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How to Handle Crying at Work Like the Class-Act You Are

How to Handle Crying at Work Like the Class-Act You Are

Crying at work happens--and it happens to women more so than men. In a study of 700 people, Anne Kreamer, author of It’s Always Personal: Navigating Emotion in the New Workplace, revealed that 41 percent of women admitted to crying at work, while just nine percent of guys did.

It's not even necessarily that sadness causes you to cry at work, but rather feelings of “helplessness, hopelessness, and the lack of adequate behavioral responses to a problem situation,” as Ad Vingerhoets, a psychologist and leading crying researcher, writesStudies also show that women are punished for getting emotional at work more so than men, however if you do find yourself tearing up at the office, there are some things you can do. 

If you're crying because of anger or frustration towards a work-related issue, make sure you acknowledge what you're feeling and why. Joan Williams, professor at the University of California Hastings School of Law suggested to Fortune that instead, say, “When I’m crying, it’s because I’m pissed. This is what it looks like when I am really outraged.”

If you're crying in front of someone rather than, say, privately in the bathroom stall or you car park (it happens, trust us) try to keep speaking about the problem that has you upset if you can. If you can't continue without crying heavily, don't apologize, but clearly and politely ask to discontinue the subject and move onto something else. The key is not to make a big deal about the situation, but to acknowledge you're emotional and try to calmly move onto a new topic of conversation, or ask to continue discussing things later. 

If you're on the other side of the table, and you're faced with a crying colleague or employee in a professional situation, don't make a big deal of it. Instead, calmly try to move the conversation onto a new topic and give them to option to take a break and discuss at another time. 

If you haven't yet started crying, but you feel yourself getting emotional, there are some techniques you can try to regain control. Try "zooming out" of the situation to see the big picture, and put your scenario into perspective. Focusing on your breath can also help bring you to the present moment and put a halt on any tears. 

Photo: Little Drill

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