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Is crying OK in the PR workplace?




It’s a powerful thing. And, if often gets the best of the best of us. At home. On the playing field. And sometimes, at work.

But, is breaking down and shedding a tear acceptable in the PR workplace?

You’ll get arguments both ways.

In an industry dominated by women, we probably see more tears than say, the construction industry. But, is it acceptable in the PR workplace? Here’s where I stand:

Emotion is a part of life

Jim Valvano said it best in one of my favorite videos of all time: “If you laugh, think and cry in one day. That’s a heck of a day.” Crying is a part of life–it’s a big part of life. So, why would we want to remove it from the workplace? Now, I will say, there’s a time and place for it. Should tears be shed if/when things don’t go your way work-wise? Probably not. But, in other situations, I just don’t think we should shun people who shed a tear if/when the situation calls.

Keep your feelings to yourself

As much as I believe emotion is a part of life and you cannot remove that from 8-10 hours of your day, I do think you should do whatever you can to keep it private, when possible. Missed out on that big promotion and need to just let it out? Find a conference room with no windows and have it out. There are going to be situations where you simply can’t avoid this, but for the most part, try to keep it under wraps. And, don’t let crying become a habit at work. Shedding a tear every once in a while under extreme pressure it to be expected. Crying at the drop of the hat when things go south? That’s a different story.

Emotion isn’t rewarded in the workplace

Let’s face it. In our culture, emotion and crying are seen as signs of weakness in the workplace. So, you could make a fairly strong argument that crying at work is a “career-limiting” behavior. Think about it. Executives want PR professionals they can count on in their most trying times–and they need those counselors to be strong and confident. Crying just doesn’t inspire that kind of confidence–no matter what we think of feel. So, despite my first point above, which is more idealistic in nature, this is the harsh reality.

Now, keep in mind, these opinions are coming from a pretty stoic guy. I’ve probably cried about 5 times in my entire life. And, I come from a long line of non-crying Norweigans (I’ve only seen my parents cry once each–ever). But, I’m curious about your thoughts. Surely you’ve witnessed someone crying in the workplace–what do you think? Acceptable? Or, should crying be kept behind closed doors at home?

Photo courtesy of memekode via FlickR Creative Commons.



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