my employee constantly cries when things don’t go her way

A reader writes:

I have an employee who cries very often (more than once a week). Anytime any small thing happens that she perceives as a slight or that doesn’t go her way, she starts crying and talks about how wronged she is. Even in neutral staff meetings where we are discussing seemingly inconsequential things, this is a nearly constant problem. It’s causing other workers to feel manipulated and bullied. I’ve tried every response I can think of, and I have probably been overly patient with what has now become a serious disruption to doing business. We’ve talked about professionalism and she says that she can’t help it. What can I do to stop the madness?

I suppose it’s possible that she can’t help the crying (although at that frequency, I’m very skeptical), but she sure as hell can help the part where she’s talking about how wronged she is. And because she’s clearly BSing you on that part, I’m not inclined to take her seriously on any of it. And you’ve got to put a stop to it, because it’s disruptive to your operations, impacting your other staff members, and signaling to your whole staff that this kind of thing is tolerated there, which is a very bad signal to send about your culture.

I’d say something like this to her: “When you react so strongly, it’s disruptive and makes it difficult for us to move forward with our work. I need you to stop having emotional outbursts at work. Can you do that?”

From there, I’d start cutting the behavior off as soon as it starts. If she starts crying in a meeting, tell her calmly, “Why don’t you excuse yourself for a few minutes?” If she can’t regain her composure, suggest she take some PTO and return tomorrow. But don’t subject the rest of your staff to her crying and accusations.

Additionally, you should treat “calm and professional demeanor” as a job requirement like any other. If she continues to not meet the bar you’ve laid out for her in that area, then you’d set and enforce consequences.

What those consequences are will depend on whether this is ultimately a deal-breaker for you, but could start with a stern conversation with you the next time it happens, and could end up anywhere from impacting her performance evaluations and raises to letting her go if the behavior is disruptive enough. (And given the language in your short paragraph here — “constant problem,” “causing other workers to feel manipulated and bullied,” serious disruption to doing business” — I’m thinking it is indeed disruptive enough to warrant letting her go if her behavior is unresponsive to your feedback.)

{ 284 comments… read them below }

  1. Adam*

    I’d bet my next paycheck this person isn’t like this just at the office. This type of behavior is probably deeply ingrained and a pattern she’s held onto for a long time. Part of her may not even recognize that she’s doing it. As Alison said, lay down the law, but I’d set clear parameters on what needs to change or else. Because if this sort of behavior is driving you nuts as a manager, I guarantee it’s driving her fellow coworkers positively bonkers.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      This. I have a colleague who is the same way except we can swap “tears” with “screaming rage fits.” It’s never her fault and this pervades every area of her life.

    2. Mallory*

      Someone in a recent thread about something similar to this used the phrase “learned effective behavior”, which I think is what this is. She’s learned, probably from a very young age, that she can get her way be crying and being helpless, and it’s been so effective that she hasn’t bothered to learn any other way to cope.

      I think people like this can change, but they have to be motivated to want to change, and it is a lot of unpleasant hard work, which they don’t tend to like.

      1. Adam*

        Agreed. It may not even be her fault that she developed this pattern (parents: your influence is strong in ways you will never even realize), but as an adult it’s on her to change the course, and step one is acknowledging the problem is actually there. And as long her behavior is still meriting some sort of “reward” in her mind’s eye, she will have no reason to change it.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          It’s also seen as meriting reward by her co-workers, and that’s Trouble with a capital T. This behavior needs to be stopped right now.

          OP, don’t be afraid of tears!! They’re not fatal. Give her a tissue and tell her she can’t act that way at work any more. If you don’t, you’ll have your good employees looking for new jobs where this sort of nonsense isn’t tolerated.

        2. Mallory*

          (parents: your influence is strong in ways you will never even realize)

          One of my sister’s childhood friends was trained this way (wittingly or not) by her family. Her mother had always wanted a girl, and she didn’t have one until her youngest boy was about 12 years old. It was a family rule that nobody could contradict or upset the little girl. Everyone had to give her her way, and if anyone made her cry by not giving her her way, they would be in TROUBLE by the mother.

          This girl would come for sleepovers at my house as part of my sister’s gang of friends, and she was a nightmare to deal with! She would always pout and cry to get her own way, and then she would threaten everybody that if she didn’t get her way, that she was going to go home. My grandma always said, “There’s the phone; go call your mom.” And her mom would always come and get her.

          I’ve always wondered if this kid has grown up to be the kind of adult that OP is writing about, because I could totally see her turning out that way.

          1. The Real Ash*

            I had a neighbor who’s sister was like that! She was the baby with two older brothers and we always got in trouble if we didn’t do what she wanted. Eventually I just stopped going over to their house to play, not that it changed their mother’s behavior at all. Her kids lost a friend because she couldn’t be bothered to raise her boys and her girl the same way.

          2. Adam*

            I totally could see her turning out similarly, and the sad part is that many people, not just herself, will have no idea why that’s the case. It makes these sort of issues lifetime pursuits to sort out for some.

          3. LD*

            Yes, she turned out to be exactly like that as an adult and just got married to a one of my distant in-laws.
            She can’t stand the sound of children playing because it is loud and distracting even when they play quietly. When they are loud she says she won’t allow her children to be “that way” because she will discipline them. (Not to play? Not to talk? Not to laugh?) She brings a book to visit family because their conversation is boring to her (not about her, so not interesting). I could write a book. She’s a very distant in-law, so, thankfully, I won’t have to endure her often.

            1. Melissa*

              Ha, wait until she actually has kids. I don’t even have them and even I know that people who say that they won’t let their kids do something are doomed to have kids who highly enjoy doing exactly that.

          4. Melissa*

            My sister was in this sort of situation. She’s the youngest of the three of us, and my mother was the second youngest of 7. My mother – being the “baby” of the family (she had a younger brother, but everyone treated her as the baby and my aunts STILL call her the baby) had grown up crying and acting helpless to get her way with her parents, and so it was an acceptable level of behavior with my sister. Therefore, my younger sister learned to cry and whine and accuse to get her way and she often did.

            Two beautiful things happened, though. One is that my brother and I are kind of terrible and we came up with an ingenious way to tease her about it that was so noxious to her it minimized her crying (it involved doing the annoying older-sibling mimicry until she flounced off in a huff). The best part, though, was it came back to bite my mom big time because she now can’t STAND the sound of my sister’s whining and it irritates her more than it irritates anyone else. It is highly amusing, since my mom is known as a bit of a whiner herself.

            Now my sister’s 23 and it’s not so big of an issue anymore – I think she learned to control it because she was also the youngest cousin and EVERYONE teased her about it. Although every now and then you will catch her whining.

        3. Bea W*

          I learned all kinds of effed up behavior (not this kind on top of everything else thankfully) from my parents and other adults. Fortunately once i got away from home and the neighborhood i figured out that it was totally effed up and even then it was hard to tease out the screwed up parts and reprogram my thinking and learn some healthy behavior. I think if i had stuck around Dysfunction Junction into my 20s or so it would have been even harder.

          In casual conversations with my mother i came to find out she was totally aware of her behavior and seemed to not have any belief that it was completely messed up. She seemed to think it was the way normal people acted. Even all 3 of her children cutting contact with her didn’t clue her in. She even claimed my sister may have been possessed in order to shut her out because certainly she did nothing to deserve it and my sister was such a sweet girl it was probably some nasty “walk in” spirit influencing her.

        4. Ruffingit*

          It’s absolutely being rewarded. She’s probably gotten what she wants more often than not with this behavior and she still has a job so it hasn’t affected her in any major way as of yet. It’s no wonder she continues it.

      2. sam*

        seconded. I was actually a very weepy person growing up, including through at least some of college. I would cry at the drop of a hat and while I felt like it was completely involuntary and something I couldn’t get a handle on, I did realize that it was affecting certain relationships and I worked on shutting it down.

        That’s not to say that I’ve never ever cried at work, but one time it was due to extreme lack of sleep and frustration (major deal launching and we pulled several all-nighters in a row), but I felt it “coming on” and excused myself and had my breakdown in the ladies room. The second time was when I got laid off. I didn’t feel the need to particularly repress myself that time, but even then I managed to save the real outburst for when I was out of the “bad news” room.

        1. BeenThere*

          Wow, I was crier and very bad at expressing what made me cry. Even being yelled at would make me cry when I was young. I was so embarrassed by it and I could never figure out why my first reaction was to cry to many situations, it was practically involuntary. Reading this makes me think that I may have gotten my way when I was was really young and the behaviour stayed. It took me forever to get rid of it. I cried when I made a mistake , realised then told my manager at my first professional intership (thankfully I had an awesome manager). I cried when I got my first bad performance review (although there was a lot of of stuff going to make me look bad and get me to quit). Years since crying at work now stands at the proud total of six :)

      3. Curiosity*

        Yeah – I was 19 when I realized how much power being able to cry on cue gave me, and how that wasn’t actually a good thing. I could feel myself turning into a horrible manipulative person who I didn’t like very much, so I shut it down. I may have gone too far in the other direction (as in, I really try not to cry in front of my husband EVER because I feel like tears would manipulate him), but I’m really glad that I learned other ways to cope with not getting my way.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          Sometimes it’s appropriate to cry. It’s a release that we all need from time to time, and doesn’t mean we’re trying to manipulate anyone. Just something for you to think about.

      4. The Real Ash*

        Oh my god yes. My boyfriend’s sister is like this all the time. She learned at a young age that if she whines and complains about something, that someone else will step in and do it for her. Now that she’s an adult, she does this to her fiancée, who has learned that it’s easier to just do X task than it is to “fight back” or make her do whatever herself. She can function just fine on her own, but if there is anyone around at all (like if we come over to visit), then she becomes completely incapable of doing anything, carrying groceries, going shopping, getting up and getting things for herself, taking care of her own pets, etc. It’s so pathetic.

        (Total side rant but it pisses me off as a woman to see another woman act so helpless whenever there is a man around. I’ve never seen her do this to another woman, just men. Ugh!)

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          There’s a project manager I worked with once who was similar. Not crying, but she learned that if she acts coquettish, and just keeps pushing, other people will do her job for her.

          She was surprised when it didn’t work on me. Then she decided I was mean and tried to start reporting me to her manager for “embarrassing her,” I kid you not. For the record, I outrank both her and her manager in seniority.

          I sent her manager a private email saying, “I trust you to deal appropriately with this situation.” Which, apparently, happened, because the junior shaped up.

          1. Mallory*

            OMG — acting coquettish! One of the directors of our school does this all the time. I am so glad that our current interim dean is a woman, because it has stopped her in her tracks.

            Interim dean (when she first started): “I don’t think she realizes that I’m a woman and that coquettish shit doesn’t work on me. Well, she’s about to find out.”

      5. Jillociraptor*

        Yes, and I think also they need to be provided with a model or a strategy for how to act differently. I think a lot of women unfortunately learn this behavior because they’re talked over, not listened to, or not taken seriously. When you don’t have a lot of faith that your needs will be met by saying them directly, or that you’ll be heard when you share your ideas, you find other methods. This is an inappropriate one, but even if she’s just doing it “for attention,” she has needs that she doesn’t know how to meet.

        Frankly, she probably knows it’s inappropriate, but unless she has an alternate strategy that meets her needs (or potentially more insight into why her needs are out of alignment with what can reasonably be provided in a workplace), it’s really unlikely that you can compel her to change.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, this is really well put. I also suspect that she may believe that the fact other people aren’t crying as much as she is supports her theory that she’s more wronged than other people, because she hasn’t figured out that emotions don’t always mean public display.

        2. oh baby*

          I think a lot of women unfortunately learn this behavior because they’re talked over, not listened to, or not taken seriously. When you don’t have a lot of faith that your needs will be met by saying them directly, or that you’ll be heard when you share your ideas, you find other methods.

          Wow. This….is so spot on and explains my childhood/early adulthood behavior. I like to think that I’m more professional/more put together in social situations now but……it’s pretty sad.

          amazing the gems I can find here……

    3. Anonsie*

      Agreed. It’s likely not even be for the purpose of getting her way (since it crops up so often in pretty neutral settings) but because she doesn’t have another way to cope.

      In that same vein, I think there’s a good chance that there’s something else going on in her life that’s put her on such an edge that she’s crumbling like this as well. Has she always done this? I might just be life phase changes, even, if taking the job was part of a shift for her.

    4. Angora*

      Does your company offer an Employee Assistance Program? You can require her to make an appointment to address this issue; because if she doesn’t get it under control she’ll be out of a job.

      As AAM recommended tell her to go home when she cannot control it; and make her use her PTO … do not allow her to make-up the time by working extra hours.

