my employee cries whenever I give her feedback

A reader writes:

One of the people I supervise is “Mary,” a woman in her early 20s. Every time she gets critical feedback (even very mild and accompanied by praise), she turns bright red and starts crying … like, a lot. Tears streaming down her face. Other than that, though, she responds calmly and rationally. She carries a handkerchief and just mops up the tears and continues the conversation. One of the first times this happened, I asked if she was okay, and she said that it’s “just a physical response to stress” and confided that she’s getting cognitive behavioral therapy to learn to control it. Honestly, I think she’s handling the whole thing with a lot of professionalism and maturity.

I am her direct supervisor, but she also reports to two of my (male) colleagues, one of whom is a VP in my company. I recently overheard them talking about Mary, saying that her crying is uncomfortable, unprofessional, and “stupid.” Mary is a great employee, and I want to do whatever I can to protect her job and reputation within the company. Should I say something to my colleagues? Should I advise her to say something?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My boss told me to stop emailing him
  • Employee keeps referring to me as his “manageress”
  • Should staff get bonuses for covering when I’m on maternity leave?
  • Meeting with people from my old industry right after I start a new job

{ 424 comments… read them below }

  1. Mary*

    >> I recently overheard them talking about Mary, saying that her crying is uncomfortable, unprofessional, and “stupid.”

    Ahh, the old “when women cry, it’s inappropriate emotion, but my fear and discomfort about a woman crying is a rational, neutral and non-emotional reaction.

      1. Me*

        I’d be tempted to make that my response. Ah yes John…I agree it’s not the best but certainly preferable to the unprofessionalism in oh say gossiping about employees.

    1. Nameless*

      Barring receipt of actual distressing news (a colleague died, you are actually being fired, etc), the crying is unprofessional. It would be equally unprofessional if done by a man. Now, I do think calling her stupid is a bad look for the managers. But, is Mary in a client facing role? Surely client interactions can be very stressful. Does she cry in front of clients? Would you think it equally wrong if a client expressed discomfort over her tears . I would take my business elsewhere if a rep consistently cried at the slightest negative feedback.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        I don’t think it is unprofessional to cry occasionally for reasons ‘lesser’ than death or firing, if you handle yourself well. Because it’s something nearly everyone does. ManRepeller had a great article on this that I’ll link in a follow up comment. Crying in front of clients is arguably unprofessional, but I think with regards to crying at work in general people deserve a bit more grace to be human, react to frustration, etc. than ‘distressing news only’

          1. TechWorker*

            Honestly I know it’s not ‘professional’ but this made me feel a lot better about my own crying, so thank you! I’ve cried a few tunes at work when talking about stress or pressure I’m under with my boss or grand boss. (Today my grand boss was like ‘who isn’t doing well with working from home?’ and I was like ‘me!’ and then couldn’t really answer questions as to why cos I was in danger of tearing up). I cried once infront if someone else after a terrible meeting where I felt disrespected (where we were both in the same meeting immediately after so he came in and was like ‘oh Er, are you ok’). He was nice about it and luckily doesn’t report to me! I’ve never cried infront of my team and would like to keep it that way.

        1. MK*

          She isn’t crying occasionally, she is crying every time she gets feedback. Even if it is a reaction to stress, it is not an appropriate one in the workplace.

          1. Momma Bear*

            She’s identified that it is a problem and is seeking help to work on it. There are conditions (like anxiety, rejection sensitive dysphoria and panic attacks) that can cause someone to have strong reactions where other people might not find it warranted. She might also have PTSD from a childhood trauma. What’s relevant here is that she’s trying. OP might want to ask Mary what she wouldn’t mind being disclosed to others and then tell the other people “It’s something she is actively working to change. In the meantime, I’ve found that x and y work to get through the discussion. Mary is a high performer and otherwise receptive to feedback.” Also, are there instances where they can give the feedback to OP and let OP talk to her, or provide it in an email instead of face to face, with her coming to them if she has follow up questions? A stress reaction is involuntary. I think Mary deserves the chance to see if the therapy helps and shouldn’t be dismissed for it.

            1. Constance Lloyd*

              Yes, agreed. What strikes me as more important than the tears is the fact she makes a clear effort to manage them as professionally as possible in the moment and is working to overcome whatever it is that makes them show up so often. If she’s otherwise receptive to hearing and implementing feedback I think she deserves a fair amount of grace in this situation. The fact that she’s in therapy for this also indicates a level of self awareness I would consider an asset in a coworker or employee.

        2. Nameless*

          If it were truly only occasionally, I would agree. But LW says it is often and over very mild criticism. I almost think that Mary might be playing LW by turning on the waterworks so often. LW offers constructive criticism. Mary turns on the tears. LW focuses on making Mary feel better instead of the original problem.

          1. Mary*

            That kind of assumption — that tears are obviously a manipulation tactic — is absolutely rooted in misogyny.

            1. Mary's Mom*

              On the flip side, assuming that she cries because she’s emotionally incontinent – that, too, is rooted in misogyny.

              1. Perbie*

                But lw says mary told her it’s an inadvertent reaction to stress ie “emotional incontinence” i guess. Except she’s not really emotional, just crying. (I do understand this feeling albiet happens to me rarely; sparring, if i get hit in the nose hard enough to smart, sure enough the waterworks threaten even if I feel calm and like it’s just practice as usual)

          2. LeahS*

            She is aware of the problem and getting help for it. I would not expect this level of self-awareness in an individual who is crying to manipulate others. I also wonder how many men would be seen as manipulative if they routinely cried.

            1. TootsNYC*

              She also responds “calmly and rationally” to the criticism. That’s ALSO not manipulative.

            2. Katrinka*

              The flip side is that I’ve had male coworkers lose their tempers often to the point where people were walking on eggshells around them, but nobody (nobody!) ever said, “wow, Cecil is so manipulative.” And it totally is manipulative.

