It’s an unspoken taboo to cry or display any vulnerability at work. If we as women and professionals want to be seen as competent or powerful, we can’t afford to show a trace of weakness or risk being seen as “too female” and “not capable” to handle a fast-paced work environment. The New York Post wrote a piece that sensationalizes crying at work as the thing to do “if you never want to succeed”. Even Fast Company set boundaries on appropriate or inappropriate times to cry. Shedding tears during work hours does not seem to be á la mode in professional circles.
At VINA HQ, we believe that vulnerability is the key to connection and lifelong success. Work should not only be a space to thrive but also provide networks of work friends and allies who see crying and expressing vulnerability as a safe and necessary activity. Tech queen and VINA hero, Sheryl Sandberg, believes crying at work is valuable and permissible. According to Lean In, sharing emotions allow us to “build better relationships” and emphasizes “authenticity over perfection”.
Creating a haven to cry at work is no easy or instant feat. It requires creating pockets of connections that believe in your same mission and creating a culture that values transparency over a brand of brittle perfectionism and “professionalism”. Here are a few ways to create and nurture a haven at work for you and your work connections:
SEEK ALLIES AND FRIENDS IN A DIFFERENT DEPARTMENT
It might be difficult to find work friends within your team that can separate work goals from friendship goals. If you are feeling overburdened by a project and want to vent, seeking friends outside of your department is the best way to create a haven with those who have an outside POV on your situation. With no direct investment in your department’s project, they can provide a safe space without the anxiety of pushing your work forward.
BE A BOSS THAT VALUES AUTHENTICITY
Company culture is distributed in a top-down fashion, so be the type of leadership that creates a haven for vulnerability and authenticity. If you want to have a team that believes in transparency and collaborative solutions – instead of one that would rather allow a project to implode rather than admit weakness, you have to speak openly about those values. Reward those who push for community over competition, and don’t promote those who have a hard time accepting feedback or have a defensive fixed mindset.
JUST CRY AND TELL A STORY
If the situation at work pushes you over the edge and you feel the floodgates opening, go ahead and cry. The best environment is in a private conference room with only a few people. Go ahead, vina, and cry it out. Don’t just stop there, and express your emotional intelligence in a story that explains the need for the waterworks. Talk to them about your frustrations (without having to throw anyone under the bus), and ask for help. Sharing your experience will lead to doors of empathy. You might find that others share your same sentiments about work and have developed a newly established respect for you.
(Featured image via stocksy.com)