      I agree it’s most likely a learned manipulative tool; but there may be an underlying mental illness. Be sure to document everything … if she thinks everyone is picking on me she may be the type to file a lawsuit when she’s terminated. Just get your ducks in a row.

  2. BEEN THERE*

    Maybe she is depressed and needs some medical help. Does your healthcare have a Mental Health Option. I would point her in that direction.

    1. Bea W*

      This is certainly a possibility. In addition to Allison’s advice, it couldn’t hurt to refer her to the EAP if it’s offered. I’d approach it in a generic non-diagnostic way though since you can’t actually know the cause. It could be depression, her personality or that she knows no other way to cope with differences of opinion or she’s a full on drama queen. How long has this been going on? Has she always behaved this way? Unless she’s 4 years old, it’s just really bizarre to act this way.

      1. YoungProfessional*

        I’d go a step further and recommend the OP give her a list of healthy coping strategies. I was given something similar in college (I was very sensitive prior to moving to NY) and I still use it.

        1. fposte*

          Though I think the manager needs to avoid seeing the employee’s emotions as the manager’s problem to solve. It’s fine to offer a direction to the EAP and a note about the wellness resources for dealing with stress, but it’s important that this is a performance problem and ultimately the solution is the employee’s responsibility.

          1. LizNYC*

            Maybe in the scope of the larger conversation Alison suggested above, if the employee says “she can’t help crying,” the manager could reply “then maybe you need to see a medical professional about this.” (And not go any further about WHICH medical professional. A primary care physician would be able to refer to a psychologist/therapist/psychiatrist.)

            1. Bea W*

              Great response and not just because it’s not specific but because there are other medical conditions that can cause depression or emotional lability or even medications used to treat unrelated conditions.

              Related to that, anyone who suspects they may have developed a mental health condition should get a physical workup whether or not they decide to seek counseling.

          2. D*

            Exactly. To put it bluntly, these people can suck the life out of everyone else…while all of the attention is focused on them and their ‘needs.’ Plus, it’s not fair to the rest of the team, who manage to keep their emotions in check.

            1. bullyfree*

              That is so true. It is not fair to her co-workers or to the business to be constantly held hostage by her emotions. (I worked with someone who had multiple personality disorders and her emotional outbursts were draining to deal with.) Allowing her to do this without consequences is not fair to her either. If she is truly suffering with illness, she needs to take time off to get well and balance her brain chemistry in order to be able to work without disrupting the workplace. Seriously, no one would put up with someone yelling , swearing, or throwing things so no one should be forced to put up with her crying and paranoia. If she is doing this on purpose to control the work dynamic and attention then telling her it needs to stop or else she will be terminated should work immediately. I’ve seen fakers switch off and on and if their job is on the line they suddenly act all normal. (But then they become passive aggressive)

          3. J-nonymous*

            I think instead of the OP presenting a list of healthy coping strategies, or recommending professional help, the OP could tell the employee that she needs to manage her emotions and what strategies might the employee suggest to do that? (The OP may very well have some set ideas in mind, e.g., employee excuses herself if she begins to feel she cannot contain her emotions, employee stops complaining to a general audience about being singled out when something goes wrong). The employee may herself suggest that she get some sort of assistance, at which point the OP could provide information about any kind of employee assistance program the company offers (if it does offer it).

            Foremost, though, for any good feedback is clear expectations from the OP to the employee about what behaviors the employee must change.

        2. Observer*

          As a manager, I think I would stay away from that. A generic “maybe you should have this evaluated by a professional or work with a coach on coping and communications skills” type of comment would be good, as would be pointing her to resources. But, I’m not convinced that it’s a good idea for a manager to become that coach in this type of scenario.

          1. sunny-dee*

            This, especially if the employee is using it manipulatively. Trying to coach and mentor her out of this just gives her a really strong connection that she can leverage even more.

          2. Jamie*

            Even this – I’m sorry I keep harping on this and I will stop – I’m just nervous someone will do this and lose their job.

            Suggesting to an employee who is constantly crying at work that maybe they should be evaluated by a professional steps outside the line of what is okay.

            You manage the behavior – which may mean firing if it doesn’t change – but you cannot suggest they have a medical or mental health issue and yes, if I was crying at work and someone said maybe I should have that evaluated by a professional that’s exactly how I’d take it.

            And work has no business suggesting coaching for communication skills unless that is a workplace thing …but communication skills in that it means stop crying so much and being a victim and annoying everyone? Those aren’t workplace skills, they are personal issues.

            I’ll stop posting on this, but you guys cannot open the door to inquiry or speculation about their personal issues especially health and mental health.

            It’s nice that people care, but they aren’t your friends or family – there are rules governing how you address this with employees. The only part of this that is any of your business as an employer is the behavior as it impacts the workplace.

            1. GrumpyBoss*

              Thank you for posting this. I used to work with someone who was bipolar and would go on insane manic episodes. We were given very clear lines that could not be crossed by HR. From what I learned from that situation, many of these suggestions to use EAP may get you in a heap of trouble.

              I would strongly advise the OP to engage with her HR team for any messaging to be sent here.

              1. LD*

                Depending upon the situation, you can require that an employee go to the EAP. When someone’s behavior or performance has deteriorated or does not meet expectations (and you must have already communicated clear and specific expectations), AND you have had prior discussion with the employee about whether they are willing and able to meet those expectations (they have the skills, experience, knowledge, or have demonstrated through previous good performance) but they still do not meet the behavior and performance standards agreed to, then you can have a conversation about a referral to the EAP. You must keep the conversation specific and factual about their behavior and performance, “You’ve been late on these 10 dates…” not “You are too lazy to get to work on time.” You can say that you want to offer them an opportunity to get help to improve the situation and offer or require them to see the EAP. State laws vary, but in my state, an employee can be required to go to an EAP appointment made by their organization (typically HR) during their normal work hours or face termination. It’s a last resort sometimes to helping an employee deal with their issues and get themselves back on track.

            2. anon*

              I agree. I have a severe anxiety disorder and some other personal issues. Sensitivity is wonderful but at the end of the day, it’s my responsibility, not my manager’s.

              1. Angora*

                Couldn’t the manager give her timeline to get this under control? I know with the university if there is a personal issue that someone has; that’s disruptive at work they can require them to go to EAP to learn to curtail the behavior at work and/or develop coping skills. Tell her if this doesn’t change by said date … that each time she disrupts the office it will be documented; and that her job is at risk.

                This is one of these where the individuals poor behavior outweighs what they give to the organization. You can also look at the volume or lack of that she puts out compared to her co-workers … unless her behavior is making everyone produce or perform less.

                1. ella*

                  Giving her a timeline feels icky to me. IF she has a mental illness, she cannot help it, any more than she could help it if she had mono or got hit by a bus and had to spend months in rehab. If she has an illness (big if), and if she goes and gets evaluated by a professional (more big if), it will take an unknown period of time to get evaluated, find a medical team that she gets along with (possibilities include a physician, a therapist, a psychiatrist…if she’s getting weepy because of some hormonal or other condition, there’s other professionals), decide on a treatment plan, learn about and begin to master some concrete behavioral and coping skills…none of that can be timed for certain. If she starts taking medication, there’s nothing that says that the first med she tries will be the one that works for her. You have to give it a few months and evaluate, and then maybe try another one. And giving her a deadline will amp up her anxiety about it and make her more likely to fail.

                2. fposte*

                  Unfortunately, if her behavior isn’t going to stop for months, she’s probably out of a job, because it’s clear she’s quite a disruption and it needs to stop regardless of its cause. Timelines are part and parcel of your standard PIP, and it’s unrealistic and unfair to other employees to expect the workplace to put up with this kind of disruption without any kind of end date in sight.

                3. anon*

                  I’m not sure about this. There isn’t a set timeline for recovery from mental illness (if she has it). And if her behavior’s this disruptive now, why wait weeks or months to see if it improves?

                  I think a manager could reasonably tell her to cut out the manipulative behavior, excuse herself when she’s very upset, and make these changes now.

            3. Bea W*

              My thinking is in practice you tell the employee what behavior us unacceptable in the workplace and what has to change and remind her the EAP is available as a resource for whatever she needs to pull it together at work and leave that portion at that. I agree the manager needs to manage the behavior but if in discussing it with the employee you get a sense that some generic reminder of available company benefits would be beneficial i think it can be mentioned in a generic way.

        3. Natalie*

          I don’t think the manager should do this. It’s unlikely she’s qualified to determine exactly what’s going on here or provide effective counseling support – the strategy to deal with narcissism is a lot different than depression, for example. The best tack is to refer this employee to the EAP, which can refer her to a qualified professional.

      2. amaranth16*

        Agree very much. Unless this is a manipulation tactic (which it’s probably not given how strongly it’s backfiring), this person sould use help developing better coping mechanisms. I would gently suggest that she see a counselor.

    2. jmkenrick*

      Yeah – while I agree with Alison’s advice, I think there’s nothing wrong with also directing her to perhaps speak to a professional…this is a weird amount of crying.

      This might be TMI, but when my doctor first put me on birth control I had a similar response – could cry at the drop of at hat. (I felt more embarrassed than “wronged,” but nonetheless I CAN sympathize to crying being an involuntary reaction in response to something physiological. As soon as we changed dosages, the problem stopped.

      1. TL*

        All of my suitemates in college went crazy on one type of birth control or other – I switch merrily from brand to brand without any trouble but all three of them found one brand that was just crazy-making. One cried, another did crazy rage-fits with her boyfriend and a third just went completely off the rails.

        1. Melissa*

          That’s been my experience, too. There was one particular brand that I was only on for about 2-3 months because I was an absolutely emotional wreck. I’m not a crier at all, but it made me cry and get angry, sometimes simultaneously for absolutely no reason. TERRIBLE.

          I also had this experience when I donated eggs two summers ago. That one was just the “completely off the rails” category. My moods swung violently from one day to the next – I would literally wake up in the morning and think “I wonder how I am going to feel today?”

          It was a very strange summer.

      2. Serin*

        I used to get much weepier when I was premenstrual, and then I had about a year at the menopause point when I cried every single day — my family and I called it “the daily tears.” There really are physical things that make it more difficult to handle frustration and avoid tears.

        There is, however, nothing physical that makes it necessary to blame your co-workers for things that don’t go your way, and there’s a big difference between “Excuse me — having some difficulties this morning — be back in a second” and “You always assign me the horrible work! You all gang up on me!”

      3. Observer*

        If someone had said anything to you about it would you have JUST said “I can’t help it” or would you have said “This is not like me, and I’m trying to figure out what’s going on?”

        As Allison pointed out, while it’s possible that the weepiness really is involuntary, the cloak of victimization is totally not. And, that may be part of the reason people feel bullied. Whether she can control the tears or not, it seems clear that she is using them to beat everyone over the head with their terribleness.

        1. jmkenrick*

          I absolutely agree with you – claiming to be wronged is not really something I would have done. I was pretty embarrassed and confused about the uptick in crying. (Took a big for the symptom to set in, so I didn’t realize at first it was the pill, I thought I was just going nuts.)

          But I more bring it up because I hear a lot of the commentators sounding a bit combative with the employee, and I don’t think that’s the best mindset to have when OP discusses the issue with her.

          As long as OP makes it clear she’s not going to tolerate the crying/victimhood behavior, then it should have the same result…IMO it’s helpful to approach someone’s excessive behavior with ideas about how/why a reasonable person might exhibit that behavior.

      4. Jamie*

        Yeah – that’s what I was alluding to when I mentioned medications causing hair trigger tears.

        However, when that was happening to me my response wasn’t to blame other people – it was “really? I’m crying over THIS? The hell?!” and called my doctor for a change.

        So sure – just tears she’s trying to control are one thing – but the victimization is a whole seperate issue.

        1. sunny-dee*

          Yeah, this. I went on BC right before I got married, and I had weird mood things going on — anxiety, waking up in the middle of the night, depression, occasionally tears (which is very unusual for me). The first month, I thought it was the stress from work, the wedding, buying a house, moving to a new city. After the second month, I said, “screw it, this isn’t me,” and just took myself off it. Within two weeks I was back to normal. Normal for me, that is.

          The point is, as other people said, if it is medicine or a medical condition, the employee would be feeling weird to herself. It would stick out to her more than anyone, and that doesn’t seem to be the case.

          1. jmkenrick*

            “The point is, as other people said, if it is medicine or a medical condition, the employee would be feeling weird to herself. It would stick out to her more than anyone, and that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

            Well, your first sentence is absolutely true. But I take issue with your second statement – it doesn’t seem to be the case, but we have only a brief letter to judge upon. I don’t think we should be encouraging OP to see her employee as manipulative or crazy – we should just encourage OP to address the issue in a straightforward manner.

