Friday, November 6, 2009

work tears

So, I burst into tears today at work. Awesome. Back story: I work remotely for a company based far away. I'm organizing an event with one of the head guys. I'm also organizing an event the very same week with THE head guy. Let's call them Top Dog and Nearly Top Dog. These two have not entirely been getting along lately, and the Top Dog called me last week furious I had done something Nearly Top Dog wanted me to do. We worked it out. Yesterday, I did something for Nearly Top Dog's event that Top Dog wanted me to do - and was something I thought was a good idea and should be done and maybe Nearly Top Dog wouldn't like it but tough. So Nearly Top Dog calls me this morning and lets me have it. I apologize, I weave around, I explain, I invoke Top Dog - but Nearly Top Dog was having none of it. Why? he keeps asking me, why would you do that without asking me? (Because I knew you'd shortsightedly say no and it's the right thing to do and I'm empowered to make these decisions, jerk, is the technically correct answer.) So finally I say, I...I...I....I can't talk to you right now (obviously crying) and hang up.

My initial thought was good, maybe he'll feel bad he made me cry. But then I really did start to cry. I'm sick and yet working hard on these two events and these two jokers had been putting me in the middle for weeks of whatever it was that was going on between them and Wah!!!!!

So after I calm down I think, great, now what. I need to call Nearly Top Dog back and apologize for hanging up and (hoping he feels bad) just agree to move past this. Before I can, Nearly Top Dog calls. He apologizes, I apologize, he tells me there's been a lot going on in the office, tensions are high, leadership of the office is in question, etc, but that he and Top Dog had a big clearing the air meeting yesterday and things were back on track and obviously I had gotten caught in the middle. So we're all good. (and it is all good - I do love this job, and I love it exactly because it is challenging.)

But back to my first reaction when I hung up. It was definitely good, I hope he feels badly that I am crying. I've worked for some powerful women in my day - one of whom told me never, ever cry. Another of whom said, a good cry, strategically played, is a powerful tool in a working woman's arsenal. I think I've absorbed lesson #2. What do you think of crying in the workplace? Verboten? Or, when used wisely and not too often, a good strategic move?


San said...

I think in my case it wouldn't matter if it's a "no-no" or sometimes a good strategical move. If I need to cry, I need to cry.

CLC said...

Oh, how sucky for you. Sorry you had to deal with that. I try to stick to the no tears. I work with primarily all men. I feel like if I let them see tears they would think I was weak. I think tears would negate any good work I have done there in the last 5 years. That's all they would think of when it came to me. That said, it was extremely difficult being back there after Hannah died and my immediate boss has witnessed me cry regarding my personal life. But he was very compassionate and has never held it against me. A