By Paula Traver
Is it OK to Cry at Work?
Is it ok to cry at work? Why aren’t we asking “Is it ok to throw a stapler “or “Is it ok to overturn the water cooler”? I do not think that crying or any emotional outbursts at work concerning work is acceptable. The strategic use and display of emotions at work is a form of manipulation by management and employees. In order to maintain control, respect and confidence in the workplace our emotions need to be checked at the door.
Explanation of Reluctance to Address Emotion in a Workplace.
Our hesitancy to address emotion in the workplace can be explained by William H. Whyte’s book The Organization Man which was published in 1956. Whyte depicted successful business people as being reasonable, analytical, and cogent decision makers. Emotions were regarded as unwanted influences which kept us from being objective. They needed to be controlled or the negative influences channeled in another direction. Emotional displays in the workplace showed feebleness and unpredictability (Muchinsky, 2000). Mumbly and Putnum more recently has offered explanation in terms of emotional dimension and suggested that organizational behavior is better characterized as “bounded emotionality, “ instead of “bounded rationality” (2012). Decision makers have to work under three constraints;
(1) limited and unreliable information is regarded concerning possible alternatives and their consequences, (2) the human mind has only a limited capacity to evaluate and process the available information, and (3) only a limited amount of time is available to make a decision. It follows that individuals who make rational choices are most likely to make satisfying choices in complex situations (Web Finance, Inc., 2014).
Philadelphia’s John Eric, founder of Jacobson Business Programs, Inc., advises readers that
“if you let an employee have their way or break normal company culture because they have cried, you’re teaching them that tears are the road to your decision-making. You have shown them which buttons to push when they need to manipulate you” (Rubin, 1996). The saying used to be “Never let them see you sweat” (Belkin, 2001). This is now changed to
“Do anything you can to keep from crying at work” says Marjorie Brady, a career consultant
(Belkin, 2001). When you have a meltdown at work, you make people uncomfortable. Their perception of you being a leader and making good judgments is compromised. A barrier is crossed that the other people cannot deal with. They are not trained to comfort you since it is not a part of their job description (Glickman, 2011). I can personally relate to her commentary. I was employed at Memorial Hospital in Respiratory Care. A therapist was working in the
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She had a crying fit in the Neonatal Unit with all the nurses, techs looking on. She also found it necessary to have our supervisor come to the unit. I did not discuss it with anyone but I felt it was a blatant display of unprofessionalism. I would not trust her if my child were ill. Critical decisions cannot be correctly made if the ones making them are not in control of their emotions. Sometimes it is necessary for healthcare workers and other helping professions to keep their emotions contained. Duster, one of the funeral directors from Duster Funeral Home states that “We as funeral directors have a great deal of empathy…and we feel their loss but when we’re working with grieving people, we need to be the strong ones … but we can’t be bawling like little kids” (Gormly, 2007). The consequences are greater for women who cry at work since we still are outnumbered by men in the office and are faced with the same double standard. Sara Schoonover, vice-president of TicketKick, a website that helps motorists contest their traffic tickets. They want to know that they can trust us to deal