Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'll Cry If I Want to...

by In Transition Working Girl

This week has been trying and stressful; and there were several moments where I wanted to burst out crying in the office. Yes, I am going to admit it on Working Girl, I am an emotional person. There was even a point in the week when an old friend called to get an update and I just explained I couldn't talk work stuff because I was at work and I didn't want to have a break down. Let me just say this, moving and starting a new job has been beyond stressful.

This got me thinking though, how many of you have cried in the workplace? Seen a colleague cry? And how do you handle it?

Stress is my major point of weakness when it comes to wanting to burst out into tears. It may be long hours or a pending deadline that goes off track, but crying is a source of release for me. In the beginning of my Working Girl career, managing this kind of stress was so new to me that it lead to many crying sessions and more than I would care to admit. However over the last several years I have gotten better about managing this stress and have learned how awful it really is to cry in front of my colleagues and bosses. I makes me feel weak and less respected, so now I avoid it all costs.

For me, learning to manage my tears has come with time and I know there is still lots to learn when it comes to stress management. Here are several things that I do:
  • Take a short 5-10 min walk
  • Take a coffee or lunch break
  • Do something personal (check email or Facebook) to clear my mind off of work
  • Walk outside and make a phone call
  • Make a to do list to map out how I am going to get everything done
  • Take deep breaths
  • Turn on my iPod for a little bit
One thing I learned not to do unless I have a friend working with me that I trust, is to go crying to a colleague. If my tears are about to come when I am talking to someone, I quickly end the conversation and head for a private location.

Now reversing roles, what do you do if its someone else who is shedding tears? When this happens to me, my number one thought is get them out of sight of everyone else who might be able to see that they are crying. I usually suggest we get out of the office to continue to address what is going on. Then from there I make sure they know I am there for them and this session will be between us only. If its stress I try to unburden them and see what I can do to take a load from them, otherwise I just listen and try to be a good listener-and that's all.

What are some other tips and suggestions to manage your tears in the work place?

12 comments:

MonsteRawr said...

I've cried at work exactly twice. It was super duper awkward because I am the ONLY girl at my workplace, and it makes the guys super twichy.

Both times I excused myself to another room and did my best to collect myself. Both times it was pretty uncomfortable. Luckily, I work with super caring and kind guys, who did their best to make me feel better and supported me. But it's definitely something I try to avoid if at all possible.

Dan said...

I have not been witnessed crying at work although I have cried several times at work, never related to work stress but to outside events.

But I have had employees cry at work due to work issues. Sometimes all you can do is listen and supply a shoulder. In most cases they return to full productivity in hours if you just listen.

I have to say that one time I had hired a former Navy SEAL as a system admin. One day I asked him to come up with a plan to upgrade a server farm with the target of performing the upgrade 2 weeks hence. The next week I walk into his office to find him curled in a ball on the floor crying hysterically. The stress of contemplating the upgrade had induced a full on panic attach that we had to transport him to the hospital for. The next day he resigned his position "because he could not handle the stress".

That incident was one that convinced me that anyone, no matter how well tested and trained to deal with stress can snap under strains not visible to co-workers. A valuable lesson for anyone who will supervise others.

learnxtoxfly said...

I have not witnessed crying at work myself, but I have cried at least twice from the stress of work.

Thankfully I have my own office but the door to my office HAS to be left open so I just tried to turn my face so no one could see me. hahah.

I wish I could say we could go outside to get away or to take a break, etc but unfortuntately I work for such a small company that we don't get any of that. Lunch time is at the same time everyday, have to leave the office at 5pm and never can go out to just get a breath of fresh air.

I just try not to cry, and think about how tomorrow will get better.

Kate said...

I've cried at work, embarrassingly all during meetings with my boss. It is frustrating, because usually when I meet with my boss, it is because of problems that I would like to address, and these meetings stress me out, and I am trying to be professional and adult about it, and then I burst out into tears. He's always been nice about it, talking me down and not getting upset or anything, but it still makes me embarrassed and feel like a kid.

Suz said...

I've cried at work once or twice and I used to cry on the way to or from work all the time. I always go to the bathroom to cry and have never cried to a co-worker. I always call my best friend to cry to.

UKworkinggirl said...

If work is important to you it can be hard not to become emotionally invested. I have been in a challenging new role at work for six months now - in that time I have cried so many times I have lost count!

I work in a large open plan office so I usually head off somewhere private when I feel tears coming.

Taking a long walk at lunchtime helps. I think it is also important to take time off work when you are sick. There was a great post about this on WG recently. Like lots of other dedicated working girls I find it really hard to call in sick ( I've taken four sick days in the five years I've been with my employer ). Thinking about it, lots of times when I have cried have been because I've been run down and exhausted by working long hours and coming in when sick.

I'm trying to work on not being so obsessed with working hard. It's easier said than done!

joy said...

I had once busted my buns and worked tons of overtime on a project just for my boss to rip it to shreds. I was able to keep my cool in the meeting but later shed a few tears in a bathroom stall! *tear*

Crying at work can be super awkward...as we get more experienced in the workplace hopefully we'll 'toughen up'!

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L.L. said...

I flat out REFUSE to cry at work. I don't think it's professional, and it's just as bad as screaming and throwing tantrums at work. There's a great book by Kelly Cutrone titled "If you have to cry, go outside." Personally, when I'm at work, I try to be completely at work, and then deal with any other issues I'm having at home in my own time.

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Rod and Alex - aka: "Rolex" said...

I have cried a few times in the workplace. I am a very emotional woman and I put everything into my work. So when I feel like something isn't right, I get upset...and that seems to lead to crying. I've gotten better over the past few years, but from time to time I have to give myself a few moments to collect myself. I usually listen to a little Bob Marley and take deep breaths. :)

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