            3. mark132*

              A man would likely not be viewed as manipulative but rather in contempt. “Dude man up”. (unless we are talking something like a death in the family.)

              1. TechWorker*

                Almost definitely in some workplaces but I do really hope this is changing as there’s more awareness of mental health. I am 100% sure the reaction to someone crying (especially the first time as opposed to if it were frequent) from most of my colleagues would be concern rather than disdain, regardless of cryers gender.

                1. mark132*

                  yes, the first time, but if a man is crying for ordinary feedback everytime… probably not. Perhaps the word “contempt” I used is too strong, but likely disdain.

          3. Black Horse Dancing*

            Most people can’t cry on cue. I bet this is just what LW observes–someone whose emotions are often tied to tear ducts. I have had tears spring forward when I am enraged or upset–not for manipulation and no, it can’t be controlled. I have tried. I have teared up when people re vry kind to me. Why, I don’t know. And I am an older woman.

            1. Admiral Thrawn is Still Blue*

              This is pretty much me too. and I hate it!! but I assure everyone, it is not conciously done and not a manipulation tactic. It doesn’t happen during normal times, like regular feedback.

              1. Res Admin*

                I have the same issue. At least my face doesn’t turn red, but my eyes will water copiously…and it doesn’t even have to be during feedback. Just when talking–even just normal conversation. It is embarrassing. It is annoying. It is also, apparently, genetic. It is also aggravated by staring at a monitor for hours a day.

                So, I cannot think highly of the gossiping managers. They are fully entitled to believe that it is unprofessional and to not care for it. But calling it “stupid” and assuming that it is intentional is even more unprofessional and definitely unkind.

          4. Blueberry*

            ” I almost think that Mary might be playing LW by turning on the waterworks so often. ”

            Why? Do you really think crying is so volitional and under conscious deliberate control for most people? That has not been my experience. That many people (men AND women, alas) think women are more likely than men to be dishonest/mendacious/manipulative *is* unfortunately part of my experience, and is the wider idea of which the idea that women routinely “turn on the waterworks” to get what we want is a smaller part.

            1. Sylvan*

              Crying is controllable for some people. I can stop it, so I assumed everyone more or less could until, like, well into adulthood. :/ So if someone was crying, I would’ve thought they were choosing to let it out.

              1. Blueberry*

                I want to touch you and absorb this superpower like a comic book character. I’d give [insert item here] to be able to stop myself from crying/stop before I’m done.

          5. dragocucina*

            As one of the world’s easiest criers I agree with this. I will tear up describing a commercial. Yet, it’s not always appropriate. It also makes it difficult to manage and give feedback. I had a department head who had boundary issues. During a major, yearly budget meeting she walked in and put a cookbook in front of someone and started crying when I explained (nicely) that it wasn’t appropriate. She would always go home in tears and a sudden sinus headache after feedback.

            1. Dancing Otter*

              Crying hard *can* cause headaches. But I’d be even more determined to tough it out if I’d already been seen crying.

          6. DarnTheMan*

            As other people have pointed out, anxiety response is often involuntary. Because of my anxiety disorder and lingering stress from my old (terrible) job, I know I have a tendency to fidget with my hands if I’m in a meeting that I remotely perceive to be stressful. It’s less noticeable than crying but still something I am actively working on because I know that sitting in a meeting, worrying at my fingers isn’t a great look but it’s also something that I often will catch myself doing without even realizing it.

          7. Green*

            “Mary turns on the tears.”
            “I almost think that Mary might be playing LW by turning on the waterworks so often.”

            Just gonna Carolyn Hax “WOW.” about that

        3. Courtney Kupets*

          Yes, but if it happens every single time whenever anything is slightly difficult it is a problem. I get it. I cry (by myself, no one knows) in my office due to anxiety and things, but I reign that stuff in in front of others. I realize there are times when crying happens outwardly, and I actually start to cry when I get really angry.

          I think it’s ok if people were to cry occasionally, I think every single little thing though is a problem. Seems like the employee knows this and is trying to handle it. The comment about being stupid is not acceptable, but you can’t just cry all the time at work!

          1. allathian*

            No, you can’t cry all the time at work. But the point here is that she’s getting help to deal with ordinary feedback without crying, rather than just ignoring the issue. Calling her stupid for crying is uncalled for, gossiping about employees is unprofessional and the guys who do so are behaving much worse than the crying person.

        4. Jdc*

          I agree. If you handle yourself well I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I think too often people confuse professional with not human. We all still have emotions, flaws, hang ups regardless of how professional we attempt to behave.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        This. Crying is not a usual reaction. Most of us would respond to it by trying to offer comfort to the crying person and dropping any other topics, and “the date needs to go on the upper left” is information that still needs to get conveyed, so it’s really hard at work. It’s the sort of thing where coworkers start trying to just go around that person so they don’t have to deal with weeping, or eye rolling, or every request leading to an hour’s lecture on how they should watch Breaking Bad. (Actual past thread example.)

        Kudos to Mary for pushing through it and seeking treatment to address it, but her colleagues are not some weird outliers to find the weeping off-putting–that’s how humans respond to visible emotional distress in others.

        1. MayLou*

          It’s not a usual reaction to start wheezing uncontrollably when someone walks past wearing strong perfume, but that doesn’t make having asthma unprofessional.

            1. kt*

              For some people, excess lacrimation is too.

              Listen, if someone is producing tears in responses to mild changes in a stress hormone, unrelated in essence to how they want to react or how they’re thinking or what they’re intending, and they are otherwise “professional and rational”, it’s a medical problem. Tears are secreted in response to a complex biochemical cascade in the body, in both men and women. It’s not that odd to find it can be a little miscalibrated in some folks. Some of us sunburn easily, others don’t; some have asthmatic reactions to smoke or perfume and others don’t….

