Watch CBS News

Crying In The Workplace

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There's no crying at the office. At least that's what many people believe. But researchers are finding out that plenty of successful people break that rule. Emotions and business can mix.

You see it in the movies.

Sometimes you see on the campaign trail. But nobody wants to do it.

"Emotions are something that you can't control," said one woman.

Especially at work.

"There's not a person among us who wants to be in a meeting and burst into tears," said author Anne Kreamer. She wrote It's Always Personal, a book about emotion at work.

Crying is not foreign to her. She remembers her boss, a CEO, calling to chew her out.

"I obviously couldn't get angry at this man, so I just sort of sat there and took it, and when he slammed the phone down ninety seconds later, I burst into tears," Kreamer said.

Kreamer's research found 41% of women admitted they cried at work in the last year versus 9% of men.

"I'm the supervisor, so I'm not allowed to cry at work," said one man. "I cry at home."

One reason women cry more? Their tear ducts are larger and therefore, spill more than men.

And believe it or not, research shows that women judge women who cry more harshly than men do. But experts say whether it's a reaction to work or home-related stress, no one should pass judgment.

Wharton professor Sigal Barsade researches how emotions affect organizations.

"Very often people view emotions as, sort of, it's noise. It gets in the way of rationality," said Barsade. "But in fact, what we know from the science is that emotions and cognition are completely intertwined. You can't have one without the other."

Kreamer believes your home life comes right to the office, and so do your tears.

"Many times," said one woman. "I have three teenage boys, so yeah, especially when you get a call from the principal and stuff."

Since many people believe crying in the office has the potential to hurt your career, what should you do if it happens to you?

"You shouldn't ignore the tears as if they didn't happen, which is generally what people do. 'I didn't see it, you didn't see it, we're good!'" Barsade said. "But to say something like, you know, 'I'm composed now. As you can see, this is something that I feel really strongly about.'"

Both experts say good workplaces understand that their employees are wired for emotion and should give them an understanding ear.

Take an online survey at:

Reported by Natasha Brown, CBS 3

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.