All of my friends would describe me as a passionate person. When I have an opinion on something, it is strong, and my emotions hit full force. It’s difficult for me to contain my dramatic tendencies, but as a business owner and employer, it is crucial to be able to keep a handle on my feelings.
I would like to believe that every work environment is a safe space, but I know that isn’t the truth. When one of my employees is going through a rough time, I always do my best to be sympathetic and wear my compassion hat before my boss hat. I don’t do this well all the time, and I know there are employers who don’t do this at all. This may not be the most popular opinion out there, but after two years of owning my own business, I truly believe that, unless it’s an emergency, work isn’t the place to cry about it.
Before you write me off as insensitive, really think about the why. In the midst of the feminist era, it’s easy to rant about how we need to embrace our feelings and cry in the office if we want to cry. But here’s the thing – being unprofessional in the office may make you feel better temporarily, but it’s at someone else’s detriment permanently.
I love the girls who work for me, and in a business of all women, the friendships and life chats flow easily. However, when I or one of my staff members comes into work with a bad attitude or breaks down in the front lobby, it affects everyone. It strains my friendship with them because I feel torn on how to react. It makes me anxious about how new clients will feel with this obviously sad person working around them. It makes my clients stressed and unable to focus on their in-studio experience because they are worried about my employee or me. I’m all for being real, but timing is everything.
If you’re of the opinion that women (and men) should be able to cry in the workplace, I think it’s important to distinguish why this topic has become a hot button for so many people. For women especially, there is a misconception that crying shows weakness, but in actuality, I think it takes a huge amount of strength to cry in front of someone else and show vulnerability. However, crying in the workplace does make the work environment weak. It throws everyone off guard and prevents people from focusing on the task at hand.
I don’t think the subjects of professionalism and emotions should be categorized as male-female issues. It’s a human issue. We all have bad days, and we all have moments where we want to crumble. Hopefully, you work in an understanding environment, but don’t let someone’s kindness encourage you to take advantage of the workplace. Do your best to check your personal problems at the door, and find time after-hours for self-care and recovery.