Has your partner ever asked you these words? “Why are you getting so emotional?” I heard it while seating seaside in Nova Scotia discussing our financial situation over a phone call. I had asked our accountant to call my husband to discuss our financial year end report (I like to keep business professional and don’t like to interpret info to him).
I had called to ask how it went – I could feel myself getting defensive over the items discussed and his perceptions. Was I emotional over what we were discussing? Dam right. Too emotional? Maybe- often as the female in the household I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I am the one scheduling the lives and activities of everyone in our household – as the owner of our corporation – both professionally and personally. It isn’t that my husband isn’t capable of helping – he is – and is very active in the duties of our family and work life. It is just just that I am hard wired to think of these things first. If I am organized enough I will get him to help with all the various things that fill my brain with worry. I too know he is overwhelmed with items in his brain and his duties too. Most times I am thinking of things fairly last minute although I am making planning more of a priority these days so that I can help him help me!
According to studies, science backs up the women and emotional stereotype.
Please know I am not trying to play into stereotypes as I know firsthand that men or even our fellow women colleagues can jump to conclusions that we are too emotionally charged when in fact we are not. This can cause snap judgements that are just not fair.
But here are Facts according to this study:
Using MRI data from 696 test subjects, the researchers were also able to show that stronger appraisal of negative emotional image content by the female participants is linked to increased brain activity in motoric regions.
‘This result would support the common belief that women are more emotionally expressive than men,’ explained Dr Klara Spalek, lead author of the study.
Do you Cry at Work?
I am the first to admit that I have cried at work many times (privately in my cubical or washroom after a highly charged meeting). In my twenties, before my brain was fully formed (yes science backs up this too that men and women’s brains aren’t fully formed til our mid twenties) managing decision making and stress levels wasn’t easy for me – graduating fairly young from college, I was sorting through work objectives and learning on the job. I remember also being in college and having to run to the bathroom in tears – the pressure to succeed was too much for me many days. I did succeed but at a cost – I was overwhelmed a lot (although performing at a high level).
Years passed, I better learned to control my strong emotions and anxiety by ensuring good sleep and lots of exercise were a priority. I learned time management systems that worked for me. I also took up running in my twenties and it helped to fuel my confidence and lower my stress levels.
Just when I thought I had mastered it I started my own business and found that crying was again a strong reaction to my overwhelm. Most recently I was crying while discussing my finances with my accountant. It felt weird but I couldn’t help but tear up as I discussed things that were really raw to me (first occurrence in five years of working together – but we connected over it and I felt way better). Did it change her opinion of me? Not sure. Don’t care. Got to move on. I was professional – and didn’t stop to say why I was crying as I teared up, just wiped the tears and kept discussing what need to be dealt with.
According to an article I read in Canadian Business 41% of women have admitted to crying at work. Once considered the kiss of death for your credibility, things are starting to change with more education and admissions by high profile leaders. We are learning now it can be a chance to have a real conversation with your co-workers or boss. According to Sheryl Sandberg in Lean In, she found it an opportunity to get to a new level with Mark Zuckerberg, “It was a breakthrough moment for us” Sandberg wrote “I felt closer to him then ever before”.
If you are the CEO of a company and have to layoff your staff crying can humanize you. If you do need to cry at work I say don’t be embarrassed or justify – just wipe your tears and excuse yourself. There is no need to explain (for example if you are in a meeting). After, look at what is upsetting you and figure out a solution. With Brene Brown as our champion being vulnerable is the new black. Don’t lose sleep over it.
Have you been emotional on the job? Share your story in the comments below or in an email to email@example.com with your email and receive a coupon for 20% to purchase a WIBN Membership.