Crying comes more easily for some than others. It doesn’t necessarily mean frequent criers are more emotional (tear glands vary among individuals), but many see tears as weakness. Crying is especially embarrassing in the workplace, but professional settings are often places with the most stress and therefore places where the urge to cry is likely to strike. It may seem there is nothing to prevent crying or recover from a crying episode, but there are a few tricks to try when you feel the tears welling up. And if you do cry at work, there are ways to lessen the damage to your self-esteem and professional image.
- Distraction – Distracting yourself from whatever is causing you to feel upset is the easiest way to prevent tears. Try changing the conversation if possible, or focus on an object nearby. You may also mentally distract yourself by thinking of something you really enjoy – a video game, shopping, etc.
- The Anger Advantage – Often, crying is a way of expressing anger or frustration rather than sadness. Find a way to focus on the anger and use it to your advantage. This doesn’t mean scream and yell, but rather respond to the person or persons causing the problem in a calm but firm way.
- Funny Stuff – We all have something that never fails to make us laugh. Whether it’s an image, video, or joke, try to think of something that makes you laugh. This may not be ideal for everyone, since you don’t want to burst out laughing at an inappropriate time, but it could work to stop the tears until the urge to cry has subsided.
- Blink – Blinking several times can help prevent tears from flowing. Try blinking hard until you feel more calm.
- Drink Water– When fighting tears, we often have a big lump in the throat. Drink water not only provides a distraction, but can help remove the lump in your throat.
- Pain as Distraction – If mental distractions don’t work, you may need something physical. Pain serves as a great physical distraction. Try snapping a rubber band on your wrist, biting your cheek, or pinching yourself.
- Get Out – If you do start to cry, remove yourself from the upsetting situation as soon as possible. Try finding a private place to recover. Even if you’ve starting crying, it’s possible to prevent a complete meltdown. Once you’re alone, it’s good to try some of the tips above to help you stop.
- Acknowledge the Situation – If you’ve cried in front of someone, don’t try to ignore it. Just explain that you got a bit upset and apologize for losing control. This will demonstrate professionalism and reassure others that you can handle the stress of your job.
- Seek Help – Seeing a therapist or visiting your doctor can help you understand why you’re crying and identify underlying medical conditions that may be causing the problem. A professional can also help you pinpoint more effective coping mechanisms.
- Change Your Environment – If you’ve always been a frequent crier, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to cry in any job. However, if your job has made you feel much more upset than usual, it might be best to look for a healthier work environment. Read about some common signs you are in the wrong job to determine if a change is needed.
If you’ve cried over workplace stress, you’re not alone. Crying is a way of expressing many emotions including stress anger frustration and embarrassment. Everyone experiences these feelings, they are just more visible in those that cry easily.