Jennifer Palmieri, the former communications director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the White House during President Barack Obama’s administration has an important takeaway from her years working with the nation’s most powerful politicians — don’t be afraid to cry. Palmieri is the author of a new book — Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World. Speaking about the book with Mic, she recalled how she and other women in positions of leadership were conditioned to always respond to bad news with a simple nod, rather than tears.
“As a woman, I have to prove no matter how tough or bad the news is that I can handle it,” Palmieri explained. “We either mute ourselves or hold ourselves back from behaving as we are inclined to because we think that’s not acceptable at work.”
But personally, she said, she found that standard impossible — and unproductive — to try to live up to.
“I have cried in the Oval Office, in the West Wing of the White House, in presidential motorcades, in holding rooms at the Kremlin, out of exhaustion and frustration. I have cried in front of Hillary Clinton, I have cried in front of Barack Obama, I am a crying evangelist,” said Palmieri.
Have you ever cried at work? If so, tell us about it and use the hashtag #IveCriedAtWork
Former Clinton campaign official says women shouldn’t be ashamed of crying at work:https://t.co/WFdVCS0Mta
Have you cried at work?
— Women in the World (@WomenintheWorld) April 19, 2018
And for those serving publicly, she said, crying be an important way of showing the public how one really feels.
“I certainly saw President Obama cry on many occasions … The first time was after Newtown, which he still says is the most devastating day of his presidency,” she said, recalling when President Obama famously teared up during a press conference about the need for gun control after 20 children were killed in a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
The rise of the #MeToo movement and other women’s rights initiatives across the United States, Palmieri noted, was allowing women to finally change the discourse on what’s considered acceptable in the workplace — in more ways than one.
“I think that is what this time is for women now,” she said. “We get to decide what we think is professional in the workplace, what works for us, and what makes an environment a place where we can succeed. Do not mute your passions and do not mute your emotions. If you are moved to cry because you are angry and frustrated or because something is that important to you — do it.”
Watch Palmieri’s interview with Mic below.