            Either way, she should produce the same result. But if this IS the employee dealing with something, OP will feel much better if she took a more compassionate route. And if she approaches the situation with the sense that this person is trying to manipulate her, that might come across. Intentionally, or not.

            I guess I just don’t see the advantage in maligning the crying employee.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I don’t think she has to be a villain. I think even if she’s got no medical reason it’s not likely to be a conscious manipulation that leaves her skipping home with glee after–I think at the very least she’s pretty unhappy.

              And in general kindness is appropriate when dealing with anyone; it just isn’t at the expense of firmness, or kindness to the people this worker is also making unhappy.

              1. sunny-dee*

                The OP is the one who said this is a serious disruption, that the other coworkers are feeling manipulated and bullied, that this is behavior that occurs frequently over trivial things that don’t go her way. That is a horrible effect on the company, and it is something that has to be dealt with, regardless of the cause.

                The underlying question is whether this woman is intentionally behaving this way or is in some kind of medical/mental health crisis. My point — as with several other posters — was simply if this is a medical issue, it would be apparent to the woman as a problem. And it doesn’t appear that that is the case, since she is blaming other people rather than being upset at her own emotional state.

                I never said she was “skipping with glee” or even a happy person, and that’s very much a strawman argument. It’s entirely possible to point out (either here or as her manager), that this is something she is choosing to do and do it kindly.

      5. Anna*

        I think that’s the thing though. Being in a weird spot because of hormones you usually can tell what’s what and are able to mitigate it, at least after the first time it happens. That the employee claims she is being “wronged” says to me this is something else.

  3. BadPlanning*

    I agree with Alison’s mistrust of “can’t help it” — if the OPs coworker couldn’t help the water works, I would expect her to tell others to ignore her tears. Like “Oh geez, sorry, I well up at the drop of a hat, but please ignore it. Anyway, I think we need to discuss the deadline of Project Z.”

    1. Juli G.*

      I am like this. I can tear about things fairly easily but I’m 1) pretty good at masking it and 2) never address it as more than “Oh, I’m fine. What’s the plan for Q2?” Believe me, if you AREN ‘T using it as a way of manipulation, you wouldn’t draw attention to it because it’s embarrassing and undermines your credibility.

      1. Kristen*

        Yes! Being an easy crier really stinks and the LAST thing I’d want someone to think is that I felt wronged or needed special treatment.

        1. dawbs*

          YES.
          I am both an easy crier and an angry crier. I’m working on it. I’ve improved but I’m still working on it. (unfortunately, my migraines and their meds make it somewhat worse. Chances are, if I’m having a REALLY crap day, I’m either in a lot of pain [which breaks down filters and makes me want to cry without anything else going on] or medicated in order to function –and meds remove some of the self-control and ‘social filter’. That’s just the way it is. My boss is in the ‘needs to know’ so is somewhat aware that I”m not myself on those days–no one else needs to know because it gets them to far up into my business–I don’t need to explain my chronic medical issues to everyone I deal with)

          The last thing I want is sympathy (which makes me cry more) or to be told to knock it off (if I could I would)–really, I wish it wasn’t happening, I don’t want a comment on it. Just hand me a tissue (or pretend not to notice as I find mine) and ignore it–if *I* can ignore the tears sliding down my face and speak as if they’re not there, you can too.

          I know the OP here isn’t quite dealing with ‘my’ issue, but, honestly, pretending the tears aren’t happening works for me in the situation described too. Because it’s working under the polite fiction that of COURSE no one would be crying unless they couldn’t control it, therefore, this employee must be unable to control it–and in a workplace, we pretend pointless tears don’t exist.

      2. Mallory*

        Exactly. I can be like this sometimes, too. If I hear something at work that I feel tenderhearted about, I will well up and might have to go to the bathroom to cry. But I don’t want anybody to notice it.

        A few examples of things that have made me tear up at work:

        — A visiting scholar from South Africa described in heart-wrenching detail how lonely it is for non-Americans to stay in hotels, and how in his country they take people into their homes. He made our hospitality sound so lacking in comparison to what would be offered to a guest in his country that the poignancy of the gap just got me. My boss thinks he was trying to make some sort of play for me. Well, it didn’t “get” me like that — it just made me really tearful and that’s all.

        — Another professor was describing taking a group of 5th-year students (we are a 5-year professional program) from another department to visit some firms during their last semester before graduating. The other department isn’t as rigorous as ours, and the professor described witnessing the students’ realization that they were woefully unprepared to apply for work at these competitive firms. They hadn’t realized before that their education was lacking, and it was too late. I almost had to leave the faculty meeting to go cry in the bathroom.

        1. Celeste*

          This happens to me when I hear emotional stories, too. It doesn’t even have to be in person. I read a blog post where a nurse was saying an aide who just graduated with a nursing degree wasn’t getting any interviews. She asked her where she had graduated from– an unaccredited for-profit university, which she financed with predatory loans. No hospital can accept those degrees.

          Yeah. No words.

        2. Jamie*

          I am clearly a heartless monster, but I’ve cried at work a couple of times – maybe 2-3, and each time it was because I was so furious I didn’t know what to do. Each time it was when I wanted more than anything to storm out in a spectacular blaze of “and let me tell you another thing…” but choosing not to commit career suicide left me feeling trapped and frustrated beyond words.

          Anger will trigger tears for me WAY faster than emotion.

          1. Anna*

            I firmly believe that anger is a secondary emotion. You don’t tend to feel angry first; it’s usually something else. Fear, disappointment, hurt feelings, followed by anger. (Think of all those parents whose kids do something that frightens them and they yell at their kids. They’re usually angry their kid made them feel that fear.)

            1. Jamie*

              That’s the case sometimes, but sometimes it’s just anger.

              I have found that on the few times I’ve cried at work that some people have immediately tried to soothe me and tell me not to feel bad about X because it wasn’t my fault, and not to let Y hurt my feelings.

              I had to explain that I wasn’t hurt at all – I was pissed. I can certain cry over hurt feelings, but it’s never happened at work because I’m not emotionally vested in a way that makes it personal.

              Maybe I’m an outlier, but I can absolutely be angry as a primary emotion.

              1. spocklady*

                Jamie, I’m a rage cryer too. I think sometimes for me it has to do with those other emotions, but sometimes not.

                Anna that’s interesting to think about – I’ve also heard that it can go the other way. That is, maybe I’m mad about something, but for whatever reason I don’t feel like I can be mad, or that being mad about this thing is acceptable. So it rolls around in my head until it comes out as sad instead. What you said makes a lot of sense too though.

                Seriously, feelings are weird.

          2. Mallory*

            I sometimes put the F in INFP. I can’t help it, but I don’t have to make other people wallow in it with me. I’ve also experienced the kind of frustrated, angry tears you’re talking about. If anyone noticed or commented while I was having those kind of tears, it would just make me cry more because then I would be 1) angry about the original thing, 2) angry that my emotions were out of control, and 3) frustrated that I couldn’t get my emotions under control even with people noticing.

          3. Bea W*

            Frustration does it for me. My eyes just flood. I may not even get to a full sniveling cry and so it’s double weird while i may be otherwise talking or sitting quietly listening whilst my face turns into niagra falls.

        3. PucksMuse*

          It’s so embarrassing when that happens, but sometimes it can’t be helped. When I was a newspaper reporter, I was covering a really horrific story involving a child’s death and in the middle of an interview with a coroner, I broke down in tears. Just awful racking sobs and ugly crying. It took me a couple of seconds to compose myself. The coroner very politely handed me a tissue and even though I was mortified, told me not to be embarrassed, that this poor child deserved to have someone cry for him, and it was just a sign that I was human.

          1. Turanga Leela*

            What a classy response. And BTW, crying in that situation is totally understandable.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Police cry in the same situation, for the same reasons.

            I’d bet that coroner cried, too.

            Thank you for covering that story. The child’s story needed to be told, even after the fact.

            1. Mallory*

              Indeed. My neighbor’s son has always been a good, sweet young man. His older sister is a police sargeant, and he joined the force, too, when he was old enough. He had to quit, though, because he could’t stand all the first- hand knowledge of people’s inhumanity to one another.

        4. Wren*

          My crying trigger is when humanity is awesome! I well up at every hero story in the newspaper, and even good news about the public library system.

          1. ella*

            Any story or video that involves a soldier returning from war and hugging his child for the first time in a year makes me BAWL. I have no experience with an absent parent or a child in the army. They aren’t personally resonant stories. They just have such honest and powerful emotions in them.

          2. TheSnarkyB*

            I have the same thing, but sometimes it gets REALLY out of control. I love that dog food commercial with the soldier coming home and the huge matching wolfhound pouncing on her but for a couple months after I saw it, I cried at every dog commercial. I think it was hormones or something because everyone around me just thought i was NUTS. I would really be there sobbing in front of the TV wailing “She wants the best for him!” about any given owner and dog. #nocornmeal

            1. TheSnarkyB*

              Hahaha apparently putting hashtags in comments puts them in automatic moderation. There’s an effective way to squelch an obnoxious habit :D

      3. Jamie*

        This. If it was just the tears and she was mortified and trying to deal with it I’d lean toward this being a medical issue or some kind of mental health problem. Some medications, hormonal issues, electrolyte imbalances can really affect people’s mood and cause hair trigger crying.

        But the histrionics accompanying it make me lean toward manipulation and just habit.

        But it doesn’t really matter which is it, since the answer is the same whether it’s organic or deliberate. Address that it’s a problem for the office and tell them what needs to change. If then they state that there is a medical or mental issue they are dealing with that’s when the paths diverge and you discuss their options via FMLA or however you handle medical problems in your company.

      4. Rat Racer*

        +1000 here. That’s why I find this so sad. This person is either trying to be manipulative or she’s got a serious problem. Even if it’s the former, what a tremendously ineffective way to get what you want in an office setting. Whoever heard of someone building their career by crying their way to the top? I feel badly for everyone in the OP’s letter: the OP, her crying employee, and everyone else in that conference room.

        1. sunny-dee*

          If I had to guess, though, that kind of person isn’t trying to build a career. She probably wants to hit a certain, comfortable level and stay there with a minimum of effort and a maximum of perks.

            1. Rat Racer*

              Is it really though? I mean, we are hypothesizing that if the crier is manipulative, they are either misguided about effective ways to climb the corporate ladder, or per Sunny-Dee, looking for a comfy plateau.

              The harsh part is assuming that the crying is intentional, and on that point I could be convinced either way. But there’s no faster way to lose respect in the workplace than crying in public. And I say that as someone whose tear-ducts are hard-wired to her limbic system. I wish it were not so…

              1. Lily in NYC*

                Hm. I’ve been thinking about this. To me, what is harsh is that it implies that there’s something wrong with not having high ambitions and saying that only a certain “type” of employee feels like this. Major negative connotations. Hey, a life of comfort and perks without working hard sounds fabulous to me! There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to rise to the top of the career ladder. Not everyone defines themselves by their job.

                1. sunny-dee*

                  I was responding to the previous person who said that that’s not a way to advance a career. Which is 100% correct — it isn’t a way to advance your career, to improve your professional reputation, or anything. What I was saying was *if* this person is indeed doing this manipulatively, career advancement probably isn’t her goal. Her goal is probably to make her job easier, which is a very different priority.

                  (And I say that without a value judgment on that goal. I actually have no ambition to advance in the corporate hierarchy. I like what I do. I would be entirely content to stay at this level and keep doing what I’m doing because that is a good choice for me and my family. Other people feel differently, and I trust that they’re making the best decisions for them and their situations.)

      5. Emily*

        Me too. So I really take issue with people who use tears so manipulatively! I only WISH I had more control over my tear ducts. I would use that power for good, not evil!

      6. Marie*

        YES THIS. I used to be an easy crier (thankfully, it somehow went away-ish near the end of my twenties), and I would either try to flee the scene ASAP so I could collect myself because I was so embarrassed, or, as I got older, I learned to say, “I’m really not as upset as this makes me seem. I literally cry at allergy commercials. So I guess now you know why I don’t wear eyeliner.”

        And, of course, my crying was separate from feeling “wronged.” I mean, I guess I might cry if I was feeling wronged, but I would also cry if put on the spot, or feeling out of my depth, or watching bad TV. After I was done crying, I’d figure out some way to address whatever had made me cry. The crying was just an unfortunate speed bump on the way to handling the thing that made me cry.

    2. Zahra*

      Yeah, I can well up fairly easily too in some kinds of situations (tired and/or angry, mostly). What I actually do is tell the other person “I am tired (and/or angry) and that means I may cry. Please ignore it and let us discuss the issue.”