              1. AKchic*

                And unfortunately, gossiping and snarking about coworkers and people who report to you isn’t a medical condition, no matter how much one might try to say so after the fact, should they get a hearty serving of “Don’t Be A Jackass” pie.

        2. Avasarala*

          I agree. I’m glad she is getting help for it but let’s not pretend Mary is acting perfectly normal here. I doubt the other workers have the context to understand that this is a medical issue for her.

      3. CatherineS*

        My body has always had the same response to even the lowest level of stress, and it’s not something I can control or explain to the satisfaction of others sometime. I don’t need to be upset, disturbed, offended, or angry — all it takes is a slight uptick in my stress level, and the tears start to flow. It’s very embarrassing, but thankfully my managers have accepted it at face value when I’ve said, “please ignore the tears, I’m fine, it’s my body’s response to even mild stress that I can’t stop.”

        1. Nat*

          This is me as well, and I’m honestly relieved to learn that I’m not alone in this. I’ve always tried to describe it the same way – it’s a physical reaction to certain types of stress, that I have no control over. It’s not even really an emotional reaction, I’m not sad or angry or particularly emotional, if anything I’m frustrated, and the crying just makes the frustration worse.

        2. WantonSeedStitch*

          I remember a time in my early 20s when I was taking a birth control prescription that made crying or laughing uncontrollably a MUCH more common occurrence than it ever had been in my life! People close to me would be concerned, and I had to reassure them, “it’s just an overblown physical reaction–I swear my EMOTIONAL reaction isn’t actually as over the top as this looks!”

          1. Juneybug*

            Or anxiety meds. I felt fine and could handle the feedback but tears would flow anyway. It suck but I knew it was a temporary side effect of the meds.

        3. glitter writer*

          I’m the same way. It’s extremely frustrating and embarrassing to me but I likewise have found that after the first time, if I explain it’s just a reaction I can’t control and go on to behave like a reasonable person, that managers get over it quickly.

        4. Nethwen*

          When I took private music lessons, I would tell my teachers, “My brain is working fine; keep talking. It’s just my eyes reacting to stress.” They took their cues from me and stayed matter-of-fact and on-topic and I recovered more quickly than if the crying had become a thing to manage.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I cried out of frustration at a doctor’s office, and he handed me tissues, said, “If I were in your shoes, I’d probably be crying too,” and then just kept going as if I weren’t crying.

            It was so respectful–he clearly thought that my emotions were mine to manage (not his), and that I would be capable of managing them.

            As for our OP, I’m not sure what to suggest–I might suggest actually meeting with the person who was criticizing Mary and explaining why I, as her manager, felt that she was an excellent employee.

        5. Jules the 3rd*

          If it helps any: The Cut, 2015 “Why Do Women Cry More Than Men” has good discussion of the various physical / physiological factors that may be part of this.

          I like Alison’s advice on this one, 100%.

        6. dee 20*

          I have the same issue, exactly. I’m very thankful for my current manager who is pretty casual about it, because if people insist on repeatedly acknowledging it/asking if I’m okay even after I try to explain, the embarrassment makes it worse! I’ve been talking to mental health professionals about it for ages, and while I’ve gotten better at powering through it, I’ve never been successful stopping it completely. The best guess is that it might have to do with the emotional dysregulation that can come with ADHD. I’m so relieved other people experience this.

        7. Lady Jay*

          Yes, this! When I am tired or stressed, I’m more likely to cry. Stressed and frustrated about not understanding a work project? I cry. Stressed and somebody kindly asks how I am? I cry. I would prefer not to cry, but sometimes, it can’t be helped.

          Thankfully, the people I’ve met have taken my word for it that crying is a natural, physical response for me and ignored it, as I’ve asked them to. I can’t imagine being accused of crying on cue to manipulate someone.

          1. Kumajiro*

            I cry too when stressed. Usually caused by having to “correct” someone in authority. Parents, professors, bosses. If I need to tell them about something they misunderstood, or have a question that might lead to that coming out, my eyes start going. Turning it off at will is not something I can do. I’ve been trying since I was a teen, and it just doesn’t stop. Though, one thing that does make it definitely not stop is someone telling me to stop crying (which is and has always been my mom’s mo). What helps is just going through with the conversation, because a break and then continuing will just start it all over again. I’m so glad that my boss is understanding (of this and some other issues with my brain), and I couldn’t imagine working for someone who thought I was trying to manipulate them with it.

        8. hbc*

          Yes, and I find the suggestion that it’s deliberate and manipulative to be ridiculous. Like, who am I doing this for in the movie theater, or read an email, or when I’m saying goodbye to a teacher at a daycare center that my kid was at for four months?

          Maaaybe you can find a low performer who cries on cue to get themselves out of trouble, but I’ve never seen someone who’s both good at their job and thinks crying is going to make things better.

        9. Jdc*

          Me too. And only certain types of stress. Other types I clam up. I just brush it off and move on making it not a big deal. At most I’ve apologized and said i was just tired that day and people seem to take that as a decent response.

        10. Auga*

          The worse for me is the shame I feel for crying at something that even I know at the time isn’t worth it. I mentally berate myself (“What are you doing? Why are you crying over this?!”) and then the tears get worse!

      4. Blueberry*

        Generally speaking, men don’t cry as often as women, be it socialization or biology (I have heard from more than one trans man that since starting testosterone they find themselves crying less often at the same upsetting stimuli.) But crying is seen as uniquely unprofessional. Yelling, name-calling, long angry lectures are all fine in the business world, but crying is seen as unforgivably awful. I do think that is linked to gender.

        1. Courtney Kupets*

          Yeah, my dad had prostate cancer, so he has to be on a testosterone suppressant for a few years. He cries a lot now and said “is this what it’s like to be a woman?” yup. Except my emotions need to be in check mostly at work, so I do it privately if I have to do it a lot.

