Tuesday, April 20, 2010

There's no crying in copywriting!

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!

18 comments:

lisa said...

Oy, I'm a bad one for crying at work. Usually the best thing for me is to sit at my desk quietly and try to concentrate on work.

Lindsey Marie said...

It's such a coincidence that I'm reading this post now, after I just walked into work on the verge of tears. The first thing my co-worker did was ask me if I'm okay, and I just about lost it. I know exactly what you mean by that, it happens to me every single time.

Corporate Chickee said...

I personally like to go to the bathroom and cry at work - when I need to. Or cry in my car on the way home from work. Luckily - I haven't really cried at work for a work-related issue in a while. (I just get mad now instead of emotional, ha!)

There's an upside to a good cry though, it's like you got it out of our system! Hang in there!!

Just Jay said...

I work in a very small department, so my coworkers and I are close. However, I get the feeling from one coworker that when she's asking "Are you ok?" it's in that tone of "Tell me something bad about you so that I can feel better about me." But when she's upset and we ask her, she's tight lipped in that dramatic "I'm going to hold it to myself" kind of way. I've started doing that because quite frankly she doesn't help me at all, in fact she makes me feel worse.

Lisa - Fine Sweet Life said...

I have an unspoken work rule.....If my door is shut, don't come in! It is either a highly private convo I am having on the phone, or I am upset!!!

Domesticated-Bliss said...

I'm like you, I'm just a sensitive, compassionate, volatile person :) It doesn't take much to set me off upon a tearfest, but I've learned a few techniques to keep from losing it in any situation.

1. Remember, it's probably not personal.
2. Deep breaths and drink some water to cool yourself down.
3. Walk away from all possible concerned parties and cheerer uppers. They mean well but they'll make you worse!
4. Keep chanting to yourself: I'm a grown up, I'm a grown up. I don't want to cry at work!

Tends to work for me!

Christy said...

Oh I've definitely shed a few tears at work...this morning, in fact! But then, while reading someone else's blog, I got the idea to write down 5 things that make me happy right now and I feel much better!

Oh and what is with this Folger's commercial? I think I'm the only person who hasn't seen it and I can't find it on YouTube!

Marcie said...

I used to walk the halls of my old job with a smile, shut the door, and let the waterworks begin!

Sun Soak said...

i cried at work last week which is the first time i've ever cried at work. and that was because i had a sudden wave of home sickness. a few short tears and i was back to normal.

but i agree with you. if i'm upset and someone asks me if i'm ok (and i'm on the verge of crying), the question will send me straight into the water works.

glad to hear that things are going better at work. cheers!

Lisa said...

Unfortunately, I'm a very big crybaby too! There's been times when I've been SO CLOSE to letting out a few tears and I try to think of something else to get my mind off it. I've only actually cried at work 4 times, but I cry as soon as I get in the car to drive home almost every other day! Stress just makes you crazy!

knitfreak-to-be said...

I must confess, I did cried at work, twice, the first one was a great turning point, as I knew that I turned to the better me.

Second one was bad, it just cause me to loose faith in this department,particularly one person, SHE backstabbed me and now I could not really work properly with that department, still having some sour grape when dealing with them, its like cancer and it did not go away.

Perhaps I need another cry to counter that?

by the way, I love it when male bosses freaks out when a girl cried, the look on their faces is priceless ;)

Lose That Girl said...

Crying at work shows that you're human. It's great to be all stiff upper lip, but sometimes that lip does tremble and tears will flow. In my opinion, it's nothing to be concerned about especially if it only happens once in a blue moon.

LaNeshe said...

Well at least the break down could give you a fresh start to get things together in order to manage stress in the future!

Luna said...

i know how you feel. sometimes i go to the bathroom and cry at work as well. things can just be overwhelming and you cant help it. i wish you luck and managing that stress. i need to do the same.

MonsteRawr said...

As the only woman in my workplace, I have to work extra hard to keep my tears in check, since a crying woman tends to freak the guys out. Luckily, there's a private bathroom in the office that my boss and I share, which is perfect for getting my tears under control without embarrassing myself.

Ali said...
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Ali said...

A boss of mine once publicly yelled at me in front of an entire office. I was so upset that I literally spent the entire day crying hysterically in a vacated office. The best part came when the following day, my boss acted as if it never happened... which just made me want to cry even more!

Marketing Gurl said...

From a fellow crier I love this post...I got the baby blues big time after the little man was born and my poor boss...I cried alot...I love this post! - MG