Spoiler Alert…rant ahead
I don’t get it. As employers, we ask our employees to bring 100% of themselves to work… be who you are… yet it is okay to have a stress cry at home, but it is not okay to cry at work.
Why is it okay for a person to get stressed at work, lose their cool and start ranting, raving, swearing and maybe even picking up something and throwing it at the wall? Have you ever heard this behaviour excused as “just blowing off steam”? At the same time, why is it not okay (and makes some leaders feel uncomfortable) if a man or woman who is just as stressed, breaks down and cries?
Why is it that some leaders (mostly male) get very uncomfortable when faced with the prospect of a woman (or a man) who is on the verge of tears to the extent that they say: “You aren’t going to cry, are you?”? If you are a leader and you have a problem with someone crying at work, you have the problem, not the employee. And you better figure out how you are going to fix your problem. As a leader, shouldn’t we be asking what we or our company did to cause this human being to be having a significant emotional response to their current situation. As a leader, why are we worrying about being out of our own comfort zone?
And why do many women feel they need to apologize for crying after they regain their composure? Stop it please! There is no reason to apologize as if you did something wrong.
A close friend of mine who is a female CEO says that she believes women, collectively, have a self-confidence issue (her words, not mine). If so, I can’t believe feeling like you must apologize for crying, as if it was some flaw in your being, can be helpful to solving self-confidence issues so please, stop apologizing.
As leaders, if we want to create inclusive, diverse and safe workspaces, we need to get better at dealing with emotions and being vulnerable. As little boys, we (I) were taught not to cry, because “big boys don’t cry”. I must have failed that module in kindergarten because I cry. In fact, it doesn’t take much to make my eyes start watering, not from stress, but from other emotional triggers. As leaders, we need to be a real and genuine as we are asking our employees to be, and we need to get better at handling it when they do.
…end of rant.