One-third of workers say crying at work is never OK, yet 45% report having done so. This is across genders. Research* buckets reasons for tearing up at work into 5 negative stimuli. I’ve cried at work for #1 and #4. 

  1. Oppressive boss      
  2. Toxic coworker
  3. Embarrassing mistake 
  4. Personal emergency 
  5. Unsustainable workload

Only once did I tear up where others could see, and it was for a positive reason.  I was meeting with a long-time colleague, reflecting on all we’d been through with a particularly rough project that year. This colleague thanked me for my support, and said “I love you.”  It wasn’t an inappropriate, creepy-crawly moment. I didn’t need to get HR on the bat phone.  It was a genuine moment of someone recognizing that we had been there for each other in meaningful ways. We’d been working together that year more than we had been with family and friends (awake anyway).  We had grown close and caring. We grew fondness for each other and developed deep trust. I was too warped to say “I love you” back because people just don’t do that at work, right?. I teared up and mouthed “thank you”

If you’re a career-driven person, think about it. Of our awake hours, we’re often prepping for work / working / thinking about work more than we are with family and friends. It should be a badge of honor to develop work relationships that are loving, that nurture deep affection. And we should let people know how much they mean to us.

Yet, I don’t yet practice what I preach.  I do sincerely love some people I work with, but I’ve never broken through the stigma barrier to tell them. It’s awkward. So, I have a goal this Valentine’s to let some work friends know how much they’ve meant to me, from the heart.

What do you think about saying “I love you” at work?

*Robert Half Research