Crying at work is one of my biggest fears, not necessarily because of the acute mortification of doing so.
There's nothing wrong with crying per se. I don't find it objectively embarrassing, but I do find allowing the warm, salty waters of my emotion to leak through the cracks in my façade (especially my professional façade) to be kind of humiliating. Plus, I never want to make anyone feel like I'm trying to manipulate them — something that cryers, especially women who portray emotion, are often accused of doing.
The difficulty is that there are often differences to how people's tears are greeted at work. Sure, there was some jovial ribbing of former Speaker of the House John Boehner, whose emotional bouts were well-chronicled. But women are often seen as turning on the waterworks just to get what they want, making crying a potentially job-derailing faux pas.
As explained in a 2015 article in Harvard Business Review, there are a number of reasons people might cry at work. But it's notable that there is some nuance to this: Last year, Olga Khazan at The Atlantic did a deep dive into crying at work that examined responses to tears by gender. In one study, male criers were viewed more positively than any other group. Bloomberg reporter Rebecca Greenfield recently wrote about a study which suggested that reframing crying on the job as being "passionate" about one's work, rather than "emotional," can be beneficial.
Whether it's a matter of feeling embarrassed or feeling judged, crying at work is a reasonable thing to fear. Luckily for Boon Cotter, a lighting artist based in California, crying during his job interview actually paid off.
As Mashable writer Gianluca Mezzofiore explains, Cotter's experience interviewing for a job at the renowned video game development company Naughty Dog is pretty heartwarming. Cotter chronicled the meeting on Twitter, explaining that he "had just flown halfway around the world, my first time out of Australia, to interview for a job I KNEW I wouldn't get" — and that things started terribly.
For example, when asked about his work as a "lead artist" on a previous project, Cotter admitted that he was actually the only artist on that project. (Résumé embellishments — we've all been there, right?)
But after Bruce Straley, a director and designer at Naughty Dog (whom Cotter massively admires), asked Cotter why he wants to work for the company, the tone of the interview changed.
Cotter told his interviewers that seeing their character Bill in the game The Last of Us was deeply moving for him, personally and professionally.
"Fast forward to 3 hours later and I was shitface drunk on margaritas and hired to work at my favorite company on Earth," Cotter concluded. "Moral to the story: Don't underestimate authenticity. Be raw, be vulnerable, be real. That's where your uniqueness shines."
As Mezzofiore writes, Cotter's tale is a great one for people who "love an incredibly moving story about LGBTQ representation in video games," but also for people who might fear being themselves at work — tears included.