Is It Okay to Ever Cry at Workplace?

April 29, 20193:06 pm
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“Tear is, sometimes, seen as a healing process. There is a moment when you are angry, frustrated, stress, or sad – your eyes become teary. Then, you call all the sad moment you have and tears are flowing like a river. After a while, you reach the last stage of healing process, calming yourself down.” – HRinAsia

Crying is a natural experience that human beings have to express their feelings and emotions. Even the first thing we do when we are born in this world is crying. However, is it ever okay when the very place you want to shed your tears is at work?

According to a study from Robert Half, crying in the workplace is acceptable. Less than half employees surveyed have admitted crying at the office, while about 75 percent CFOs said crying is acceptable as long as it does not occur every day.  “We are all humans, and sometimes emotions can get the best of us,” said Michael Steinitz in the study. Moreover, there are times when individuals, including professional employees, cannot bear the melancholy of dealing with overbearing boss, combative coworkers, innocent errors at work, personal emergency, or unbearable workload.

See also: How to Switch Anger to Your Success Advantage

While shedding tears in the workplace is acceptable, does it make you look unprofessional?

Professionalism means that you can handle all the hurdles and be responsible with it even at your lowest emotion. Professionals are also commonly seen as stable person. In this case, crying could be read as an indication of unprofessionalism according to the British Psychological Society study. Although tearful individuals are often seen as warm-hearted and sensitive person, they are also seen as less competent. Within subject surveyed, tears have strongly affected how individual is perceived by others regarding warmth and competence. However, shedding tears while your co-workers or boss are around can make you look less professional and weak. Albeit it can affect both male and female, the study showed that reduction in perceived competence was stronger for male than female.

Kimberly Elsbach, a professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, as interviewed by A. Pawlowski said that crying tends to get excessive punishment because it demands so much attention. Although showing anger or frustration might result as bad as crying, tears are more emotional. “It creates this impression of need, that the person needs help. It’s almost like a baby crying – in that we are programmed as human beings to react to crying in an empathetic way,” said Elsbach. Additionally, in line with the previous study, Elsbach agreed that shedding tears around workplace are often labelled as weak, unprofessional, unqualified, or even manipulative.

“Tearful people are often treated with kid gloves by colleagues and bosses afraid to upset them or worried about their toughness.”

– Kimberly Elsbach

Read also: Does Giving Employee a Day to Disconnect “Really” Improve Productivity?