As a woman in business, it’s tough (and before I spark a mutiny, I’ll just say that I know it’s tough for men too, and I appreciate that), however, as women, we face a unique set of challenges, one of which is emotions which are hard to control and not currently socially acceptable in the workplace.
The specific challenge I’d like to talk about today is crying. For both biological and social reasons*, women are more likely to cry than men, and I am one of those women.
As a twenty-seven year old, I am still relatively early on in my career, however, I’ve already faced the joy of crying in front of several key people including the CEO, CMO, COO and Founders of the company I used to work for, my new manager (within one week of meeting her), my teammates… the list goes on. That’s just five years worth of work! How much more damage am I going to do over the next forty years?
Jokes aside, I’ve read several articles online about crying at work: how to manage it, how to control it, what to do after the event. These are all incredibly useful and important articles to be written, but I wanted to make one thing clear to all women (& men) because I don’t think it’s clear enough right now.
It is okay to cry at work.
If my short experience has taught me anything, it’s that crying at work is not as big a deal as it seems in the moment. Yes, it’s stressful and embarrassing but it can happen from time to time (particularly if you’re like me and more susceptible to leaky tear ducts), and it will not affect your career growth or success in any way, provided you don’t let it.
I recently read a book called The Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters which I highly recommend to anyone who is interested. In this book, Prof Steve Peters discusses the role of the chimp in our brains (essentially all of our emotions and feelings). The key takeaway which I took from this book is that we can’t control any of our emotions or feelings, all we can do is provide them the space to release and manage that process. Most importantly, we have to accept them for what they are and not beat ourselves up for reactions which are normal and part of being a human. Crying is one such example of this.
As I continue in my career, I’m sure there will be a lot more tears. I’m still learning to accept this -it’s definitely a process! However, I will continue to remind myself and others, that crying is normal and absolutely okay.
Wishing you acceptance, wherever you are in your journey.