There’s an expectation that you check your feelings at the door. “Hey, this is the workplace!” It’s not that men don’t cry, but women are more likely to cry when you hurt their feelings in the workplace, and I think it’s really hard to cry in the presence of a man. If you must cry, ask a woman friend to meet you in the restroom and cry with a woman.

Once again, women are set up to be disappointed by each other in the context of the masculine workplace if they expect empathy and emotional engagement from each other, and some women are trying to play by the rules of the masculine workplace to get promoted. Many women in this study, as well as in my consulting and coaching work, have told me how important it is that they not cry at work. Why? Because they will be seen as weak? They will make men uncomfortable? Tears mean you are irrational and out of control? You can’t be a leader and cry? These reasons have never made sense to me. Expressing a full range of emotions is part of effective communication and authentic leadership. When women (and men) have to choke off emotion, such as those expressed by tears, they are choking off their ability to fully and authentically express themselves and are suppressing their voice. We will all benefit from working together to change this norm. An excerpt from my book, New Rules for Women, available at Amazon (]]>

1 thought on “Self-Disclose”

  1. While I agree that we will all benefit when we change this norm, I really hesitate to even silently hope that women will make that change happen. Currently men who express *some* emotions (beyond anger) can get lots of extra love in certain settings. Tearing up is heartwarming and endearing when a man does it. When a woman does it, it is seen as unprofessional.
    In my younger days I would tear up or even cry when I felt anger or frustration at work. I had to learn very quickly to manage that, at the risk of losing credibility.
    One way I have attempted to “change this norm” is to express emotions that I feel, that are not difficult for people (men?) to tolerate at work. I can tell people how hard it is to have my youngest child leave for college – that is something many people can relate to. But if I cried about it at work? It feels over the line.
    So, there is room to move the ball forward, but it is not unlimited!
    Thanks for writing this blog, Anne.


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