According to a recent report that surveyed 1,200 full-time employees, 48% have cried at work.
I cry rather easily. I can get teary when I am moved at church. I have to be careful when I present on human trafficking, because I am so passionate about that cause. I cry at movies. I cry talking about my wife and children.
And, I cry when I am very upset, which could be mad, sad, or a combination.
I’ve cried at work, but I think it has been a very long time. I actually cried one fall Saturday in 1993 when I was a car salesman. A customer had been viciously nasty to me—far beyond the bounds of the usual rough-and-tumble on a car lot—and I had to excuse myself. The business manager let me have a minute, then came and got me, because we were slammed. The very next thing I did was sold a beautiful new white Acura Vigor GS to a delightful couple.
(That jackass customer is probably dead by now—he wasn’t young then—but I’ve never forgotten his name or what he looks like.)
I cried more than once driving home from Athens in 1998 and 1999. My immediate supervisor was a miserable misandrist, and the ongoing situation was just too much for me to handle effectively. I tried to get it out on the way home so I wouldn’t be taking any of it to Lea. That didn’t always work.
Crying still carries stigmas, though perhaps we’ve made some progress. My mother and father never taught me to hold it in because only wimps cry, or any other such nonsense. Tears are “raindrops from your eyes, washing all the mad out of you.”
I can’t swear that it hasn’t happened, but I can’t remember crying at work any more recently than that. I can remember my periods of greatest stress both in my current position and at my previous one, and though I can remember a lot of their respective mechanics, I don’t recall any associated tears.
I think that in general, it’s probably still a bigger deal professionally than it ought to be. Whether a person excuses himself/herself with tears or without shouldn’t make any difference. It’s a natural, emotional response for which we are hard-wired. We should treat it as such.