Ever had nasty words spread about you at work? And were those words published as front-page news in Politico, with your colleagues describing you as “a source of widespread frustration and anxiety,” “impossible,” and “disengaged or uncaring”?
That’s what happened to the first-ever-female New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson. She opened up to Cosmopolitan in a recent interview about the negative press (and her very public dethroning):
“I did cry after reading [that] article about me in Politico. I don’t regret admitting I did. The reason I wanted to do this interview is that I think it is important to try to speak very candidly to young women. The most important advice I would still give—and it may seem crazy because I did lose this job I really loved—you have to be an authentic person. I did cry. That is my authentic first reaction. I don’t regret sharing that.”
Despite the fact that crying has proven mental and emotional benefits, and that 41 percent of working women surveyed in 2010 said they had cried at the office in the previous year, the taboo remains. While Abramson didn’t specify where exactly she spilled her tears, a high-powered woman openly discussing her authentic emotions brings up the perennial crying-at-work debate.
We rounded up a few highly successful women’s thoughts on the letting the tears flow in the office:
“I think crying at work is inevitable. It should be done sparingly. It’s a non-issue. It happens from time to time, and it’s usually for a good reason.”
—Real Simple editor Kristin van Ogtrop, author of Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom
“Most people believe—and research suggests—that it is not a good idea to cry at work. It is never something that I plan to do and is hardly recommended in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but on those rare occasions when I have felt really frustrated, or worse, betrayed, tears have filled my eyes. Even as I have gotten older and more experienced, it still happens every so often.”
—COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg, in her bestseller Lean In
“The last thing I or any other boss wants to hear is, ‘Wahhhh, I was just trying to be helpful, wahhhh!’ That’s why I officially banished crying to the sidewalk outside. You think I’m a bitch? Fine. Go sit on the street and call your friend and talk shit about me all day. Just get out of my office and stop psychically blowing my vibe and that of the others who came here to make money and be serious instead of being jokers. […]Once you enter a workplace, you’re surrounded by grown-ups, not friends. Your boss is not your boyfriend, and she’s not your therapist. She is a person who is paying you to do a job. If you (or she, for that matter) think otherwise, you will be burned.”
—Fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone in her book, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You
“Some people say, ‘Never let them see you cry.’ I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”
—Comedian Tina Fey, in her memoir Bossypants
The Huffington Post put together a great list a few months ago with even more successful women weighing in on the conversation. How do you feel about crying at work? Tell us in the comments.