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Business Professionals Blubbering – Is it OK to Cry?

Categories: Workplace Etiquette

Do you remember the classic Rock song “Big Girls Don’t Cry?” by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons -- or for those younger than I, the new version by Fergie a few years ago?

Lately, I think the name can be amended to be “Big Girls Don’t Cry, But It’s OK for Big Boys.”

U.S. Representative John A. Boehner (R-OH), CNN commentator Glenn Beck, and other notable men of late, have been shedding their fair share of tears over a range of topics.

With Congress back in session, Representative Boehner is second in the order of Presidential succession. One blogger had this to say about Boehner: ”I'm not averse to men crying, but men crying THAT much, THAT often, in public, and 3rd in line to the presidency -- not good, not good.”

Men crying has become such a hot topic, that feature articles have appeared in Women’s Health magazine, and the topic has been discussed on national TV talk shows and in blogs – including mine.

What really bugs me is the hypocrisy.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cried on more than one occasion. When, as Senator, she was running for the democratic nomination for President.

Pollsters at the time had a field day pointing to the fact Clinton’s tears during a campaign appearance before the New Hampshire primary helped garner further support with women, and, ultimately, the edge in that state over then Senator Obama.

So, when women cry, it’s a sign of weakness or manipulation, But, when men cry, it’s often is taken as a “healthy” sign that they’re “in touch” with their feelings and emotions.

Unfortunately, women are still held to a different standard when it comes to showing emotion in their careers – if a woman cries at work, she is seen as losing control or being weak.

If a man gets emotional with outbursts of anger, however, it’s viewed as a sign of his strength of character and passion for the issue.

My advice RE crying, that I give when coaching corporate executives – men and women -- is this: When you feel that due to frustration, anger, disappointment, sad news, or whatever the reason, tears coming on …. take a deep breath, or excuse yourself from others and take a quick break.

Crying, for the most part, makes the other person (people) uncomfortable -- and that is never a good goal to achieve in the workplace.

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