        2. Ashley*

          This is what pisses me off. I literally have no control over the crying, and people definitely CAN control whether they talk in a normal tone or yell, but the yelling is totally normal and accepted. It’s ridiculous that we even have to discuss people’s biologic reactions to stress if they don’t harm someone else. My crying isn’t going to harm you, but I bet someone screaming at you will. But that’s fine?!

            1. Blueberry*

              Are you certain every person can? Is this a field you work in? (Real question — I would love suggestions with more granularity than ‘go to therapy’. LW’s subordinate did that and so did I.)

        3. sfdgf tr*

          Yelling, name-calling, long angry lectures are all fine in the business world,

          What? Not they’re not! Never in anywhere I’ve worked has this been fine. I started in Detroit as a data analyst for a vendor that supported the auto industry and am now working at a major national bank in PA and this has never been OK. It wasn’t OK in the retail jobs I worked either. I’m in my 40s and been working my entire adult life and this has never been OK. If they are OK where you work, that is a dysfunctional work place.

          1. Blueberry*

            We’re around the same age, and yeah, I’d say many of my workplaces have been dysfunctional in some way or another. Honestly, until AAM and my current job I don’t think I believed in functional workplaces.

            Also, I ended up being an admin, and that probably contributes to my experiences. It’s been impressed upon me again and again how valuable I am not.

          2. Avasarala*

            Yeah, what? Places where yelling and name-calling are fine are weird and dysfunctional. I’m not aware of a widespread acceptance of those in the workplace.

            1. Turtle Candle*

              I seriously wonder if this is an industry-specific thing, because, yeah, yelling would be super weird and wrong and subject to reprimand anywhere I’ve worked. Even when I worked retail.

            2. Blueberry*

              It was worst in the medical and medical-adjacent jobs, but I also got yelled at in the school and the nonprofits. The second nonprofit was where they used to pry me out of the bathroom, and the school was where I got written up for crying after being cursed out by a parent.

              Should I have been tougher? Absolutely. But I’ve been yelled at and even called names at too many jobs to be able to believe it’s that rare. And I definitely noticed that men, usually White, are the ones most permitted to yell (as are supervisors of whatever demographics).

      5. Mary*

        The thing is that we’re still working with a definition of “professional” which was very much determined by how a middle-class white man was expected to behave. That’s not the same as saying that only women cry or that all women are comfortable with people crying, but crying in the workplace is still definitely thought of as feminine behaviour, looked down on because it’s feminine behaviour, and used as a reason why women don’t succeed in the workplace. Tim Hunt’s comments that women don’t belong in a lab because “when you criticise them, they cry” was the ur-example of this.

        There are lots of assumptions about what’s “professional” and what’s “unprofessional” that mean the more you diverge from the straight middle-class white man that the term “professional” was invented for, the more harshly you’ll be judged. I think the concept of professionalism is useful, but I do think we should push back on ideas of professionalism which judge involuntary physical reactions like crying more harshly than behaviour that’s in people’s control. If someone’s sobbing and unable to communicate, then yes, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed. But if someone just has wet eyes and is working hard to continue the conversation , that’s what they should be judged on.

        1. Blueberry*

          This, so much this. In general, people consider crying vastly more inappropriate than they consider yelling or even name-calling, and I think you’ve explained very well why.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Whoa, I don’t think so. Most people I know consider yelling or name-calling to be far bigger deals than crying. (Maybe this is cultural if you’re not in the US?)

            1. Blueberry*

              That really hasn’t been my experience (and I’m in the US). I’m a crier, rather than a yeller, and I have seen and experienced people’s yelling and name-calling being excused when my and others’ tears were scolding-and-even-written-warning worthy. In multiple unrelated workplaces.

                1. Blueberry*

                  Good! I wouldn’t want anyone to have experienced this (and I’m being totally sincere with that. No snark meant).

                  I had one admin job where one person really didn’t like me and called me “stupid”,etc, a lot, and both my hospital jobs had a lot of yelling and name calling, but, well, medicine, I should have known better after the first one. But everywhere I’ve been, the worst thing a person can do is cry. I wonder sometimes if it’s because crying is seen as “weak” and causes people to both get angry at the “weak” coworker and feel emboldened to attack them as well, whereas yelling is seen as “strong”.

                2. Turtle Candle*

                  Same. As I mentioned elsewhere, we have a person who cries heavily at even mild feedback, and the main response is discomfort and awkwardness and trying to avoid upsetting them. Yellers who yell more than maybe once (and that with apology and excuse, like “I’m sorry I snapped, I just got bad news about my dad’s health” or “I had a weird med reaction and my doctor and I are looking into alternatives”) get fired. This has been true IME of multiple workplaces. Maybe it’s industry-dependent? I know that in e.g. much of restaurant work yelling and swearing and name-calling is far more tolerated.

                3. Mebbe, Mebbe Not*

                  Gotta say I’ve seen more of Blueberry’s experience than not. At one former job I was trapped in a small area with two males (one manager, one not) screaming vile things (think anatomical acts) at each other, complete with shoulder shoves. Same day, an older female employee was terminated and was seen crying as she left the building*.

                  Guess which situation was “hilarious” and which one was an “over-reaction”?

                  *She was terminated because she tripped on material stacked on the floor and broke her hip. Her claim was denied and insurance stated that due to her age, her hip broke first and that caused her fall.

                4. reluctant attorney*

                  My experience (US) has been that crying and yellling/name-calling are treated fairly equally in the office as “unprofessional” or “emotional” – for women. But the same actions by men is either how sensitive he is (for crying – look at how woke we all are) or that’s he’s just being direct (yelling, name-calling). 18 years of law firms and in-house legal departments. It’s getting better. When I started, the male attorneys would frequently yell, throw things, cuss out subordinates, etc. All considered par for the course and just a natural reaction to stress. We had a male attorney who got so frustrated with the copy machine that he took a baseball bat to it repeatedly (totally ruined the copier) and only fessed up when they reviewed security footage and key card swipes. Told to relax more. That’s it.