    3. Leah*

      I totally do this. More when I’m feeling frustrated than when I’m sad, in fact. I have been known to joke, “Ugh, spring a leak again! Just ignore it and it’ll go away.” Seriously, when I get weepy and someone snaps into concerned mode, it just gets worse. If I try to stop it, it gets worse.

      1. Kate M*

        Me too!!! OMG I don’t cry that easily when I’m sad, but VERY easily when I’m frustrated. I think I’ve probably cried on the phone with customer service people more than I have in front of anyone else. But yeah I try to keep it under wraps and its really annoying, it just comes so easily when I’m frustrated.

        1. Mary*

          This! I’m sure customer service people are alarmed when I start crying, but if they are frustrating to work with, they will get cried at.

        2. Turanga Leela*

          I have held back tears at the DMV and in airport security. Bureaucracy > tragedy when it comes to crying.

      2. BritCred*

        Yep, done that and “ok, body and mind aren’t quite in agreement….. I’m fine really!” and then pop a chewy sweet. I’ve even been known to take a tube of chewy sweets into a personal meeting to help control it.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Sometimes making a joke helps the tears to get under control quicker. It’s an acknowledgement and a distraction all the same stroke.

    4. manybellsdown*

      Yes, I will sometimes tear up if I am very angry. I hate it and I can’t help it, and I certainly go out of my way to avoid doing it. Really, who wants to be that stereotype of the “too emotional and irrational woman”?

  4. KarenT*

    OP, I feel your pain. I have a co-worker who is exactly, exactly the same. Frequent crying, always talking about being wronged, and the occasional hissy fit. It’s a nightmare, and it’s wreaking havoc on those around her.

    1. Mallory*

      The only thing worse than a co-worker’s frequent crying or “poor me-ing” is when it works on the boss.

      We’ve had at least two women who could get the former dean wrapped their finger just by going into his office and over-sharing about tough childhoods/marriages and crying about it to him. They achieved the status, with him, of “too fragile and delicate not to get their own way” and everyone else was expected to tiptoe around them.

      OP, please don’t be like that with the delicate flower in your office. It is completely demoralizing to the rest of the staff. We always thought, “Well, gosh, I’ve had a tough [childhood/marriage/whatever], too, but I never thought to parlay that into a trump card for always getting my way at work . . . “

      1. KJR*

        This reminds me of an incident that occurred a few years ago…one of our managers was doing a performance review with a problem employee, who needed to improve in several areas. I had worked with him on what to say, and how to say it…which apparently didn’t stick, because she started to cry and instead of addressing her performance issues, she came out with a raise!! I couldn’t believe it.

        1. bullyfree*

          When bad or manipulative behavior is rewarded, it continues and often gets worse. Unfortunately some managers do not understand this until far to late. The employee does good enough work to be convincing but often not as good as their co-workers yet- still get a raise or promotion. I’ve seen monsters created and they are so hard to get rid of after they have received actual awards.

      2. Vancouver Reader*

        That’s what’s frustrating about it, is that there are people out there who continue to condone this behaviour and therefore, intentionally or not, people use it as a means to get what they want.

      3. oh baby*

        What do you think of people who do this in social/non-professional situations?

        I once had a friend who always used her tough life and upbringing to be very possessive manipulative and controlling. After that relationshit I don’t know how I would ever ever ever tolerate it from a coworker.

        But FWIW, I did cry at my last job, with way more frequency than I’m comfortable to admit. Sometimes it was bc of work, sometimes it was personal stuff…..and sometimes it was just because the weather was so shitty then. and sometimes it was a douchebag client.

        1. Mallory*

          I still think it’ s an egocentric crappy thing to do even in social situations. The world does not owe anyone a “get your own way in perpetuity” card for their previous misfortunes.

        2. Vancouver Reader*

          After a certain age, you can decide what you want to do with your life despite your imperfect upbringing. You can either use it as a crutch, or you can rise above it.

          I think we’ve all had situations where we feel compelled to cry at work, but we don’t all feel the need to bring it to the attention of our co-workers and make them uncomfortable.

      4. Cassie*

        I have a coworker who lashes out at people, but the boss says “oh, she had a tough childhood, that’s why she acts like that”. So what, the rest of us with not-as-tough childhoods have to put up with it? Ugh, no.

        The fact is nobody really knows what kind of personal stuff people have gone through or are going through. Letting people use it as an excuse to behave badly is just so wrong.

  5. Celeste*

    I’ve known people who have become really emotional at work a time or two, even dissolving into tears. But it’s been over fairly high-stakes times of pressure. It’s not weekly, it’s not constant, and most of all it’s not normal.

    (Is it just me, or is anybody else wondering what it would be like if she’d gone to the interview in this letter? https://www.askamanager.org/2014/06/i-was-asked-to-pick-up-someones-lunch-when-i-arrived-for-a-job-interview.html )

    She needs to be dealt with, and I like AAM’s ideas which involve some level of “get out”. When a young child is having a tantrum like that, you send her to her room. It essentially causes her not to have an audience, which is a key to ramping down the behavior.

    It’s really sad that she has been allowed to get this far in life playing this game; I’m certain it’s not a new thing with her. I am guessing she is nowhere near a top performer, and if you have to let her go, it’s not going to be a great loss.

    1. Lizabeth*

      LOLOLOLOL I just snorted coffee on that one…

      I’d pay money to see that happen…teehee!

    2. Chinook*

      “When a young child is having a tantrum like that, you send her to her room. It essentially causes her not to have an audience, which is a key to ramping down the behavior.” I agree 100%. This is also the reason students often are asked to leave a room when they are disruptive and the discussion about their behaviour is best done in the hall. When you remove the audience, you remove the need/desire to play for it and cut out a lot of b.s. Unfortunately, if the audience includes the boss, then only the boss can decide not to buy and instyead remove herself from the crier.

    3. Melissa*

      Plus it has the bonus that if she really can’t control it, it gives her the space from everyone else she needs to calm down.

  6. Katie*

    IMO, sounds like someone is very spoiled and used to getting her way. I am amazed at how many people don’t know how to act in an office environment.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      Right?!?! It seems to be a common theme these days.

      I’m from the school of STFU and do your work. Awesome results is the best revenge on someone if you are truly “wronged”.

      1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        Want to subscribe to my newsletter, “A Little Repression Is Good Quarterly?”

          1. ZSD*

            Oh, that’s brilliant. I try really hard not to be passive-aggressive, but that would be SO tempting.

            1. Mallory*

              Right? And sometimes the comments section on this blog are so overwhelmingly pithy on any given issue that I’ve wished I were a worse person so I cold print them out and lay them on certain coworker’s chairs. I would put a “bless your heart” post- it at the bottom of the last comment.

  7. Malissa*

    I’m torn on this. On one hand I see a drama llama that is doing this for the sheer drama and attention of it all. On the other hand I see a person who maybe has a mental health issue or just hasn’t been taught hope to cope with life in a grown-up adult manner.
    Either way, taking the power away from her when this happens and not rewarding the behavior is a good place to start. I’d throw in a suggestion for counseling or behavior therapy to help with the actual problem.

    1. fposte*

      Both things can be simultaneously true, too. As you suggest, it ultimately doesn’t matter to the manager why she does it, because the disruption isn’t affected by the motive.

    2. jmkenrick*

      Yeah, I’m a big believe in Hanlon’s Razor, and I feel like that is the best perspective with which to approach this issue.

      That way you’re concerned, not combative. But as you say, that doesn’t change the fact that it needs to be addressed and not tolerated.

    3. Chinook*

      Even if the person has a mental health issue, unless she has brought it forward as something that needs to be accomodated at work, she has to get her tears and attitude under control. Having an illness, mental or physical, doesn’t excuse bad behaviour – there are always ways that you can adapt so that your disabilities don’t impact others as greatly (please note, I am not saying it can be 100% mitigated but showing an effort on her part would go a long way on winning the sympathy and empathy of her coworkers).

      For example, I once had a student (a teen) with Tourette’s. I knew his condition and his limiations when it came to controlling it, but I could always tell when he was maybe taking more advantage of it and would remind him to try and focus on a different word than the currently vulgar and insulting one coming out of his mouth. He always smiled at that as if he realized I caught him toeing the line and, suddenly, the word would either change or become quieter.

  8. Katie the Fed*

    Oh, eff this.

    I am sympathetic to crying being a phyiscal reaction to stress that can be tolerated VERY RARELY in the office, but this needs to stop.

    OK, so either she can’t help it or she can. It’s really inconsequential.

    If she can’t help it, that does not mean you have to tolerate it. You’re allowed to have a workplace that isn’t constantly disrupted by someone crying and manipulating her coworkers. If she can’t help it, that’s unfortunate but you’ll need to replace her with a coworker who can meet those standards.

    If she CAN help it (and let’s be real – I’m 99% sure she can) then she needs to get it together, NOW. Again, you and your colleagues are entitled to a workplace free from this kind of drama.

    Where I work, a manager can actually refer an employee to the Employee Assistance Program. As in, I can require they go talk to the EAP if I have serious concerns about their behavior or emotional state (this would usually be done as part of disciplinary steps). Is that an option you have available? On the chance that she is suffering from some serious psychological or emotional issue, it might be worth giving her the chance to address it.

    Otherwise, I would treat it exactly as you would any other disruptive behavior at work. Warn, document, terminate.

    Gah. I can’t even imagine having to deal with this.

    1. Zillah*

      Seriously. A lot of us have said in past threads that we think that occasionally crying at work is understandable, depending on the situation, but this is so far beyond unacceptable it’s ridiculous.

    2. fposte*

      I’m particularly troubled that it sounds like she may be using it to deflect work responsibility, so that co-workers are being presented with the choice of facing her meltdown or fixing/doing her work.

      1. Jamie*

        I did work with someone who did this once, and it worked with one of her bosses. He stopped giving her feedback because anything not glowing would be met with tears. She didn’t do this to me or another person to whom she reported – because we give tissue and time to compose oneself out of the room – but the conversation continued.

        A sure sign it’s controllable is when they only do it when it works.

        Heck, even as a 6 year old I knew this stuff only worked on Dad – mom would just hand you a tissue and remind you that her ears are incapable of understanding whining and crying and to let her know when I was ready to talk calmly.

        Funny that her ears always worked just fine when the crying was due to grief or injury or actual trauma. It was just the manipulative stuff she couldn’t hear. Handy.

          1. Jamie*

            She was. :) It’s funny that twice she turned down and opportunities to throw her hat in the ring for management even when pressed, because as she said – she didn’t become a nurse to trade patients for paperwork.

            And yet tons of how she parented made it way into how I manage. I guess she’s managing after all – just posthumously and by proxy.

            She always used to say she loved her job so much she’d work for free. Yeah, that one didn’t make my playbook. :)

            On the topic of crying, she was a geriatric nurse and did a lot of care with people at the end of their lives. She cried at work – she cried with patients on occasion out of compassion and she cried with their families when they lost their loved ones. Not need a towel crying – but dab with a tissue crying.

            When she died a lot of the patients and coworkers said it was one of the lovely things about her. Doesn’t work for most offices and sure as heck doesn’t translate to IT.

            1. louise*

              Oh geez. Now *I’m* crying at work. What a lucky woman you are to have had such a mom.

              Thanks a lot for ruining my mascara, Jamie!

            2. Chinook*

              I don’t know – letting a tear slip when you help someone fix their computer for the nth time might win you some compassion.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Yup.

      I’m a defender of tears-in-the-workplace not being a nuclear event. Sometimes it happens and I emphatically do not believe a single act of crying is shameful.

      But I also don’t put up with drama llama crap. Regular event coupled with being “wronged”? Nope.

      1. karowen*

        The complaining about being wronged is the sticking point for me here – and it’s what makes me very much think that the employee is doing it very much on purpose.

  9. Kay*

    This is happening more than once a week? That’s highly excessive in my eyes. I know the discussion has been had before of whether crying is ever appropriate at work, but it’s definitely not appropriate that often and with that much commentary about being “wronged”. I know at times things have happened or been said that make me feel like crying, but it doesn’t happen very often and I definitely don’t comment about being “wronged”.

    I really thing AAM is spot on. Having a professional demeanor is a job requirement. If this person can’t maintain that, you’ll need to find someone for the role that can.

  10. Jane*

    It sounds like a fireable offense. I cry at work sometimes but not in front of others and not for no good reason. Pretty common where I work based on talking to my colleagues but we hold it in in front of others because it’s not a professional thing to do. Depression and anxiety are common in my work environment but it’s kind of just something people figure out how to deal with and hope it doesn’t interfere with our productivity too badly. So I am not trying to be cold but I am amazed this person still has a job after consistently acting this way. Surely there are qualified people out there who don’t do this. Quite frankly amazes me when some people (including where I work) are not held to any kind of standards of appropriate behavior but the rest of us are. If she needs professional help, she should get it and hopefully it is covered under the company’s healthcare policy but she needs to take responsibility for herself or be fired.

