How to recover from a massive, ugly, work cry.

Sometimes a lady just needs to leak from her eyes for a bit, okay?

Because crying is fine. It’s normal. It’s human. It’s okay.

EXCEPT when you do it at work.  In the workplace, there’s almost an unspoken rule of Career Climbing 101: keep it together, because cry babies don’t belong in boardrooms. We’re told to succeed you must exude confidence, control and calm.

Whether you weep openly at your desk or scuttle off to the toilets to have a breakdown, you’re in good company. According to researcher Anne Kreamer, women are four times more likely to cry at work than men. There’s a few reasons; some of them biological, hormonal, and social, but the biggest difference between women and men was what happens afterwards: Women, she says, feel worse after crying at work. Like they’ve “failed feminism”, damaged their career, given their power away.

Men? They feel better.

Editor at Large of Mamamia, Jamila Rizvi, has seen “countless” women cry at work. And she says there’s one key to recovering from a big ugly work cry:

Listen to Jamila talk about it on the Mamamia podcast (post continues after audio):

That is, calm down. Recover. Take deep breaths, shake it off, put your head up, offer a quick apology towards your manager, but don’t dwell on it. It’s more important to move on.

Jamila says as a manager, she would often see crying in a positive light. It displays a level of care for your work. It’s only when it becomes repetitive that you may need to address the underlying cause.

Editor in Chief Kate de Brito says when you spot a colleague having a quiet cry, there’s a way to approach it. Gently. Ever so gently.

Women talk about reasons they’ve cried at work (post continues after video)

Jamila also says we can blame anatomy. According to Olga Khazan, health writer at The Atlantic, women produce more crying-inducing hormones, while men generate more testosterone, a hormone that inhibits crying.  And also, men have larger tear ducts – so more of their tears can well in their eyes before spilling out onto their cheeks.

The etiquette around crying at work remains complicated. A workplace is a professional environment, yes, but if displaying emotional intelligence in your work is supposedly important, shouldn’t we be able to cry?  Doesn’t an emotional reaction to your work display a degree of care? Does crying create trust between colleagues?

Mega boss lady of the Lean In philosophy, Sheryl Sandberg has done it — openly. “I’ve cried at work,” she said in a 2012 speech at Harvard Business School. “I’ve told people I’ve cried at work… I try to be myself.”

So if it’s good enough for Sheryl….

The full episode of Mamamia Out Loud is here. It’s a weekly podcast for smart women. You can download it for free via the itunes store, or get it on the Mamamia podcast app.

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