              1. Hmm*

                I completely agree for multiple workplaces and I also work in the US. Particularly yelling or verbal abuse from a male, which harms others, being more widely accepted than crying from someone in a response to stress (arguably causing less harm than being abused). This thread is fascinatingly hypocritical on this topic.

                1. Secret Squirrel*

                  My experience as well in US. Yelling is excused, crying is crossing an invisible boundary. A woman crying on the job can kill your promotability in my industry. I’m a great compartmentalizer. On the very rare occasion I have to cry I either go into a stall in the ladies room or wait until I get home.

              2. Jules the 3rd*

                I’d love to see someone study this, as my experience is more in line with Alison’s. Crying was not a big deal, but the three yellers got spoken to immediately. One was fired eventually, the other two are still hanging in but with reduced responsibilities.

                I’ll bet a lot that size / diversity of company / industry makes a difference, but I’d be interested in whether geography does too.

                1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

                  I wonder if it has to do with the gender balance of the workplace. I have a suspicion that, in general, healthy workplaces with women represented well across all levels of responsibility don’t punish crying as harshly as ones where women are under-represented.

                  That said, the most dysfunctional place I worked was predominantly female, there were multiple incidents of both men and women crying and/or yelling in the same interaction, but I remember that crying was handled a lot less favourably, regardless of the gender of the cryer.

            2. Mill Miker*

              I’ve totally worked for bosses that I’d bet my bottom dollar would respond to an employee crying by yelling at them and calling them names, because that’s how they respond to everything, but still keep the job and keep getting promoted.

              1. Black Horse Dancing*

                This, So many jerks get promoted. We see it in AAM constantly and many are yellers, name callers, etc. Why is a surprise that crying is horrible but name calling OK?

            3. Ashley*

              I think it’s crazy that this has NOT been anyone’s experience. Every single workplace, yelling is almost the norm, and crying is NOT acceptable. I’m in the midwest US. My position is finance but I’ve worked in small, medium, large companies in construction, professional accounting, manufacturing. I’ve had the following happen to me not once, but three times: a small group meeting of about 5 employees, one of the male employees gets upset, yells, and POUNDS on the table with his fists and NOTHING happens to him. They (all different workplaces) all looked at me like I was the problem because I brought it up to HR that it made me uncomfortable.

              1. Black Horse Dancing*

                This is my experience as well. I’ve heard men shout and rage–I had a supervisor who threw phone (although I wasn’t there). He did this more than once and was never scolded nor disciplined. And he left his jobs with no notice and yet could have been rehired.

        2. Courtney Kupets*

          I mean, if I have someone that reacts emotionally in ANY way every single time I talk to them, it’s a problem. If they get mad, if they completely get quiet and close down, crying….those, have to be controlled when you are getting feedback. It’s not fair to the person giving feedback. At some point, you have to learn how to control that in the situation. We are not the same at work as we are personally. There is some different expectations. Obviously I wouldn’t mind any of these reactions if they were occasionally happening as..people are people and sometimes, other stresses and stuff are overwhelming, but I need someone I’m giving corrections to to ask me questions, to apologize once maybe, to show they are not defensive.

          1. Kumajiro*

            I think there may be a big disconnect on how some people are viewing “crying” and how others are. To me, it seems like all that is happening is that tears are rolling down OP’s employee’s face while she can still maintain a conversation and is clearly listening and actively incorporating the feedback. While it seems like some people read it more as crying and sobbing uncontrollably. They are two different things, and I don’t think tears are on their own unprofessional, nor are they as controllable as sobbing it.

        3. Spencer Hastings*

          Really? I think it’s more likely that it’s “looked down upon” because it’s *childish* behavior.

      6. JSPA*

        as many people who have been on certain hormones have attested, it’s a lot rarer for someone with a lot of testosterone to have a physiological cry response (one that’s not a flag for unmanaged emotions) than for someone with a lot of estrogen in their system. In fact, people on T have reported being surprised to find fewer or no tears coming (or the process of tearing up to be painful) in sad circumstances, as well. But to occasionally find themselves flooding with tears of rage.

        This is still individual (compare, sweaty palms), not a simple male hormone / female hormone dichotomy, which is all the more reason to not presume a certain meaning behind tears, nor to extrapolate what level of control over tears is or isn’t professional.

        I’ll dig up a couple of links.

        1. JSPA*

          P.S. I don’t, as it happens, see gender essentialism or gender roles in the same way as the woman in the first link (and would prefer that people not presume that I do). I do find it interesting that the gender who are more uncomfortable with liquid dripping from eyes in a work situation corresponds to the gender with more of the hormone that increases the threshold for water-dripping-from-eyes, thus creating a presumption that some strong / non-work-appropriate emotion is being expressed.

          We don’t do this with runny noses or sweaty palms in the workplace. I mean, we (most of us) consider them other-than-ideal…but we don’t presume a problematic lack of equilibrium or personal control.

          Conversely, people who don’t understand why more men find tears distressing or hard to deal with could benefit from realizing why, to a rough first approximation, more men’s experience with tears has to do with strong emotion (and that it’s not only / not just social conditioning).

      7. Mature*

        Agreed. Unprofessional. And the manager should not approach this as gender differences. It is insulting to females who do NOT do this in the workplace. This is a maturity issue.

      8. Fikly*

        Beyond being a bad look, whether or not you cry, and being able to control whether or not you cry, has nothing to do with ones intelligence.