  11. Betty Jane*

    A narcissist finds everything to be a slight against them. Very manipulative, and the more she doesn’t get her way the more you will see of it.

    1. Lynn*

      Along these lines, if she really is so self-focused that she’s unable to see past herself, it may be helpful or motivating to her to be given the bigger perspective of just how much she is ultimately undermining herself as a person–probably the opposite of what she’s trying to do. Does she fully realize that (1) no one else acts like this, so she seems super weird, (2) she could get much more fulfilling attention from being a superstar who works hard and shakes off little things, and (3) tears that often with that kind of attitude will hinder her professional development?

      But there must be more going on outside of work, too, so the EAP suggestions in the comments above are also spot on.

    2. Paige Turner*

      I thought for sure that you were my old roommate until I noticed that your name is Betty Jane, not Betty-Jane. Hi anyway :)

  12. Annette*

    I can so relate -we have a person just like this in our office! They make it SO uncomfortable for everyone in the office but nothing has been done for years with their unprofessional behavior. I’m not quite sure why people think it’s okay to act this way – spoiled behavior is apparently rewarded now at most work places; that or managers don’t want to confront a problem employee, avoidance issues. *sigh.

  13. Michele*

    Ugh! I had one of those. It drove me and my team crazy. She was incredibly disruptive to everyone and everyone walked on egg shells around her. When she would well up in front of me I would tell her to excuse herself. I managed her of out the company in 4 months. There were other issues other than the crying. Like I said in my previous post if you need to cry go outside! Yes that is a borrowed quote!

    1. PNW*

      Going anon for this because I don’t want it to out me. I have a relative in her late 40’s who is like this and it’s due to some serious mental illness. She is able to keep her emotions under control for short periods of time, but whenever there is the slightest criticism (whether real or perceived), she resorts to behaving like a toddler and cries. It’s as if the part of her brain that controls that behavior stopped developing at about 7 or 8 years old. She claims that she can’t help it and maybe she can’t; either way, it has rendered her practicaslly unemployable for about 20 years now. The last job she had was for a little over a year and she was managed out because of these emotional outbursts.

      It’s sad. This situation reminded me of my relative; I’m not trying to make an armchair diagnosis. Emotional outbursts, whether they be anger or crying or loud singing, are inappropriate in the workplace if they happen on anything more than a very rare basis.

      1. fposte*

        I think you’re appropriately avoiding armchair diagnosis, actually, and bringing up the useful point that it doesn’t have to be deliberate behavior for it to be a problem that’s incompatible with productive employment.

        1. Laura2*

          This is a really good point. There are many people who are practically unemployable not because they’re intentionally bad workers or lazy, rude, etc., but because they don’t have a handle on basic professional norms (which could be anything from figuring out what clothes are appropriate to how to conduct themselves in a meeting). Whether or not it’s their “fault” isn’t important to their boss and coworkers because it’s the result that matters.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, this.

          It could be that she cannot hold down a job. Fortunately, OP does not have to make that call. All the boss needs to do in this case is figure out if the employee can hold THIS job.
          And frankly it sounds like crying worker can’t hold this job.

          “This is what the job is. All the tears in the world are not going to change this job. Employee, you must decide if this job is for you or not. If you decide to keep the job the weekly tears must stop.”

      2. Eden*

        I really hope that something like this is the case here, because once a week!! It’s like a real-life version of the movie Big where there’s a child in an adult’s body.

  14. Allison (not AAM!)*

    Ugh. I’d definitely go with the “ask her to step out” approach. My biggest problem is the “woe is me” talk that goes along with it; I think I’d address that most strongly, letting her know that it’s perceived as bullying and manipulation. SO not fair to the rest of the team.

  15. James M*

    Things that you should probably not do:

    Hand her a packet of tissues when you initiate conversation with her.
    Say “Suck it up, buttercup.” when she starts crying in a meeting
    Give her a nickname like Niagra or Old Faithful

    &#lt;/villainy&#gt;

      1. Anonsie*

        On Skull Island, employees will be made to cry and then provided with elementary school lunch room paper towels.

      2. Dmented Kitty*

        Pah! I’d start bringing colored vials and start collecting her tears while chanting inaudibly. **cackles**

    1. Golden Yeti*

      This totally crossed my mind! It’s like the tales of parents who caught their teen smoking, and then made the kid chain smoke an entire pack of cigarettes in front of the parents until the kid gets sick.

      Obviously, not the best route to go here, but still brings a grinchy smile to my face.

  16. A Dispatcher*

    Full Disclosure – I am a crier and have cried at work – 3 times (though 2 of those involved traumatic calls (unsuccessful CPR on an infant and someone dying while on the phone with me) and I managed to make it off the floor before I lost it). I cry at sad commercials, at TV shows like Grey’s (yes, I know they’re manipulating me, doesn’t seem to matter to my tear ducts), I even well up a bit if someone personally insults me.

    And yet, even to me the crier, what this employee is doing is unacceptable. Even if we take the manipulative aspect out, it’s very disruptive and clearly affecting morale. I like Alison’s advice here and would like to add a ditto to those suggesting EAP. While I’m guessing it’s really likely this behavior is more manipulative than anything else, it may be tied to some issues she needs to work through. I certainly wouldn’t word it so that it sounds mandatory, but you could gently point out that having such an emotional reaction so often is not normal and talking to someone about it may help her. But, prepare for that conversation to end in tears too!

    1. Celeste*

      Oh, Dispatcher. I’m not sure many of us can compare our bad day at work to what can happen to you on a bad day. (((Hugs)))

    2. QualityControlFreak*

      Okay, I am not a crier, but those two calls would’ve got to me too. Bravo for your professional demeanor!

      1. A Dispatcher*

        Thank you very much to both of you (QualityControlFreak and Celeste). It’s a little funny when I think of it, that work numbs me to so much and I usually have very little trouble emotionally processing traumatic calls, but I turn on an the TV and the slightest thing gets to me. I wonder if it’s my mind’s way of processing things. I am fine while at work, but sad stuff during my off/relax time has me welling up like crazy sometimes.

        1. LBK*

          I’m the same way – I don’t have a high stress job like that, but I am about 1000x more likely to cry over something in a TV show than I am about something in real life. I had to quit watching Grey’s because I was crying after almost every episode.

        2. the invisible one*

          It could be less that you’re numbed at work, and more that you *need* to stay calm during traumatic calls in order to do your job. You still feel the feelings, but they get shifted to times when somebody’s life doesn’t depend on you staying calm. Like when watching a TV show.

          1. Celeste*

            Exactly this. Downtime is “safe” time to feel the feelings. It would be unsafe for the callers if you reacted during the moment, so you compartmentalize until a better time.

    3. Jen RO*

      Thanks for the perspective. My ‘crappy day’ at work was nothing comparing to what you must hear on a daily basis.

  17. Purr purr purr*

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate and say that more info is needed. Crying Lady says she can’t help it but maybe it would help if the company found out why she can’t help it and how serious this situation is. For example, when I’m stressed with adrenalin flowing, I cry. I truly can’t help it. I witnessed a car accident today and was bawling my eyes out while giving first aid. I wasn’t upset, it was just the stress of the situation. When I got told off by my boss for something I didn’t do, I cried. Is this the case for Crying Lady?

    Alternatively, her feeling like she’s being wronged may be a sign of depression. In 2013 I was made redundant, my savings rapidly dwindled, I couldn’t find any work because the entire industry was in a slump (still is), my boyfriend broke up with me, and I was feeling lonely because literally all my friends moved away from the area as a result of the industry slump. Any time something went wrong, it felt like a slap in the face from the universe. Perhaps Crying Lady is having personal issues that are affecting her sensitivity levels. Crying this much is totally unprofessional, yes, but some companies would take constant crying seriously and follow up with professional counseling if necessary. Some may say that it’s not the company’s responsibility and maybe that’s a culture different between countries but in the countries I’ve lived in ‘a happy worker is a productive worker,’ and this would be handled in a supportive manner if necessary.

    1. fposte*

      Sure, they can definitely recommend counseling or a doctor’s visit. But it’s not just that she’s crying, it’s that she’s positioning herself as the victim loudly and openly, and she’s doing it in a way that’s a problem for her co-workers. That’s not about a level of sensitivity, that’s an actual behavior.

      1. LBK*

        Eh, I still don’t agree that feeling like a victim is necessarily involuntary either. While in the throes of depression, I definitely felt what Purr purr purr describes – any time anything goes wrong, all you can think is “What did I do to deserve this now?” Even when it’s clearly not your fault, or it’s not serious, or whatever the case may be. When you’re down, even a light nudge feels like a kick.

        That said, either the employee needs to get help so she can cope with this problem, or the OP is well within parameters to fire her. When I was depressed I was making a ton of errors and my attitude sucked – it wasn’t completely my fault, but I was still a bad employee and if I’d let it continue rather than seeking help, I wouldn’t have blamed my manager for firing me.

        1. LBK*

          Sorry – that should say “I don’t agree that feeling like a victim *isn’t* necessarily involuntary”. She may actually feel like a victim, whether it makes sense to anyone around her or not.

        2. Celeste*

          If she has some kind of personality disorder, nothing is going to change for her until she sees that she has a problem that is tripping her up in life, and wants to change. Emotional issues like this can respond to talk therapy, but only if the person can be open to it. Sadly, it’s negative consequences that are what it often takes. I don’t think we do people any favors by not letting them experience natural consequences.

          1. LBK*

            I don’t think we do people any favors by not letting them experience natural consequences.

            Great point. Obvious it’s delicate because when it comes to depression, the natural consequences can be self-harm and suicide, but I think not cutting someone too much slack at work can be one of the things that gets them to accept that they need treatment.

        3. fposte*

          *Feeling* like a victim isn’t strictly voluntary. The behavior where she announces with great frequency that she feels like a victim is. I’m not saying it’s deliberately manipulative, but it’s not involuntary–you can choose to keep your perceived victimhood to yourself, after all.

          And sure, I’m oversimplifying in that actions aren’t neatly voluntary or involuntary, but that’s true for everybody and not just her.

          1. Anonsie*

            But we’re saying, you know, the crying and the bad judgment and the woe is me are both marks of manipulative immaturity *and* serious depression.

            That being the case, the “what is making you act this way” approach may be the safest bet because it has the greatest chance of hitting both This Is Not Normal You Have To Stop for the immature possibility and Do You Need Help for the mental illness possibility.

            1. fposte*

              I think it’s good to allow for all possibilities–and remaining sympathetic in general, because she’s clearly not happy no matter what the cause is. But if you mean asking *her* “What is making you behthis way?”, I’m making the “Danger, Will Robinson!” arm gestures right there. As a manager, I’m on board with pointing her toward help that may be useful because that’s what I know is available, but I don’t need to know the cause of her behavior and can get into legal trouble for asking.

              1. Anonsie*

                I wouldn’t ask that directly in a way that could get into her personal life, no. But to talk about it the way Alison is suggesting here while also having that sort of incredulity, because if it is just bad behavior it can clue her in that this is not helping her and if it’s some sort of sidelines crisis it will also be sympathetic enough that it’s less likely to exacerbate the problem.

            2. Jamie*

              In a work environment the “what is making you act this way” approach is actually quite dangerous.

              You aren’t allowed to ask people about their health status (mental or otherwise) and are as an employer you’re not entitled to the answer of why. You are just entitled to address the behavior.

              Now if they want to talk about a mental health or other health issue they can, and if there are protections afforded to them while they address it that’s fine. But they have to bring it up – asking the reason someone is crying is going to get you into very dangerous waters.

              1. LBK*

                I dunno, I think the employer would be fine to ask “Is there anything going on you’d like to tell me about?” and leaving it at that. That could be a very broad question – whether it’s about other life issues, work stress, whatever. That question doesn’t have to imply “I think you have a mental illness”.

                1. Jamie*

                  I disagree with even asking it in a broad way. If you ask if there is something going on is the implication that if there is it gives the behavior a pass?

                  Or that you’ll help or listen? There would be zero I could say as a manager to help someone if they have depression, are grieving, going through a divorce.

                  I guess my question would be to what end are you asking? If you ask if something is wrong and you still need them to stop the behavior, even if there is something wrong, it just clouds the issue.

                  Certainly respond with compassion and professionalism if they bring it up to you – and point them to resources where appropriate (if you have an EAP or if FMLA is relevant) but just asking to ask? I don’t see how it’s helpful because it could make them feel like it’s okay if there is a good reason.

