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Is It Ever OK to Cry at Work?

Is It Ever OK to Cry at Work?

Jodi Glickman Brown

By now, most people have seen at least one clip of Speaker of the House to-be John Boehner shedding tears in front of the camera — on the House Floor, with Leslie Stahl on “60 minutes,” talking about our failing public education system, you name it.

And perhaps you’re thinking to yourself that the rules of the game have changed: perhaps it is okay to cry at work. It’s not. Even though the highest-ranking congressman in the land does it, you still can’t. It is never okay to cry in your office, with your colleagues, or, god forbid, in front of your boss.

John Boehner is an anomaly. He’s the exception, not the rule. There are three key differences between John Boehner and the rest of us above-average professionals looking to progress in our careers: first, he’s the boss, second he’s not crying about workplace issues, and third, he’s old (or older, depending on where you sit).

What to Do Instead?

Admittedly, it’s not crazy to think something will happen at some point that will make you want to cry. No one is immune to hurt feelings, harsh criticisms or unfair treatment. But unless you’re the boss or elder statesman, you simply shouldn’t lose it. Instead, when you find yourself at the end of your rope, consider the following:

Next Page: A sad or unfixable fait accompli →



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Featured Author: Jodi Glickman Brown
Great on the Job focuses on the daily, one-on-one interactions in the workplace that are so critical to success—yet are largely overlooked by traditional corporate and business school training programs. Her clients include top tier business schools (Harvard, Wharton, NYU), Wall Street clients (Barclays, Merrill Lynch, Citi) and fortune 500 companies. Jodi is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review blog and her book is being published by St. Martin’s Press in early 2011. Jodi lives in Chicago with her husband and two little girls.


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