The Big Debate: Is It Ever Okay To Cry At Work?

Team STELLAR goes head-to-head on the issues.

Saying yes is STELLAR contributor Megan Roantree

Work can be an incredibly stressful environment and no matter how much you love your job, there will always be the (hopefully) occasional crappy day. You may have learned by now that bottling up tears simply doesn’t work, and instead, one of two things happen. You’ll either erupt into a much worse state of blubbering, or you’ll bury it deep and let it build up inside, which isn’t great for your mental health.

While it’s not exactly professional to get upset at work, we are all only human and sometimes emotions do get the better of us. It can be a wake up call to deal with some deeper issue that is important to you, or it can simply just be the only effective response to an overwhelming situation.

We spend a huge percentage of our week in work, so if you happen to hear bad news, or are having a tough day outside of the job, it’s more than understandable that you let those emotions slip out. If you have a healthy work environment and caring co-workers you will never be judged for getting upset.

And if it is work-related, perhaps it’s not the worst thing in the world for your colleagues, or even your boss to know that you are unhappy, and it may lead to a solution you would never have come to had you kept quiet. I am by no means recommending that you have a cry any time it gets a bit busy, I am however saying that it is not the end of the world if you end up in tears.

Crying can be a good way to get all your emotions out in one go, rather than expressing your upset in other ways, e.g being angry, rude or lacking concentration – all of which are far more unprofessional in my opinion. The most important thing to remember is that if it happens to you, be aware that it has happened to most people. In this day and age emotion and passion are admired so caring is certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

In the no corner is Editor Vicki Notaro

I am an emotional person. I wept my way through Queer Eye, I ugly cry at ads on TV about sad dogs, and I occasionally tear up thinking about an old woman I saw in Lidl once who was just so cute. However, when it comes to work, I don’t think it does anyone any favours to be known as the Office Crier. Not only is it not a good look (snot), it’s also mortifying, and you never want your colleagues or worse, your boss, to see you in the depths of it all.

Early on in my career, I read a book that taught me a lot about work and the title says it all – If You Have To Cry, Go Outside. By former The Hills star and PR guru Kelly Cutrone, the book wasn’t advocating bottling everything up until you burst; rather that if your emotion gets the better of you, excuse yourself and have a good ol’ whinge in private.

Sometimes tears are unavoidable – and getting upset somewhere you shouldn’t only makes things worse. But just get out of there! It doesn’t matter if everyone knows you’ve been bawling afterwards, but it does matter that the whole place doesn’t come to an awkward standstill while your colleagues watch your shoulders heave. It’s not good for morale, and it’s not good for how you’re perceived. Not because you’re a woman – It’s nothing to do with feminine weakness or hysteria (we have enough shit to deal with just being women) but because of professionalism. I’m not trying to be callous – if there’s genuinely something wrong, everyone would understand. But causing a scene over a passive aggressive email ain’t okay.

I managed to hold it together through being told a beloved magazine I worked on was no more. I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse, but I kept my shit in check until I could have a sob by myself. And I’m glad, because in the face of being humiliated, I felt stoic and dignified. Believe me, if I can handle such a scenario, anyone can.


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