                  It’s not the employers job to ferret out the reason nor help them through emotional issues – and it’s just a line I’m not comfortable being blurred.

                2. fposte*

                  I think it’s probably legally okay, but I also think a manager needs to be very careful in this situation not to take on therapeutic responsibilities, and that phraseology makes me uneasy.

                3. LBK*

                  Well, speaking from personal experience, I appreciated when my manager asked me if every was okay (I can’t remember the exact wording). I was clearly not acting like myself and it gave me an opportunity to open up a little and let him know that yes, there was stuff going on, but I was in the process of actively trying to make it better.

                  He still went on to say that I needed to improve because my work at this point wasn’t acceptable, but it made me feel more comfortable about taking the time I needed to get better without worrying that I was being judged by the standard of work I had set when I was mentally healthy. And it made it less uncomfortable to tell him I was going to start having weekly doctor’s appointments that I would need to be away from the office for.

                4. iseeshiny*

                  I get what you’re saying but I think the important part there is that you were “clearly not acting like [your]self.” This behavior appears to be the norm for this lady, though, so I don’t know how useful that approach would be.

                5. fposte*

                  @LBK–I think with a change you have a different framework, but even there I think it’s about how you frame the work situation rather than a therapeutically phrased inquiry.

                  That doesn’t mean things have to be ice-cold and that you never get to ask “Are you okay?” of an obviously upset or strained employee. But even if it were perfectly legal for me to ask an employee what caused her behavior, I wouldn’t want to do it because it’s not good management. Opening the door to an employee to share relevant health details is one thing; digging in for information and offering myself as a therapeutic listener is another.

                6. Sadsack*

                  Nope, the employer should be saying, “If there is anything going on that is making you act this way at work, you should seek out an EAP counselor and try to get a handle on whatever it is. I hope it works out for you.” End of personal involvement. The manager cannot become her counselor.

                7. Anonsie*

                  Yeah, I’m not suggesting you start asking if her dog is sick or something. It’s absolutely possible to ask someone why they are having very strange behavior at work without being subject to lawsuits if the reason their behavior is weird is because of a disability… People do it all the time, and there are plenty of examples of this all over AAM.

                  What’s the alternative? If you’re going to talk to her about how she’s crying too much and needs to leave the room if she’s getting upset, it would be very very strange to not ask if there was something *at work* that is causing this. And if there’s nothing to it, at least the approach might make her more receptive and make the whole conversation less likely to turn into a blowout.

                8. fposte*

                  @Anonsie–I’m honestly still not seeing it as something I’d do in this situation, where the behavior happens out in the open and I’ve seen the events that precipitate it, and it doesn’t seem strange to me to focus on the problem of the behavior rather than asking after its cause. It doesn’t have to be a severe or punitive conversation, and if there are subjects she wants to bring up that’s fine, but my goal isn’t to avoid a meltdown, either.

              2. Anonsie*

                I’m not suggesting you ask it in the way you’re interpreting here. If you had someone missing deadlines, you would tell them that needs to stop but you would also ask what they think is causing it and how you could address it, right? You are assuming it’s work related. Similarly, if someone is bursting out crying in meetings or when something goes against them at work, it makes sense to say it needs to stop but also ask what they think is causing it under the assumption that it’s at least partially work related.

                1. fposte*

                  I’m still not on board, I’m afraid. Asking what’s causing a problem is fine if there’s a methodological possibility, but for a straight-out not meeting basic work expectations, like not being able to accept feedback? No, I really am not likely to ask why they haven’t been meeting it unless it’s a sudden development.

          2. LBK*

            Fair enough – she can feel like a victim without opening her mouth to tell everyone about it all the time.

    2. LBK*

      By legal standards, it’s not the company’s responsibility to bring it up. If she’s aware she has some kind of medical condition (physical or mental) that causes this reaction, per the ADA the burden of asking for an accommodation falls on the person with the condition.

      That said, it’s not outside the manager’s scope to give the employee an opportunity to explain herself in a private setting, but if the employee doesn’t do it then the manager has no responsibility to assume there is something else and try to work around it, IMO.

      1. fposte*

        To expand slightly, it’s not just about responsibility–the employer legally *can’t* inquire about a disability.

        That doesn’t mean you can’t mention the possibility of EAPs or medical assistance, but until an employee brings up a disability, it’s not your business.

    3. Purr purr purr*

      I think the responses possibly show the differences in countries and their culture that I was referring to. I’m not saying one method is better than the other, just that the USA seems to be more, ‘We can’t say anything in case we get sued / get into legal trouble,’ whereas the countries I’ve worked in have been more, ‘We need to see if we can help fix this situation and if not we need to figure out how to proceed.’ After all, firing an employee is costly to a company with training up a replacement and the time it takes so if it’s just a case of an employee needing more support during a tough time then the countries I’ve worked in seem more willing to provide that support and it’s usually written into their policies that they will. Then again, I accept that my miserable work experience in the USA might not be representative of all companies and how they would proceed in this situation!

      1. LBK*

        If it’s about supporting her while she gets help, that’s one thing. If she just accepts that this behavior can’t be changed and that’s what she tells the employer, well…

      2. fposte*

        I also don’t think it’s an either/or. I’ve had employees in emotional and other health difficulties, and I think I was at least somewhat helpful to them. But I can’t help fix somebody’s health situation, emotional or otherwise, because that’s not what I know how to do. I can say “We value you, and here’s what we can do for you at the workplace, and let’s discuss workplace expectations in these circumstances.”

        I suspect what complicates things here is that this doesn’t seem to be a valued worker who’s suddenly developed problems but somebody who’s always done this, and it also isn’t presenting as something that could be reasonably accommodated by any definition, let alone the legal, in her current state. I suspect the US is not the only place that would have limited enthusiasm for diving into this problem.

  18. iseeshiny*

    How do you even address this without her crying all over you and complaining about how you’ve wronged her?

    “Jane, I’ve noticed you cry and accuse others of wronging you. I need you to stop doing that. Please take a moment if you need one and engage with others once you’re calm and-”

    “Wah! HOW CAN YOU BE SO MEAN TO ME THIS HAS GOT TO BE ILLEGAL.”

    I just… how do you have a productive discussion? I would probably go the chicken route and send an email, right?

    1. fposte*

      Nope. Hand her a tissue and a glass of water, give her a moment, and tell her that this is exactly the kind of thing you’re talking about and that it has to stop.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      Right. Send an email and then resign because you won’t actually manage your employees.

      Managers who can’t/won’t manage cause more problems than the offending employees.

    3. iseeshiny*

      See, I suppose that’s why they don’t pay me the big bucks. I currently have a coworker who cried and shouted at me (see here: https://www.askamanager.org/2014/04/open-thread-april-25-2014.html#comment-446776 for the story) and I had zero clue what to do or say. She has not spoken one word to me since – the cut direct – I say good morning and she looks the other direction. (Which, ok, I’ll take that any day, because frankly, I don’t want to talk to her anyway, but!) I just have no clue what to do when people behave so erratically/against social and professional norms.

      1. fposte*

        It’s also a heck of a lot tougher when it’s somebody you don’t have authority over. It’s not like you can fire your co-worker or put her on a PIP.

        1. iseeshiny*

          Oh yeah, tell me about it. And our management is known for avoiding just these sorts of confrontations.

          On the bright side, management did change the policy to where we charge employees for skirts and pants, so I won’t have to deal with that exact problem anymore.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Nah, you can’t send an email because you, too, have to suck it up Buttercup.

      Never send an email for any important or semi important employee intervention, never.

      Face to face. Closed door. Start composed and remain composed. Has to be done.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        P.S. I realize now that iseeshiny wasn’t coming at this from an management POV but I have to say, generally, that one of the reasons I sucked at management for such a long time is that I was chickenshit in situations like this.

        The first hundredty times you make yourself do management things the right + hard way, it gets easier the second hundrety times and by the third hundrety times doing things the right way is easier than the chicken way. Is my experience.

      2. iseeshiny*

        Oh, I totally defer to the better judgment of experienced managers. I am terrible at dealing with my own feelings, let alone those of other people, especially when they are expressing them in any way other than, you know, talking calmly. I tend to deer in the headlights whenever there is crying or shouting or yelling happening at me. This makes me look calm in a crisis but really is just a result of me never having a clue what to do.

        I was mostly just imagining an ever expanding cycle of telling someone not to cry, and then they cry more, and then you tell them not to cry, and they cry more… it was supposed to be funny, and also poking fun at myself for not being very brave. No one should take my advice.

  19. KitKat*

    I would lose my freaking mind. I’m all for being supportive if it’s a one-time thing and they’re apologetic, but this is neither of those. I guarantee the only “wrong” she’s getting is being told to do her job. Then its all tears and “everyone is so mean to me and I don’t deserve it”.

    Don’t buy it, OP. Crack down on those waterworks.

  20. Kaz*

    How many of your other employees are considering quitting because they can’t stand this woman?

  21. LBK*

    One thing I think is important to keep in mind while dealing with this is that she will probably start crying when you bring it up, and you need to remain unemotional and move forward with the conversation regardless. As soon as she bursts into tears it’s going to be tempting to get sympathetic and back off making your point – avoid this at all costs. Be as emotionless and stoic as you possibly can. Maybe hand her a tissue, give her about 10 seconds to get any loud sobs out of the way so you don’t have to talk over them, and then keep going.

    This isn’t to say that you can’t be sympathetic if it turns out she has mental health issues or something else, but a) if she’s truly unable to control it, she may still not be right for the job, and b) let her bring that up before you start being sympathetic about it.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Emotionless and stoic- definitely.

      I am not sure what I use to get myself to a place where I don’t react but different things work different times. Sometimes I think about all the times I wanted to cry at work but didn’t, or waited. Sometimes I think about the person’s expectations being unrealistic. Other times I have to pump myself up by saying “employee’s coworkers NEED me to do something here and I can’t let them down, the situation is ridiculous “. And there are times where I am just sick of the tears/whining myself.

      OTH, there have been times where I have agreed with the crying/upset person but I had to tell them “no, stop” anyway. In some ways those were “easier” if that is possible. That looked something like this: “Personally, I agree with you about X and Y. But professionally, I have to tell you here is what is expected [fill in with desired out come here].” I guess because I agreed (I don’t lie about agreeing) and stuck to the message they needed to hear it was easier to get buy-in and a promise of change.

      Decide on your message BEFORE you meet. Narrow it down to several key sentences that the employee MUST be aware of. That becomes the message you are aiming to deliver to the employee.

  22. Ryan*

    Question: What do you do when you ask her to excuse herself and she pretends like you didn’t say anything or flat out refuses? Or even worse, says “no it’s ok, I’ll be fine”, stops for a second, then continues to cry again??

    1. fposte*

      “I need you to come with me,” and walk her out.

      If she resists that, it’s likely firing time.

      1. Dmented Kitty*

        Hand her an Oscar trophy and ask if she would like to make a speech? /s

        Seriously — what fposte said.

        1. Natalie*

          This would the perfect place for the “Wrap It Up” music box from Chappelle’s Show.

  23. Ann O'Nemity*

    It’d be one thing if the employee frequently cried but excused herself to go cry in private. Or if the employee frequently cried but asked everyone to ignore her emotional response until she could get them under control. Either would indicate the the person is truly having trouble controlling the tears, but is trying to lessen the effect of the crying on everyone else.

    But no, this person is obviously crying for secondary gain. Talking about how wronged she is? Making employees feel manipulated? This is so unacceptable, and the LW shouldn’t have let it go on this long.

  24. Ss*

    I used to be a crier, but straightens myself out. I would have been mortified if anyone commented on it or I used to get my way.

    This past school year I found myself reverting back to crying. I had worked through much more stressful situations without crying. It scared me enough to seek help. I was clinically depressed.

    That said, I have worked with and continue to work with people who cry or throw fits over EVERYTHING!

    I am not annoyed at them, but our boss. He gives in to this shit and retains and attracts employees who do this. Very frustrating!

  25. meetoo*

    This is going to get worse before it gets better. This person is going to see your laying down the rules as a “wrong” against them but that does not mean you should not do it. I agree with the suggestions to send her to an EAP if you have one and to talk about the big picture. Part of talking about the big picture is reminding her that this behavior is putting her job at risk.

    Be very explicit with her about what you want to see so that when you ask her to leave a meeting it is a follow through not a surprise. You can have a discussion about professional behavior with exactly what you expect to see. “If you start to cry in a meeting excuse your self and come back when you are composed.” If she does not do this then you can ask her to leave. As others have said it is most important to put a stop to the “I have been wronged” business. Tell her explicitly that this must stop. “If you feel upset about something that happens keep it to yourself. If you need to talk about it talk to someone out side of work like a friend or therapist.” Like Allison said even if she can’t control crying she can control this. Then if she does not stop wining and carrying on to coworkers treat it as you would any performance problem.