      9. Christine D*

        I’m a woman in her 30’s, and I cried in front of my manager at my last annual review. I went into the meeting feeling like I had really slacked off in the past year and was super nervous about it all. He started the meeting off asking how I felt I was doing and while I tried to explain that I didn’t feel confident I performed at my best this year, the tears started to fall. I kept myself professional and wasn’t sobbing or anything, but could NOT stop the physical reaction of tears when explaining my stance. He was shocked because he thought I did a great job and already had a written annual review in hand with high praise and a decent pay increase. He asked where the disconnect might be coming from and I confided in him that my 3 year old was recently diagnosed on the autism spectrum and we were navigating the shock of that diagnosis and the maze of ABA therapy, insurance, etc. And that I was also in limbo awaiting what could be a MS diagnosis at the same time. I had been seriously preoccupied with life events and felt I wasn’t on my top game at work. He assured me I was doing fine, especially given life circumstances, and that he’d been behind closed doors with MANY people who had cried over poor performance evaluations, cried while angry over a decision made at work they didn’t agree with, cried while shouting in anger, etc. He assured me crying at work wasn’t some weird anomaly that never happened, and that sometimes it was 100% reasonable to do. He even joked that if he was going to be in an awkward meeting where someone cried, he much preferred it to be by someone concerned about doing a good job and not by someone scream-crying at him over how HE was doing a bad job as a manager.

        Crying at work happens sometime, and I’m immensely grateful I have such an understanding boss!

    2. NerdyKris*

      It is inappropriate to cry every time you receive feedback, and any reasonable person would not be faulted for feeling uncomfortable. That’s not sexism. That’s a natural reaction to a person looking like they’re wildly over reacting. It would be the same if they started laughing maniacally or raised their voice. They can’t expect everyone to ignore common social cues that the person is upset.

      1. Mary*

        If someone is saying, “sorry, this is how I react under stress, I’m fine, please continue”, then you absolutely can. You listen to their words and you take responsibility for handling your discomfort, same as if you’re talking to someone who has a disability which makes you uncomfortable.

        1. fposte*

          Except there’s no requirement to accept a behavior just because it’s related to a disability. There are lots of letters about employees whose anxiety, phobias, OCD, etc. are interfering with their work.

          That’s great that the OP can still give feedback when her employee is crying, but not everybody could manage that–tears are an evolutionary sign of distress that it’s really hard not to respond to. I’m glad Mary has found a manager who can work with her, but I wouldn’t automatically consider a manager evil if they couldn’t.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            Yes. To the extent that I know I have seen comments on this site multiple times where people have said “if it’s driving an employee to tears, you/your manager/your company is doing something terribly wrong, because that’s a very bad sign.” It’s a deeply ingrained and gut-level response to crying that says ‘something here is very wrong.’ I’m not sure I could control my discomfort and anxiety about regularly make tears stream down someone’s face any more than they could control the tears.

          2. Mary*

            Yes—I think part of creating more diverse workspaces is being very clear on the difference between “this is interfering with your work” and “this is making others uncomfortable because it’s not conforming to a narrow set of behaviours which was codified as “professional” when only a very small and homogenous section of society was allowed into professional spaces”. That also means the onus is on everyone else to handle some level of discomfort and really interrogate whether something is causing a disruption or whether it’s simply a stigmatised behaviour that a workplace can quite easily acccommodate.

            1. Turtle Candle*

              I suppose I’m trying to figure out how to express to the rest of the company “when she cries, she’s not upset, it’s a physiological reaction, so act as if nothing’s happening.” Because I’m also not sure that telling people globally “if someone starts crying, just ignore it”–we’ve seen plenty of letters here where people were driven to tears by things that should be taken seriously and not ignored.

              Because “don’t have tears streaming down your face when you hear mild criticism” is not a narrow set of behaviors. It doesn’t exclude tearing up, or even occasionally bursting into tears. It’s dramatic and emotionally unsettling that most people will have a hard time ignoring it without an explanation and practice.

              1. Turtle Candle*

                (To be clear, that’s not ‘dramatic’ as in ‘she’s a drama queen;’ she clearly isn’t. I mean ‘dramatic’ as in ‘sufficiently elevated from normal daily tenor as to be noticeable,’ like a dramatic scene in a movie.)

            2. fposte*

              Though you could say the same thing about yelling–that that’s a problem only if the people who hear it don’t control their own responses. Ultimately, I don’t think that works as a defense for either.

              And all work standards are subjective, and all work standards come from who sets them; that’s true of dress and communications as well as tears and yelling. I don’t think that makes them inherently problematic, especially when you’re talking, again, about something that’s evolutionarily established as something that people need to respond to. Somebody who screams in alarm repeatedly would be similar–it’s not necessarily voluntary, but it’s still something that a manager can reasonably expect somebody to work on controlling.

              1. Turtle Candle*

                This is how I feel, because I have both a husband and a brother who for (different, but both medical; one neurological, one mental health related) reasons, have trouble controlling their volume and perceived aggression when stressed. Neither of them name-call or insult, but they both get loud/pushy. In both cases, it’s an involuntary response to stress, difficult or impossible to control, and they often can’t tell they’re doing it.

                So it’s a reasonable question: if what you do causes significant distress in others, how much is it on you to control it, or on them to ignore it? Husband and brother both work very, very hard to control it. But I can’t blame coworkers who are taken aback and treat them (and talk about them) differently when they do slide, because it’s alarming to be shouted at.

                I anticipate getting a lot of response comments saying one of two things. One: this is different because crying isn’t as alarming as yelling. (But if it’s truly involuntary, that shouldn’t matter; they can’t help it either way.) Two, that this never happens, medical issues never cause volume control problems or outbursts. (They do. It’s uncomfortable and unfortunate, but they do.) But honestly? This is a true struggle for some people, as much as crying is.

