Crying at work

I cried at work this morning.

It was a bit embarrassing, but strangely liberating at the same time.

I started crying in the car, in that way where the tears just spill out over your face without you being able to help it. By the time I got into work I had stopped, but was still in the precariously balanced state between crying and not crying, where the mere mention of kittens would be enough to push you over the edge.

I went into the kitchen to wash my cup, and to chisel off the dried up cookie residue, left over from my biscuit dunking activities the day before. I was holding it under the tap when a colleague came in. “Are you alright?” she asked.

Big mistake.

“Yes,” I squeaked, “I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, but if you ask again I might cry.”

Why does that happen? You can be holding it together, and then the minute someone shows a tiny bit of concern, you fall to pieces.

She held me really tightly while I cried and sniffled, trying to hold in the tears. “Breathe,” she told me. I hadn’t realised I wasn’t until I did as I was told and took a deep breath. Breathing felt nice.

(There’s not anything wrong by the way, in case you’re worried, I was just having a bit of a cry).

I’ve written before about emotional vulnerability, and whether or not it’s ok to cry in front of your children, but not about crying in front of other grownups, in situations where you are meant to be professional. Generally I don’t like to show weakness or ask for help, and I try to maintain an annoyingly optimistic persona whenever I can, but standing in the tiny kitchen, arms holding my shoulders tightly, I felt strangely strong. It felt like by exposing myself as vulnerable, somehow I became less so.

As I went back to my washing up, another woman I work with came into the kitchen. She saw my face, didn’t say anything, but just hugged me, and left again.

Have you ever cried at work? Do you think it had an impact on how you were seen professionally? All the research will tell you that crying at work is a Bad Thing, and will do nothing for your reputation, especially if you’re a woman, but I think we should be encouraging it. I think we should all have a little cry at work now and again. Maybe it’s good to show everyone we’re only human.

Now please pass the tissues.



  1. Nick
    8 December, 2011 / 4:56 pm

    Given state of world, family debts, lack of jobs, future or lack of it for kids, astonishing more people – men and women – are not crying … time to Occupy your hankie and then get very angry

    • 9 December, 2011 / 4:04 pm

      Very true! I wish I could say I was crying about something sensible like the state of the economy :-)

  2. 8 December, 2011 / 5:13 pm

    Nothing wrong with wearing your heart on your sleeve and showing a bit emotion. My heart is always worn there, that is the way I am. To much holding it in is no good for you at all. Got a spare tissue?!!! :-)

    • 9 December, 2011 / 4:06 pm

      Quite right – better out than in :-)

  3. 8 December, 2011 / 5:31 pm

    I think the world would be a more appreciative place, if we were able to be real more then just after our 9-5. Not that we should go over board, but we are human. I think we are a very under sensitive society, that is sad more about the state of the economy, then the state of our children’s education.

    • 9 December, 2011 / 4:06 pm

      I totally agree with what you say about us being an under sensitive society. I think there is a real thing, particularly with men and boys, that says that showing emotion is a weakness, when really isn’t it braver to be honest about your feelings sometimes?

  4. actuallymummy
    8 December, 2011 / 6:12 pm

    I never cried at work but since I had kids I cry all the time in the playground! I don’t let GG see though because it freaks her out. The Bug is more sympathetic and gives great hugs, but I suspect that is because he is only 4!

    • 9 December, 2011 / 4:07 pm

      It’s funny isn’t it how different children react in different ways? I don’t think mine like to see me cry generally, but Belle particularly is always very caring about it, and will bring me tissues and a glass of water if she so much as catches me sniffling.