    Consistency of response is critical. She is acting like a child and you may feel like you are treating her like one but calling her out each time she does something keeps her from thinking she can do it sometimes. Do this quickly before any of your star performers leave because they feel bullied and management is not doing anything to stop it.

  26. dejavu2*

    I agree with everyone, this needs to be handled in a typical manner. Document, set expectations and benchmarks, then fire her if she can’t meet them. If she does, in fact, have a mental illness or neurological problem that truly renders her helpless as she cries and insists she’s being victimized, this could be an ADA issue. In which case you’ll have to show you are unable to offer reasonable accommodations to her hysterical manipulation and emotional attacks on her coworkers. Or maybe forcing her to leave the room will work.

    All I know is, I worked at an office once where a lot was going down and people were constantly crying – in the hallways, in their offices, in the conference room – and it was totally insane and distracting. Even having to deal with one person like that again would be a dealbreaker for me in a job.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      My last place of employment was like that (still is, I hear). Of course, the constant layoffs over the past 3 years haven’t helped morale any. Getting laid off was a blessing, not in disguise!

    2. AMT*

      Wow. Was this a particularly toxic environment, or did you just work with a lot of nutjobs?

      1. dejavu2*

        In my case, both, but more the former. The Board of Directors decreed a massive restructuring that was totally idiotic and resulted in a lot of really good, really key people being abruptly terminated and replaced by unctuous asshats with no prior industry experience. I am disappointed to say that our perception on the ground of the situation was accurate, and that former employer went bust about two years ago. I will never understand as long as I live what the BoD was thinking.

        1. dejavu2*

          But I still thought all the crying was weird. I mean, Boards do dumb stuff all the time.

    3. Windchime*

      I actually worked in an office where we were trying to accomplish a gigantic implementation on an impossibly short deadline. There were a handful of us who were working around the clock, 10-12 hours a day 7 days a week for months on end. Even when it was obvious that the implementation would be a failure, the higher-ups refused to change the deadline. We were all exhausted; one night, I literally fell off my chair from exhaustion was I was working.

      So yeah, there were tears. Lots of them. We cried a lot, simply out of frustration and exhaustion and the knowledge that we were going to take the fall for a failed implementation.

      I left that job about 2 months after go-live. A competitor threw me a lifeline and I took it. I have gotten tearful maybe once at work since then. I am inclined to forgive a few tears when people are under extreme, unrelenting pressure for months on end.

      1. CA Anon*

        Dude, that sounds like my husband’s last job. The engineering team was a mess for months because management didn’t understand/care. Big mistake.

        (This wouldn’t happen to be a wellness startup based in SF would it?)

  27. Mena*

    Oh my, I would have to stifle myself from saying ‘GROW UP.’

    OP is quite right – this is manipulation and bullying and it should be handled as such, quickly. How you handle this (or accommodate this, or tolerate this) sends a strong message to the rest of the team.

    I like Alison’s suggest of separating her from the group. She needs to step out and possibly go home. This type of behavior only works if there is an audience and you will be removing her audience. (the 2 times in my 26 professional years I cried at work I fled into a secluded room until I pulled myself together – this girl wants the audience)

  28. Meg*

    Yeah, I am “leaky” (is how I’ve described it to friends and family) and will cry in emotionally fraught situations whether or not I’m in distress. I’ll back this employee up in that I really, truly, cannot control it. It is a physical response to stress, and its just how I’ve always been. I wish I didn’t cry, as it can obviously be seen as manipulative, so I try to avoid crying in front of people as much as I can.

    However, when it does happen at work, it happens RARELY, (as emotionally fraught situations shouldn’t be nearly as common at work as they are at home!!) and I always either apologize and excuse myself from the room to regain composure BEFORE I start crying or, if I’m in a one-on-one meeting with a person I trust, I calmly explain the “leakiness” and either excuse myself for a sec if it’s getting crazy or just ask for a tissue and continue.

    Anyway, I tend to think that that’s the appropriate way to deal with being this kind of person. If someone’s doing something else, I tend to think they’re just milking it for attention.

  29. Who are you??*

    I think I may have worked with this woman (or a version of her). It was maddening! Our job funtion was primarily data entry and she was notorious for turning in work laden with typos and wrong information. As soon as our manager would step over to her desk she’d start in with the tears and excuses. It was never her fault why she couldn’t turn in quality work. It was always something like “the conversations around her were too loud”, “she’d been having issues at home”, “none of the team would provide the correct information needed” etc etc etc. Our manager didn’t handle crying well and would always stammer and say something like “um, yeah, well” and walk away. It wasn’t a surpise to anyone when half the team up and quit within six months of her hire date…including the manager!

  30. saro*

    I had a friend/co-worker like this. She was really smart and talented but also a crying, tactless drama queen. Super sensitive to any slights but unable to recognize her own rude remarks. I honestly don’t think she realized that she was unprofessional and manipulative when she cried. Now that I think about it, I remember her saying that people should cry more.

    1. OriginalYup*

      Yep. I’ve known a few like that too. One of them is still p*ssed at me for pointing out that a more accurate definition of “being sensitive” is being highly aware of the feelings of others, not just your own.

      1. Sadsack*

        Good point, when someone like the person OP writes about calls themselves “sensitive,” what she means is “self-indulgent.”

        1. saro*

          Yes, exactly. Also, her so-called sensitivity made it impossible to tell her, ‘Hey, you hurt my feelings.’ without excessive waterworks, which was the death knell of my attempts to continue being friends with her. It’s a shame, she was brilliant.

  31. some1*

    LW, please address this. I’d bet it’s impacting the morale of the rest of the staff more than you imagine, because I worked with a woman like this. Your staff is probably less productive because they can’t address any issues with her, probably dread every interaction with her, and resent her.

    Another issue is, sadly, that the rest of the staff could very well see you as a less effective leader. It’s not anyone else’s business whether you address this, however, they are likely to harbor resentment when they can conclude behavior this disruptive isn’t being addressed because it continues.

  32. Sandrine (France)*

    I have cried maybe three times at work.

    Once, I had heard about domestic abuse in the family the day before… and it had been hidden for eight years.

    Another time my “Dad” (didn’t call him for Father’s Day) was harassing me at work (couldn’t stand that Mom might be getting remarried… hello it’s been seven years now) .

    Another time I had been passed over for yet another promotion and I was cranky and tired, plus the announcement of being passed over made me soooooo sad because I had been working hard to get it.

    Okay so there’s a fourth time: no matter how much I rationalize and think “RENT RENT RENT RENT ELECTRICITY FOOD FOOD” I have come to realize that I can’t patch things up long enough to hold it together at work. A month or so ago, I came in, cried for an hour (it’s horribly embarrassing at a call center job, lemme tell ya) and my boss was nice enough to take me aside and talk to me about it .

    But that’s, what, 5 times in almost… three years. Too many times, sure, but this morning, as I was coming back to work (Vacation then med leave – they have decided to strike down absentees so they’re being harsher now – long story) I told my boss I’m still feeling the way I was when I cried in front of him… EXCEPT (big difference from the person in the OP) I decided to at least keep my composure so I could function.

    TL;DR : I’ve done my share of crying at work. Except I admitted it and worked on it to get to a point where I will do my best to keep my composure, and my Boss noted the effort and will bat for me to HR, since they’ve known about my problems for three years.

    (Bonus: I told him if they can’t change my job… they can let me go, so I can collect unimployment monies right after instead of waiting 4 months… I’d rather avoid that but that job is burning me out so bad it’s not even funny o.O)

  33. Dmented Kitty*

    I think some people here have already made this same point…

    I think the crying is hardly the big issue — it’s the “playing the victim” card that is the bigger problem. I don’t know if it’s just ingrained since childhood, or if she actually has a deeper problem that needs addressed by a qualified professional.

    I just hope that when you say, “… I need you to stop having emotional outbursts at work. Can you do that?” she won’t start implying how much *you’ve* wronged her this time. Either way, I agree with the advice — excuse her from everyone else as professionally as possible until she gets herself together. And hopefully she gets it under control when she’s aware of the consequences.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, OP, do not fall prey to the victim card.

      Victim is her identity. If you take that away from her she has no identity and then you will have a bunch of stuff to contend with. Stay focused on “being professional” and handling things in a professional manner.

      Stay away from talk about her emotions and how she feels. “Well, you are entitled to feel anything, those are your feelings. What we are talking about here is your weekly crying. Feelings are internal, crying is external. I am really not here to talk about feelings. What we need to focus on is the crying. It needs to stop.”

      1. Windchime*

        I like this script. Perfect, and when it’s delivered in a kind, matter-of-fact tone, there really is nothing that she can do to refute this. Except probably start bawling, in which case the supervisor can repeat what another poster suggested: “This is an example of the behavior that needs to stop. I need you to be able to accept feedback in a mature manner.”

  34. ChiTown Lurker*

    I had a couple of crier/complainers on my team (team lead not a manager) a few years ago. I made it a requirement that the crier leave the room and not rejoin the meeting until regaining composure. Secondly, she was not allowed to complain during the meeting unless she could:

    1) state the problem clearly and succinctly;
    2) give her solution for the problem;
    3) and state ways that her solution would positively/negatively impact the team.

    If she couldn’t do that she had to bring the problem to me offline after the meeting where I would help her to work out the issue so it could be presented at the next meeting.

    Crier number one quit because she felt it was too much work and she was being persecuted.
    Crier number two became a productive and respected member of the team.

    Win-win.

    1. snuck*

      I like that… it’s good. It makes the person responsible and a team player… it’s not helpful to just say “Stop crying and complaining” because what you are saying is “suppress your feelings and sit down and shut up even if you think something is wrong”.

  35. Elyse*

    I’m going to be candid and admit to being an INTENSE crier. It hasn’t happened at work in years, but I cry (hard!) at home at least once a week for things that do NOT justify such a reaction. I grew up with ADHD-PI and still deal with it to this day. Because of this, I become overwhelmed so quickly that I just lose my ability to contain myself. I truly, truly cannot help it.

    It’s very much a mental health and behavioral issue, but I learned VERY quickly that it’s just not acceptable in a work environment. If a tantrum is going to happen, I wait until I get home. That’s just the way it has to be! Sit her down and tell her that. Ask if she’s considered seeing someone about the tearfulness. If she can’t handle that, then it shouldn’t be anyone else’s burden. Her coworkers shouldn’t have to deal with juvenile behavior, whether she can help it or not.

  36. ThursdaysGeek*

    There are a lot of responses on here about how management should approach her.

    We had a somewhat similar situation, although the co-worker was, in my opinion, exhibiting signs of paranoia. He decided that me smiling and greeting him in the hallway (like I do with everyone) was a problem. So we were brought into a meeting together, and I was told I should ignore him, not smile or acknowledge him when I encountered him at work. It was hard to do something so totally out of my character, and it didn’t seem fair that I should be the one admonished when he was the one with a problem (whatever it was). Oh, and we were on the same team. I had to work with him without any personal or pleasant interactions.

    That seems equivalent to a solution not mentioned above: when she cries, give in quickly and do what she wants. Crying isn’t professional, so everyone else do whatever is necessary to make sure she doesn’t cry.

  37. Vancouver Reader*

    It also sounds like this person feels everything is about them (I know someone upthread had mentioned narcissism). Could it help if it was pointed out to her privately, in a nice way, that not everything is about her. Maybe she’d be happier in a job where she’s working on her own rather than with others.

  38. barking*

    I worked with a woman like this long ago. She would quit dramatically, walk out and come back the next day like nothing had changed. That ended when a new, tough supervisor told her on the way out to bring in her resignation letter the next day and they would cut her a check.

    1. Windchime*

      That reminds me of when George Costanza quit his job in a huff and then came back to work the following Monday, pretending that he had been kidding when he quit. His boss wasn’t fooled, either.

  39. Henrietta Gondorf*

    I’m coming from a military background and that makes reading this entire thread exceptionally alien. We can order mental health evaluations for service members in certain circumstances, so the idea that a suggestion for someone to check with their doc or go to EAP is out of bounds is baffling to me. iIn my office, it would be considered poor leadership and bad management not to ask what was wrong and pull in all kinds of resources. And that’s even before we get to the issue of crying in the military…suck it up, buttercup would be about the nicest response you could hope for unless it was a memorial ceremony.

    Never ceases to amaze me how rarified an environment military/DoD land truly is.

  40. AnonForThis*

    I’d just be curious to know what small inconsequential things this woman is crying about, before making a final judgement – Examples?