                1. fposte*

                  Yes, that’s where I land as well. I think it’s reasonable to say “Hey, there are social and gender conventions worth questioning here,” but I don’t think it’s kosher to restrict that examination just to one emotional expression, and it’s useful to consider that just as the OP’s fellow managers come with their preconceptions so too do we.

                2. Turtle Candle*

                  Yeah. I mean, it would be convenient if nobody ever yelled or got aggressive as an involuntary stress response, but it’s simply not the case. (Increased aggression can in fact be a symptom of several different medical conditions, with varying degrees of severity and controllability. In the vast majority of cases it’s just volume/tone, and never escalates to physical danger.) That’s a very real medical issue that may or may not be under someone’s control.

                  And still I can’t imagine ever telling someone “oh, when they start yelling at you, just continue the conversation as normal. It’s an involuntary response, and they’re working on it, but it may never be fully controlled.” But sometimes that’s the case, and I think as with Mary, it has to be a give and take of really-and-truly working on it and compassion from others.

                3. Mary*

                  I don’t think you can discuss crying vs anger neutrally as if they weren’t gendered and haven’t been treated very different socially. Anger, because it’s coded male, has often been validated and explained away as, “s/he can’t help it”, and has even been welcomed or seen as a sign of strength, passion or commitment in workplaces. So it’s coming from a very different place.

                  I think the test of whether anger is really “uncontrollable” is whether people display it at times and towards people who can enforce consequences. If you only “lose it” with people more junior to you who are safe to shout at, and somehow never lose it with the boss, then you clearly do have that anger under control. If it’s anger that genuinely can’t be controlled, and where the inability to control anger has had or frequently has negative repercussions for the angry person, about which they are distressed, then yes, I do think it should be treated the same as crying.

                  Also, I don’t think it’s bad if either crying too much or being too angry makes you unsuitable for particular types of work! I think it’s perfectly legit to say that Mary’s habit of crying under stress makes her unsuitable for certain kinds of client-facing work. In particular, if you start to cry in a situation where you hold the power–if you were an oncologist and you got so upset telling patients that they have cancer that it impacted on your ability to communicate with the patients — then you’re in the wrong role. But I absolutely think it’s reasonable to expect people in a position of power or senior people who are being paid a lot of money to take on some of the responsibility of handling their own discomfort around visible and stigmatised emotions in the people they are managing, just as it’s reasonable to expect people to adjust to other changes in the workplace.

            3. Eukomos*

              But crying doesn’t make people uncomfortable merely because it’s nonconforming, it makes people uncomfortable because it’s usually a sign of acute distress. We reflect that distress and want to resolve it for the person we see it in, that’s completely normal, natural, and involuntary. Asking people to react differently when they see you cry is asking them to do something pretty difficult and distressing on your behalf, and I think it’s unreasonable to expect them not to express any discomfort with the situation.

              1. Mary*

                I think the idea that it’s “acute” distress is gendered (and, on the flip side, that it’s manipulative.) Talk to women about crying and a *lot* of us will say that it happens to us under what is in fact a perfectly manageable amount of stress in the workplace. The idea that crying automatically means “this person is experiencing an intolerable emotion and this is a problem that must be Solved” is *also* an emotional reaction, and one which the observer doesn’t have to react to. That’s exactly what I meant in my first comment: we don’t have to put the burden of “do not experience this awkward and inappropriate emotion” entirely on the crying person. The person whose reaction to crying is “whoa FIX THIS! make it STOP!” is also having an unhelpful emotional reaction and can learn to manage that reaction better.

                I work in a counselling-adjacent profession, and although it’s not the norm for my clients to cry, it’s not unheard of. You learn to say, “are you ok? Do you want me to continue?” And if someone says, “no, it’s fine, I just—please carry on!”, you carry on and nine times out of ten, it is. In the same way that managers learn to coach and learn to deal with people who talk too much and people who don’t talk enough and people who need clear instructions and people who need a lot of autonomy, you can learn to deal with people who cry easily.

                1. Avasarala*

                  As a woman, if I am crying in my non-counselling-adjacent profession, it definitely signifies an intolerable emotion and a problem that must be solved. People should not be moved to tears by average office work. If someone cries easily under any stress, it’s on them to tell their manager, as Mary did, or else people will interpret it as something wrong, as her coworkers did.

                  I don’t like this vein of comments suggesting that crying is no big deal in the office because women do it. I would hope people respond as our monkey instincts naturally suggest, and let the person crying inform them whether they need help.

          3. kt*

            At some point, though, if you have a really good employee, you have to decide whether you’re ready to fire someone who does good work just because they have a physical condition you can’t handle emotionally.

            I wouldn’t necessarily consider such a manager evil, but I would think they’re not very good at their job.

            1. fposte*

              I think that’s just too broad to say, otherwise you have to mean that’s true no matter what the physical response is and regardless of its effects on co-workers, customers, patients, and clients.

          4. JSPA*

            This one’s a really low bar, as far as accommodation, though. “I can’t fly, so I need to take 4 days to drive across the country for the quarterly meeting” is a much bigger deal than, “I have overactive tear ducts / a low physical threshold for leaky eyes, relative to my emotional state, so please continue, and I will continue to be professional in every other aspect of my demeanor as well.”

          1. Sad Panda*

            The point is that crying like this is not an emotion. If you’ll see in the comments there are many people whose tears are not rationally/proportionally related to their emotions. If you are one of these people (and I am), trying to hold back tears is about as useless as trying to suppress one’s breathing. Its a physical process that you don’t have control over, and if we did have control over it, we would choose not to cry.

            1. JSPA*

              I’m n0t a physiologically easy cryer, but I’ve had several friends and coworkers who were / are / became so. They were no less controlled or less serene or more drama prone than anyone else.

              I have also had to deal with people who seemed to luxuriate in drama, or were oppositional in ways that included tears, or who lost composure and bawled.

              Category error, to combine the two.

