meet with her, I knew I was hovering at the peak of my emotional rollercoaster, only one tiny push away from plummeting over the edge. When she admitted that a bunch of my coworkers had commented on my stress level, I felt the tears well up. As she went on to explain that it was time I started managing my stress better, I burst into tears. But not pretty little graceful tears. It was like Niagara Falls had temporarily relocated to my face. What was worse, I couldn’t catch my breath so I sounded like I was hyperventilating. It was mortifying, and the more embarrassed I got, the more I struggled to breathe.
After a few minutes, I pulled myself together, collected myself in the bathroom, and vowed to never let it happen again. My boss was totally cool about it and felt so bad that she stressed me out even more. But it turns out the breakdown was exactly what I needed. Now that I’m over the emotional part, I’ve been much more focused and organized. And even better, I feel way more comfortable with my boss and coworkers now.
So naturally, after my mini breakdown, I just had to Google the whole crying-at-work topic to make sure I wasn’t the only one to ever well up at work. Thankfully, I’m not. Look what I found…
True Stories of Crying at Work
Check out this great Marie Claire article to commiserate with other Working Girls who’ve fallen victim to emotion. Don’t worry—tears can have a bright side!
The Dos and Don’ts of Crying at Work
Forbes created a straightforward little slideshow about the best way to tackle tears at the office. Remember: Just breathe.
And just to add my two cents, if you notice a coworker who looks like she’s upset, don’t ask her if she’s okay. When I’m upset about something, that question is like the nail in my composure coffin. It’s okay to express concern, but there’s something about asking if I’m okay that sets me off all over again. Or maybe that’s just me…
On a personal note, thanks for all the well wishes and advice and everything! We are both so excited!