  41. Helen*

    This was me – crying all the time at the drop of a hat! Severe anxiety, and a really horrible work environment where I was bullied were the causes. I got a new job and zoloft. Changed my life!

    1. This is me*

      Same! I’ve always been an emotional person though. When I get embarrassed, or if I feel like I’m at my breaking point, I WILL cry. Although I try to hide it because it does embarrass me.

      Posts like this make me feel like I’m a problem for having really strong emotions. I’m in therapy — the one thing I’m slowly learning is that this is me and I can’t change it. I can’t force myself not to cry in situations. But society has taught me that crying is a weakness.. especially in the workforce. But I’m human.. and I can’t really control it – even with my medication AND therapy. It still happens.

      I’ve had a manager treat me this way, but it felt one-sided (I was in the middle of a bullying situation with another coworker and I couldn’t take it anymore and broke down at work).

      Needless to say, I left that place. Now I’m in a new job with a manager who has strong anger outbursts on a daily basis. Ha!

      1. Anon1234*

        Anger is OK. Crying not. I don’t understand crying- I rarely do, nor do I flip out. But it does seem shitty behavior like condescension, rudeness, anger and boorishness are fine.

        Cracks me up we are ready to fire a manipulative crier and not bullies or the perpetually rude.

        1. Observer*

          That’s not really fair – I’ve never seen anything on this site that comes even close to what you are saying. So much so, that the only reason I would ever ask Allison for advice on what to do with a bully would be so that I could get her language – I have zero doubt that she would advise firmly shutting down any bullying, including termination if that’s what it takes.

          Beyond that, I think that the issue here is not the crying per se, but the fact that it’s constantly disrupting work that needs to get done. And, also that the person is clearly being manipulative. That’s wrong. Browbeating people is not ok, whether you do it vis tears or yelling.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Huh? We’ve had many other letters that address crying at work and never recommended firing any of the criers involved (in fact, this piece from just a couple of weeks ago). On the other hand, I advise firing assholes all the time.

      2. Observer*

        I think you may be missing the point here. There are some key differences between what you are describing and what the LW described.

        You may be emotional and intense. But, if you are crying every week at work SOMETHING is quite wrong. Now, it could be that it’s the work environment that’s the problem – and if you were being bullied and no one would help you, that certainly is a problem. What the LW describes, though, is most definitely not a case of a person who is being abused and crying in response to that.

        Also, it’s one thing to try to get a grip, and keep it under control. “I can’t help it (and I’m not going to try because) It’s all your fault anyway, because you are all so mean” is a very different response. Especially when it happens this frequently and when it clearly keeps work from getting done.

        Good for you for getting the therapy you need. And, if you are still being bullied and can’t get relief, please do start looking for another job. That’s toxic.

  42. C Average*

    I agree with all of you who have said this would drive you crazy. I also trust the OP’s judgment that this behavior has a manipulative element.

    That said, I don’t think all frequent workplace criers are unstable or manipulative or both. I don’t think they necessarily have some personal drama going on. All of these are likely enough, but it’s also plenty likely that the person is being brought to tears by some aspect of the job.

    After a couple years of reporting to a wonderful manager and having well-established workflows, I was placed under a different manager who was inexperienced, inept, arrogant, and uninterested in learning about what I’d been doing that had been working. He had very specific ideas about what I should be doing, and they represented a major change from what I had been doing. (And I’d been highly rated previously, getting plenty of positive feedback from management. It wasn’t like I was a fixer-upper in need of firm treatment.) I felt constrained, watched over, disapproved of, and disliked. I dreaded coming to work, even though my work itself was deeply important to me. I cried nearly daily because just working with him was so frustrating and demotivating. I really feared I was going to have to quit or get fired from a job I loved and was good at. It was an awful period of my life, and that manifested itself in tears. I felt like I existed on the edge of tears. Anything could push me over. I’m sure I was a pain in the ass to work with, but I wasn’t seeking drama.

    He was eventually demoted back to his previous position, where he remains. I was never a crier before that period, and haven’t been one since, aside from a couple of admittedly PMS- and sleep-deprivation-fueled meltdowns in the ladies’ room where no one could witness them.

    tl; dr = is there a chance the weepiness actually has something to do with work and is out of character for this person?

    1. Ruffingit*

      I hear you on private ladies room meltdowns due to abusive/crappy work situations/managers. Been there. The anxiety and pain that stems from situations like that is hard to describe sometimes, but is intensely felt. Sorry you had to experience that and thank God that jerk of a manager you had was demoted. How long did you have to suffer working for him?

      1. C Average*

        Not long, fortunately. I’m thinking maybe about 8 months? The first few months were awful. Then he just started cancelling all of our one-on-ones and become more or less a non-issue. To the credit of him and our leadership, when they figured out he wasn’t working out as a manager, he was moved seemingly quite gracefully into his old role, where he seems happy and is regarded as a solid performer. Not everyone can or should manage. I don’t think he is, essentially, a jerk. I think he has jerky tendencies like just about everyone and that role brought out the worst in him.

        And yeah, it’s amazing how strong and high the feelings can run over work-related stuff like that. I have a sort of informal mentee who gets teary when she’s frustrated at work. I’ve taught her a couple of Jedi mind tricks I’ve learned to fend off tears, and there are times we’re in meetings together and dealing with difficult stuff (cancelled projects, office politics, crazy deadlines) and I can see her employing these strategies.

        1. Boo*

          What kind of strategies? I’m really interested as if I’m very tired or frustrated with myself, I can get teary and I hate it…

          1. C Average*

            I read somewhere that you can fend off both sneezes and crying jags by putting your tongue over your front teeth. It sounds bizarre, but I swear it works.

            If you’re not the speaker/center of attention in the room and you have any object with you (your computer mouse, your wallet, your water bottle, your bag), you can cast your eyes downward and fiddle with the object. I’ve removed and replaced the battery on my wireless mouse, peeled a sticker off my water bottle, and buffed nonexistent dust from my laptop keyboard. You run the risk of looking fidgety, but fidgety > weepy.

            You can also make deals with yourself that you’ll have a cry–a really GOOD cry–later. Tell yourself, “Keep it together through this meeting and back to your desk, and then you’re going to walk to the ladies’ room, smiling the whole way and greeting anyone you see, and then you are going to lock yourself in the end stall and THEN you can fall apart.”

            If you’re a parent, you can give yourself the kind of pep talk you’d give your child if she was melting down at an inappropriate moment–“I know you’re sad about not getting that stuffed animal, but I can’t bring you here if you’re going to make a scene.” It works not because it’s effective against the actual sadness, but because you realize in the moment how absurd the things we say to children actually are, and then you’re thinking about THAT rather than about whatever’s making you teary.

            All this stuff works for me most of the time. The first one is the one I use the most.

            1. Jamie*

              The bridge of the nose pinch works for me much of the time. I take off my glasses and rub between my eyes as if it was eyestrain. Has to be early when the tingle first starts but before the leaking.

              And I totally second the fidgeting method. Rotate a pen in my fingers, even just consciously feeling the material of my sleeve back and forth between my fingers, if that makes sense – being very conscious of how my toes feel in my shoes. So it’s like using your body in a non obvious way to help you think of something else, but something of no consequence. Or I’ll casually rest my hand on my head and be very aware of how my hair feels.

              I may miss a sentence or two, but I catch up. And if looking fidgety was held against people I’d never hold a job – happy, sad, or anywhere in between I’m an old school fidgeter from way back.

              (Smart putty – best invention ever for fidgeting because it’s silent. I couldn’t get through a long phone call without it.)

  43. snuck*

    Somewhere on a parenting blog I saw something that has stuck with me – they were talking about parents arguing in front of the kids and the “I can’t stop myself when I am angry I just explode” (which is different but the same – we are talking emotional control here) and the response was “Well… if the President/Prime Minister walked into the room right now would you be able to stop?” and the answer was “Yes, of course”… “So you can stop yourself, you are just choosing not to” was the response.

    And it’s true. If this woman was motivated enough to stop she would. It’s amazing what emotional control she can find when she wants to – would she cry if the President said something to her? Would she cry if she had the hots for someone in the room? Would she cry if she knew that every time she did she was going to be sent home without pay “To have some time to compose herself”???

    If she really can’t compose herself and it’s a genuine problem to the extent that the above don’t apply then a) she needs to get some serious professional help (and a DSMV diagnosis) and b) put into place strategies to manage the negative consequences of her condition.

  44. Canadamber*

    What if you’re just sometimes overly sensitive and tend to cry? Like, for instance, my manager had to pull me into the office twice in the last few months to tell me that my behaviour had offended customers, and I got all teary, although I tried to hold it back.

    I’m trying to change the behaviour that I got talked to for now, but sometimes I still slip up, and I’m half convinced that one of these days I’ll get a write up. No, scratch that, 100% convinced (I’m overly anxious…). What if someone cries when that happens? Because I won’t be able to help it then.

    /end of threadjack

    If this lady is really manipulative, then that’s not okay. Being overly sensitive is a problem, but not THAT big of a problem, but if you’re using it as an excuse to act all mean and needy, then that’s just no.

    1. snuck*

      If you are getting a write up that’s different. It’s different because it’s in private(ish), it’s not a standard situation.

      The OP is saying this person cries frequently (weekly!) over small things, and all criticisms. And places blame back on others. (These are two different issues, as pointed out and should be addressed separately.)

      If you are being written up, if you’ve had a really nasty encounter with a customer, if you drop a box of books on your foot or if you are having a really cruddy time at home and it’s a short term situation – we can all understand and make allowances – it’s when it’s pervasive, constant, extended, affecting other people’s ability to do their job or interact normally on a more than rare occasional basis… that’s when it needs to be dealt with.

  45. MARGARET*

    “I suppose it’s possible that she can’t help the crying (although at that frequency, I’m very skeptical), ”

    Have you ever heard of a mood disorder?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I sure have. And constantly talking about how wronged you are isn’t typically a symptom. Let’s not insult people with actual mood disorders.

  46. KM*

    Whoa.

    I have literally never met anyone who cries just to manipulate other people, and I’m shocked to see people get so angry about someone who’s obviously in pain.

    I used to work with a woman who cried all the time. She sat across from me, and I’d hear her sobbing every day. If I’m completely honest with you, it was annoying, and we didn’t like it, but I felt sorry for her. Yes, she was crying loudly to try to get attention, but the reason she wanted attention was because she was lonely and in pain and didn’t know how to reach out to people. It was very unfortunate, and I’m not angry with her that she was that way — I hope she eventually got some help.

    Obviously, if the woman from this letter can’t do her job because she’s crying all the time, then the OP needs to address that — without worrying about whether it’s “BS” or “manipulation” or anything else that’s causing it.

    I’d also toss out the possibility that maybe this is not all in her head — maybe this job is really bad cultural fit and she feels stressed and upset about it and that, in combination with whatever else is going on with her, is causing her to react this way. She might be totally fine at a different organization. I don’t know.

    But, whoa. When somebody else has an emotion, my first reaction is not to think, “You’re trying to get one over on me.” :(

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I think people find it hard to look past the crying, and the thing is, even if she didn’t cry, the behavior of proclaiming her victimhood at least once a week would be a workplace problem that needed solving.

      2. Ruffingit*

        Exactly and not only is she saying she’s been wronged, but she’s doing it at times where it’s near impossible to believe she’s been wronged so it’s coming up without context. The OP says it happens even in neutral staff meetings where we are discussing seemingly inconsequential things, this is a nearly constant problem.

        So something is very wrong with this employee’s behavior and it’s just not appropriate. If someone is lonely and making cries for help (literally) then how much of that is the responsibility of the workplace to handle? I’d say basically none. If a person is so lonely they feel the need to cry daily or even weekly to get the attention of co-workers, they are being horrendously inappropriate and should get therapy or something. Your workplace is not meetup.com or a therapist’s office. I don’t even know what a workplace (meaning managers and co-workers) could even do. It’s not that people are unfeeling, it’s that they go to the office to work not to play Dr. Phil.

  47. Diane*

    I used to cry at work. I have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and given a prescription. I no longer cry at work.

  48. slim*

    this is basically exactly what im dealing with from a co worker. She cry’s anytime she doesnt get her way, but yet is the most condescending, rude person ive ever worked with. I dont get how someone can be so bossy, but yet the minute she is on the receiving end she cries……
    i had one rough day working with her, and decided not to put up with her crap during one shift, and apparently she cried and said i was mean…………..
    i honestly think she’s doing it for sympathy, and she sure is getting it. I now have at least 4 employees who think that im the bad guy in this situation, and at least one manager thinks that im the culprit and she’s the innocent victim…..

Comments are closed.