  5. 8 December, 2011 / 6:38 pm

    generally I only cry with anger, and have done on one occasion when I felt dumped upon and my supervisor told me “tough” basically. only other time was when my world was falling apart, I had more bills to pay than money coming in, hubbys 26weeks of unemployment money had run out, and no matter what I did and believe me I tried and tried and tried I could not get a 2nd job, so just felt so so suicidal and when one of the girls asked me was I coming for a Christmas drink after work I just fell apart totally. But hey ho 5 years later Im still here, still skint and dont give a damm anymore – my creditors cant get blood out of a stone

    • 9 December, 2011 / 4:09 pm

      Totally with you on that one Elaine, I cry too when I get angry. It’s frustrating though because I think then people just assume you’re being upset and pathetic, when really you’re fuming! That sounds like a really awful time for you, I don’t blame you at all for having a cry under those circumstances!

  6. 8 December, 2011 / 8:06 pm

    I cried twice, in the same job, in the same week –

    once) when my client wouldn’t have a meeting with me because ‘I made him too angry’

    second time) when the marketing director – of the same client – told me not to get my ‘knickers in a twist’ in front of the entire company. I didn’t think they were in a twist… I didn’t cry in front of her. I think that would have proved her point.

    Funny looking back. I think it’s a good thing all round that I don’t do that job anymore.

    So long as it’s not too often, I don’t think crying at work is a bad thing at all.

    • 9 December, 2011 / 4:10 pm

      You ‘made him too angry’?? How?? What a bizarre thing to say!

  7. 9 December, 2011 / 12:22 am

    Yep- I’ve cried at work. It does make you feel vulnerable but everybody does it at some point! Xx

  8. jo
    9 December, 2011 / 9:26 am

    I’m welling up just reaing this x

    • 9 December, 2011 / 4:15 pm

      Clearly overcome with emotion :-)

  9. jo
    9 December, 2011 / 9:27 am

    I meant reading…sorry, I can’t see properly as my eyes are all wet!

  10. 9 December, 2011 / 4:21 pm

    I am dreadful at holding back tears – happiness, sadness, anger, frustration. I am just a very leaky-eyed person. So yes, I have cried at work. It hasn’t happened to me for a long while – mainly because I no longer work in an office ahem. But I had to turn my back to hide tears at a toddler group the other morning, the mums are all really brilliant, but I am very new to the group and didn’t want to look a plonker. I was so emotionally worn-out from the hiding and covert eye (and nose, tsk) wiping that I had to take my daughter straight home, rather than head to the park for our usual group playground jaunt. Sniff. So, really nice to read your post.

    • 10 December, 2011 / 3:01 pm

      Ah, I’m sure they would be supportive if you cried at toddler group! God, a room through of screaming toddlers is enough to drive anyone to a breakdown…

  11. 10 December, 2011 / 2:42 pm

    I’m not sure I’ve ever cried at work. Not in front of anyone atleast. As a freelance filmmaker, even if the set explodes (unintentionally), an actor loses the plot or the budget is capped and I’m seen to break down/cry/lose the ability to lead-there will be a mammoth domino effect of breakdowns and the whole crew/production could collapse. Probably. That’s not to say, I haven’t locked myself in many a toilet, wailed then wiped my eyes, brushed my hair, put a coat of lippy on and gone back on set ready for action.

    • 10 December, 2011 / 3:03 pm

      I can totally see why you have to hold it together – you’ve clearly got a lot of people relying on you to hold everything together, and when people spot weakness in the people in charge it can be unsettling, just like kids getting scared I guess by seeing their parents cry.

  12. 10 December, 2011 / 3:52 pm

    Yes totally although perhaps when you make it in a big way (Hollywood anyone?) and your name helps sell movies at the box office, then you can wail on set with ‘it’s my party’ style zest! I’ll let you know, if it ever happens!

  13. 12 December, 2011 / 12:25 am

    you go cry gal, sod the rest!

    I do know the feeling all too well, now and then I also weep, for no apparent reason, figure it’s all the stress building up and needing to be vented occassionally!

  14. Johna919
    23 June, 2014 / 2:41 pm

    I’m really enjoying the themedesign of your website. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility issues? A handful of my blog audience have complained about my site not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Firefox. Do you have any solutions to help fix this problem? kkdckgcacceb

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.