10 Confessions Of Crying At The Office

Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
It’s no secret that people — men and women — cry at work. And obviously, you don’t want to do it on the regular, but when it happens, it doesn’t mean your career is over...or that you need to spend the rest of the day hiding in the restroom. Read on to find out how 10 people handled their tears at the office.

I Followed Her Lead
My supervisor is only a few years older than I am and our office is pretty democratic. I always used to say everything was fine, even when it wasn’t. But my supervisor was a pretty emotional person and I think that always seeming stone-faced worked against me. When I was having a really tough time, I actually told her what was going on in my life...and shed a few tears in the process. She was relieved that I had problems — she said it made me seem more human — and we got on much better after that! I think mimicking the emotional cues of your superiors is pretty key. —Talia, 31

I Blamed My Parents' Dog

When I got emotional once at work, I told my boss that my parents' dog — the one I grew up with — was sick. I knew she was a dog lover and I knew that it made my tears much more relatable than “I’m crying because this job is killing me.” She actually let me go home for the day. I felt bad, but I also think it was much better than showing just how much work stress had gotten to me. —Stacy, 29

“I’m crying because this job is killing me.”

Stacy

I Fessed Up To What Was Bothering Me
I had been getting a lot of flack from a client, but I’d been keeping it to myself because I didn’t want my supervisors to think I couldn’t handle the account. One day, the client called, berating me for something that was actually their fault. As soon as I hung up, I started crying. My boss saw me, and instead of making an excuse, I explained what was going on — including the fact that the client had unleashed a barrage of four-letter words in their rant against me. She told me she wished that I’d told her earlier and actually took it upon herself to fire that client, saying that our firm wouldn’t work with people who were abusive to its employees. —Sarah, 26
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
I Sussed Out A Secret Crying Spot
I’m a lawyer, and crying is really frowned upon in my firm. I know I can be emotional, so as soon as I started there, I scouted the neighborhood for a place I could escape and cry if I needed. I found a quiet courtyard about a block away. It sounds weird, but just knowing it was there made it a lot easier to get through tough emotional moments. And the funniest thing: One time after a particularly grueling day, I went there to let it out and saw my boss there crying as well! I hurried out before she saw me, but it was a good lesson that everyone breaks down at some point. —Kelly, 34

I Turned It Into A Reason For A Happy Hour
I was having a really hard time at work one week and a few coworkers saw me crying at my desk. They asked me if I was okay, and I didn’t want to get into detail. Instead, what I did was send an email to those coworkers, thanking them for their concern and asking them to join me at the bar across the street after work. I still didn’t tell them the details of what was going on, but it definitely made me feel less alone. —Raymond, 30

I Turned On The Waterworks On Purpose
I’d been having a really stressful time in my personal life and was dealing with a particularly passive-aggressive boss. One day, I just snapped and told her off in front of everyone. The next day, I got an email from the owner of the company, asking for a meeting. Terrified I’d be fired, I made myself cry during the meeting, explaining how stressed and sorry I was, even though inwardly, I was annoyed to be groveling. It worked — I was put “on probation” and had to apologize, but I kept my job. Since then, I’ve occasionally cried on cue to get what I wanted at the office. I don’t do it often, but used sparingly, they can definitely be effective. —Lindsey, 34

I Have A “Feel Good” File
When I’m in cry mode, it can be really hard for me to calm down. One way that I've found to temper my tears so they're not so disruptive: I created a “cry file” on my desktop of feel good photos, emails, and stuff that I know makes me put things in perspective and get back on track. —Stephanie, 25

I Brought My Supervisor Starbucks
Work had been tough, and I got called into my supervisor’s office for a touch base. She was gentle, but basically, she said I hadn’t been pulling my weight...and gave me feedback on what I needed to do to improve. Of course, the tears started to flow. The next day, I got to work early (which was one of the things she’d told me to start doing; I had been rolling in late a little too often) and left her favorite coffee on her desk. I didn’t think of it as groveling or as an excuse, it was just a way to show her that today was a new day and, despite the tears, I’d taken her words to heart. —Jenna, 28

I realized if I was crying, it was pretty important to me.

Kate

I Made A List
I was passed over for a pretty major project — it was given to my coworker — and I found myself crying about it at home that night. I realized if I was crying, it was pretty important to me, so I made a list of the reasons why I wanted the project so badly. The next day, I brought the list into my boss’s office and explained how I felt. As expected, the tears flowed, but I think the fact that I could refer to the list and explain why I felt I deserved the project made it clear that the tears came from a place of passion, not resentment. —Kate, 35

I Stopped Worrying About Them
I’m a pediatric nurse, and sometimes, we see tough things. When I started, I would never cry in front of patients and their families...but then I realized I was doing all of us a disservice. Not to get morbid, but if someone dies, it is sad, and I’m not going to pretend that everything is fine and it’s business as usual. Now, if I truly do feel like I’m about to cry, I don’t hold back. Obviously, I don’t cry all the time, but when tears are warranted, I think it makes me seem human and shows how much I genuinely care. —Kelly, 32

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