What to Do If You Need to Cry at Work + Why You Shouldn’t Feel Bad About It
If you’re a human being, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve cried at work at some point. It’s natural and normal to need to let intense emotions out, and sometimes that inconveniently happens at the office. Ugh. Whether it’s because you’re burned out, you’ve realized you’re definitely in the wrong job or something is just weighing on you, there are times when you just can’t suppress your emotions, and you shouldn’t have to! But not only can it be uncomfortable to get super upset at work — it can be embarrassing if it happens in a public way, like in a meeting or at your highly visible desk (gotta love those open-floor-plan offices, right?). So where can you go and what can you do if you feel the tears coming on? We tapped some HR pros and career experts to get their take on this tough sitch. Here are some guidelines to follow if you just need to let it out during your nine-to-five.
Do it in private.Laura Macleod, HR expert. The office of a coworker you trust is also a safe place to go, as long as they’re okay with it. “If possible, try to get outside the office,” she adds. Heading to your office’s lobby or even outside for some fresh air can work wonders.
There’sreason to apologize. “People are allowed to have emotions and no one should apologize for that,” says Michelle Petrazzuolo, human resources consultant at Petrazzuolo HR. “Apologizing makes it seem like your reaction was wrong or inappropriate, and it may not have been.” There are all kinds of reasons you could cry at work and, you know what? Some of them are 100 percent justified.
4. Sometimes, crying is a reasonable reaction. While breaking down at work is definitely never ideal (being sad or super stressed is the worst!), there are times when it’s not really that out of place. Petrazzuolo explains that “certain situations push most people to their emotional limits, such as being laid off or receiving difficult news about a coworker. During these times, it’s not only acceptable to show your emotions, but sharing them with others can help everyone work through their reactions.” Since you spend so much time with your coworkers, they can be a great support — especially if there’s a situation where many of you are going through something similar.
5. You can offer a helping hand to a teary colleague. If you see that someone else in your office is struggling, it’s absolutely okay to reach out to them. Just know that they may want to be left alone. “The best way you can help is by offering to escort them to a more private area,” says Laura Henderson, HR consultant and owner of North County HR. By taking your coworker outside or to a private room, you help them to avoid causing a scene and give them a moment to regroup before returning to work.”
6. Know that crying isn’t a “feminine issue.” Just a friendly reminder that guys have feelings too. “Crying is generally frowned upon and a sign of weakness, especially for men,” notes Macleod. “This isn’t accurate. Crying is a normal human release and often those who cry feel significantly better and more positive once they’ve finished.” That includes dudes, everyone.