Posts tagged: How to handle crying in the work place

Big Boys (and Girls) DO Cry! How Your Emotions Can Make You Smarter…

By , August 21, 2013 10:13 am

Big Boys don't cry“Crying can make you smarter.”

Nancy Kline – Author

I was talking with a manager who admitted that he struggled when one of his team started to get emotional and cried. He wasn’t sure how to react; it made him feel uncomfortable, and he just wanted them to ‘get over it’ and get their control back. He’d find himself over talking and saying anything to try to stop their reaction. This didn’t make him feel good.

It’s funny how we label crying, anger, and even fear, as being out of control.

If you watch other people’s reaction to someone crying at work they might panic, look uncomfortable, or start talking and smother them with their own concern. This reaction is more about them and wanting the other person to stop, rather than about the person crying.

Our society is scared of tears, anger and fear. We just want it to stop. We think that the pain will go away if you just stop it!

Here’s a recent real life example…

I was watching a Mother at Tescos supermarket yelling at her 3-year old child who was crying because she couldn’t sit in the cart. The Mum grabbed her child by the arm and shouted: “Big girls don’t cry – Just grow up! Stop it! You’re a bad girl and you’re embarrassing me in front of all these people!”

I had to walk away from this…

The Mother was teaching her child to repress her emotions and push them down. The child was learning how to become acceptable. Of course, the little girl sobbed even more because of her Mother’s reaction.

We have been taught to pull ourselves together, not show our weaknesses, and we are encouraged to stop showing our emotions.

Here’s the thing, though… Our emotions are there for a reason.

When we get upset (angry, scared or tearful) our thinking stops. Human beings minds are designed to get logic and thinking back if an emotional circuit breaker kicks in. Expressing your feelings, e.g. talking your anger out with a friend on the phone, can be enough to restart your thinking.

Crying is a natural process to rid the body of pain and upset. It’s completely natural and a healthy way to release toxic energy that has built up inside us.

Myths and bad advice that our parents and teachers have taught us:

  1. Crying increases the pain – So if you want it to stop – STOP crying!
  2. Being angry means that you’re out of control – You need to control your anger. Anger is a bad thing – no one should be angry EVER! Stop being angry and your anger will go away.
  3. Being scared is a weakness – You need to toughen up and be more confident. Just stop shaking and you’ll not feel scared.

Stopping this natural release makes the pain find another route to flow. It is absorbed inside you, where it goes underground. Holding this in can cause pressure, anxiety and even physical illness if the issue is held down long enough. These built up feelings churn around inside you and block your thinking.

Here’s my response to the manager who was struggling…

If someone is crying at work it could be for many reasons: frustration, sadness or even because of a paradigm shift in their thinking that has had a profound impact on them.

In that moment, their emotions trigger in to release the energy; they need to cry because in that moment they can’t think. It’s the same with being angry or scared…

Allow and hold space for this to happen for a few minutes.

In those few minutes, they don’t need your platitudes or smothering with words.

  • If they are angry – Let them just talk it out. ALL you have to do is LISTEN. Don’t try to reason with them. Don’t jump in there and agree – you’ll make things worse! Ask them: what is it that is making you angry about this?
  • If they are crying – Let them cry and just sit with them (don’t do anything!). They may cry because they are frustrated and unable to think. This will pass sooner rather than later, if you don’t stop them.
  • If they are scared – Let them talk through their fear. Sometimes just articulating their fear and sharing it reduces its power. Again, all you have to do is LISTEN.

Hold space for them and act as if it’s perfectly okay and normal (because it is!). Give them your respectful attention.

Observe what happens…

They will recover in a short space of time and their thinking will re-engage. You don’t need to over compensate by thinking for them and rambling out loud!

It’s natural for people to occasionally get angry, cry or say that they are frightened. Allow safe space for this to happen and you’ll observe how quickly people can recover from their emotion and think more clearly afterwards.

Next time you’re feeling angry, sad or frightened, give yourself permission to allow your emotions out rather than keeping it all inside and pushing it down.

BIG Boys (and Girls) DO Cry!

 

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