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:


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.


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.


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.

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With all the rhetoric about leaning in, it can be easy to forget, as women, we’re meant to lean in together. The leaning in expert, Sheryl Sandberg, acknowledges that we can’t do it alone or at the expense of other women. You’ve probably already devoured Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (and if you haven’t – you should!), but we think the COO of Facebook says it best when she wrote, “The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves. Acting like a coalition truly does produce results.”

We all want to be successful, and more and more we’re being empowered to do so. Which is great! We’re all about collecting personal achievements and #LadyBragging until the sun comes up. But what do we do when we realize we’ve been sabotaging another woman in order to get ahead?

There are many situations in which you may be unknowingly harming a colleague’s potential to be successful. In the fight to break the glass ceiling, it can be easy to develop tunnel vision on the path to your own success. Maybe you’ve been focusing so much on your own professional development that the development of a mentee has fallen to the wayside. Maybe you keep talking over a peer at important meetings. Or maybe, you’ve found yourself in the habit of gossiping about other women in your professional network. Whatever your slip-up, it’s good you’ve recognized the issue and want to make amends.

There are many ways to help other women in your workplace or professional network, but here are just a few:


Introducing a colleague or a mentee to someone important in your professional network is a great way to help them. Our CEO and Co-founder Olivia always advocates for the importance of a good network and knowing how to use it. Helping someone make important connections could do wonders for their career in the future.


Even if no one asks you explicitly, your experience and knowledge is valuable information to spread. Don’t be stingy with the advice! We all have so much to learn from each other and we should not only be open to listening, but also to sharing. One of my favorite things that we do at VINA is sharing important reading materials that we come across on a day to day basis. If we read something informative about marketing, app development, or social media, we share it with the whole team! Spreading the wealth of knowledge is one of the greatest assets we have as a coalition of women.


One of the things most detrimental to women in the workplace is unnecessary gossip. According to Sandberg, successful women are disliked by both men and other women. Do what you can to change that! Step in when you hear people spreading negative stories about a female colleague and don’t perpetuate any rumors or bad thoughts you hear. In fact, try making it a rule to say one nice thing about a colleague every day! You don’t just have to #LadyBrag for yourself, you can celebrate your peers’ successes too.

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