In a recent interview with Mic, Jennifer Palmieri, a former Hillary Clinton campaign official and a member of President Barack Obama’s White House staff, opened up about having cried at work — and urged other women to not fear shedding tears while on the job. Palmieri, a self-professed “crying evangelist,” candidly recalled the many places she has cried while working — and the high-powered people whom she’s cried in front of. She believes “we don’t know what we are holding back by not expressing what we really think or thinking that we have to prove how tough we are.”
So, we decided to ask our followers on Twitter, “Have you cried at work?” and invited people to share their stories using the hashtag #IveCriedAtWork.
Based on some of the responses we saw, Palmieri is right that appearing to be “tough” at work is a concern among many, as it came up more than once. Women seem to be on a never-ending quest to prove we’re not inferior, and this phenomenon emerged in the concerns people expressed. Some people used the words “small” or “inadequate” to describe how they might be perceived if they were to cry at work. One woman even speculated that she would lose credibility with her colleagues if they saw her crying.
I’m glad some people have had good experiences but I have never cried with my office door open or where anyone could see at work because it’s unprofessional in a law firm and as a woman, I would lose credibility #IveCriedAtWork
— Ivylea (@InVinoVeritazz) April 19, 2018
One woman even recalled a bizarre incident in which she said a male colleague hit on her while she cried. Great. Apparently, it’s not just the clothes we wear that can result in harassment — it’s also the tears we might cry.
Absolutely #ivecriedatwork but in the 8 years at this job I’ve cried out in the open only 2x. One of the times a male colleague saw me and told me “you look sexy when you cry .” I told him that’s what rapists say.
— 🦉Haley!🦂 (@LadyTrashfire) April 22, 2018
Some were surprised to see us even asking such a question, and suggested the appropriate inquiry should have centered on “how many times” people have cried while on the job.
Are you kidding with that question? Start with this:
“Can you count HOW MANY TIMES YOU HAVE CRIED AT WORK?”
Seriously. It’s more common than you obviously could EVER imagine.#IveCriedAtWork
— anne andersen (@aeanyc) April 22, 2018
The criers said that they would shed tears as a form of relief, out of frustration or as a way of moving forward. Some shared difficult experiences that triggered their tears, such as witnessing or reporting on deaths and atrocities. A nurse who worked in a cancer unit said that she cried — as did the male RNs and “doctors of all genders” stationed in the unit with her. She was not alone in believing that crying at work should not be limited to only women. But even those who have shed tears for reasons they thought were justified said that the act was frowned upon.
Which brings us to those who told us they have indeed cried at work, but not before finding a place to hide before doing so. To avoid being scolded or judged, these people said they’ve cried behind closed doors, often in the bathroom. Has the bathroom become an emotional sanctuary? Some said they have designated stalls for crying at work.
#IveCriedAtWork OMG, of course I’ve cried at work. I’m a nurse who worked on a cancer unit. And I’m not the only one-I’ve seen male RNs And docs of all genders cry, as well. Not a damn thing wrong with it. https://t.co/tRqXwcIDMp
— Grace&peacelovingRN (@nmomminator) April 23, 2018
There's even a designated stall in the bathroom for crying at my work. #IveCriedAtWork
— Herculinds 👏 Herculinds 👏 Herculinds (@Herculinds) April 22, 2018
Turns out, a fair amount of people have cried at work and are open to talking about it on social media. The hashtag picked up some nice traction and even caught the attention of Elle France. But according to some responses, “le hastag” #IveCriedAtWork is not exclusive to women who sit crying at work, some pride themselves on triggering the waterworks.
Whats up with this #IveCriedAtWork thing? Sorry but I haven’t. Ever. Not even when I was only woman in my dept for over a decade. Just not my style. Probably made a few other people cry though…
— Mary-Anne Gross (@enlytend) April 22, 2018
–> Implying that women are weak and their constant need to cry should be understood not shamed because women have no self-control.
–> Implying men don't cry and if they do they should be ashamed.#IveCriedAtWork NOT, but I have made others cry.https://t.co/kUWIqCIM9f
— Partisangirl 🇸🇾 (@Partisangirl) April 20, 2018
You can see a full list of all the response we received here.