          2. Liz*

            It sounds like she is managing her emotions, though. She is remaining calm and asking the manager to ignore her automatic reaction, and to continue. Sometimes these kinds of reactions are more physiological than emotional, and trying to control the tears actually causes MORE distress and emotional upset. If she were sobbing loudly and declaring that she can’t handle the feedback, then that would be more of a problem, but she’s not. It sounds like she’s actually very controlled.

          3. Mary*

            Someone who is saying, “sorry, this is how I react under stress, please continue” and who then demonstrated their IS handling their emotions. Your job is to handle yours. There’s nothing wrong with feeling uncomfortable, but you handle it and carry on doing the work.

            I think there’s a massive difference between behaviour that makes someone feel threatened or scared, and behaviour that makes someone uncomfortable because it doesn’t conform to the traditional white-male-middle-class norm. I absolutely think we should destigmatise the latter as part of making professional workspaces more accommodating to more diverse groups of people.

          4. Tiny Soprano*

            She’s getting CBT for this condition. That IS her taking responsibility. CBT doesn’t work instantly, and it’s not always easy, but she’s looped her manager into the fact that she’s getting help for this condition that she knows isn’t appropriate at work. Let’s not ignore that.

      2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        This. It would make me uncomfortable too if it happened every single time I gave feedback.

      3. CurrentlyBill*

        Just like ours inappropriate to use an elevator everyone your go up one floor or down two floors. And it’s inappropriate to regularly take time off for a dialysis appointment. And it’s inappropriate to ask for a different chair because your back hurts. And it’s inappropriate to where wrist braces at work while using a keyboard.

        It sounds like the person crying may be living with PBA (pseudo bulbar affect/emotional lability) which is coming after a stroke or TBI. It results in laughter or years and times you would not expect them.

        After I had my stroke, I would cry at physical effort, stress, or about number of other things. I want sad or depressed or angry or having any emotional experience. It would just happen while o continued processing everything as if I wasn’t.

        I don’t know if that’s what OP’s employee is dealing with, but it sounds like she accepts feedback just fine.

        Able-ist assumptions about people with disabilities are dangerous. We struggle enough to earn a living and love our lives. The ADA is needed more than ever in the US. And giving feedback while someone cries is absolutely a reasonable accommodation.

    3. Eukomos*

      To be fair, we’re all pretty uncomfortable around crying people. It’s a distress signal, you’re supposed to be uncomfortable.

      1. Mary*

        I think it’s ok to be uncomfortable!

        But if the person crying is telling you that they’re ok to carry on, please excuse them, they are still focussed on the task, I
        think the professional thing to do is to manage your discomfort. Discomfort doesn’t always mean the other person has to fix something.

        1. Eukomos*

          That is a lot of discomfort to push onto her managers, though, especially in a workplace setting. And a major part of how many of us manage discomfort is by discussing the situation with others, especially those in similar situations who can give us feedback on how they’re handling it.

          I just don’t think it was unreasonable of these guys to share with each other that they’re discomfited by the situation, and it’s not crazy of them to find it unprofessional. They certainly should not have used the word stupid, that’s over the line, but expecting them to just sit with this level of discomfort and not let it affect them one iota every time they need to give some feedback is a pretty tall order.

        2. Mary*

          There’s a big difference between saying, “I am uncomfortable with this situation, how do we handle it”, which is taking some responsibility for handling it, and saying, “X is unprofessional and bad, they should fix this”, which is not.

    4. Spencer Hastings*

      You know what offends me, as a woman? The idea that anyone who thinks it’s unprofessional to cry, in front of other people, over normal work setbacks is a misogynist.

      This particular employee isn’t as bad as the ones we’ve heard about in some letters, but I do think that maintaining an even emotional keel is an important component of professionalism, and I’m not surprised that people who deal with this person are uncomfortable. That’s part of being an empathic human, isn’t it? Someone in your vicinity is crying, and you think “Oh no, this person has a big problem!”

      1. Fikly*

        You don’t have to be an active misogynist to have misogynist ideas due to growing up in a very misogynist culture.

        This is why many women express misogynist ideas, both to other women, and in how they view themselves.

        1. Avasarala*

          It’s not internalized misogyny to believe that people should not express signs of distress at work. And if they have no choice due to medical reasons, then they take the steps like Mary to explain it, and it should be explained to the coworkers as well.

          And it’s pretty gross to chalk up disagreement to internalized bias. It’s the “heads I win tails you lose” of calling out bigotry.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            It’s the “heads I win tails you lose” of calling out bigotry.

            Oh gosh yes. I don’t know how often my own experience of mental illness has been dismissed that way.

          2. Blueberry*

            No signs of distress, ever? Even after someone leans over the desk and calls one a “stupid #$$#”? Even after all the work one did on a project over the last week got thrown out because someone else decided that this year we are organizing the project differently *and* one then got yelled at for “doing nothing on the project all week, what are you even spending your time on”? Not even when a student died? Not even when someone accuses one of “want[ing] the patients to die” because one misfiled a note? for a couple of examples from my past.

            I mean, my intention in this thread is not to argue that crying at work is fine, I’m trying to explain some of why it happens to some of us and why it isn’t necessarily the worst and most unprofessional thing ever. Saying that some of the reasons it happens and some of the reasons people particularly despise crying are gender linked is not saying that all women cry or that women are particularly fragile.

  2. miss_chevious*

    “Manageress.” Manageress. MANAGERESS?

    I just … I don’t… what the actual eff? Who does that?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I am picturing a costume, somewhere between Abbess and Caped Superhero.

          And no, it is not OK to call your manager either of those, either, unless those happen to be her literal job titles.

        2. Helena1*

          To be fair, it is a real word in British English, usually the manageress of a shop or restaurant.

          I haven’t heard it in real life since about 1986, but it isn’t a made up joke word like Lady Doctoress.

      1. miss_chevious*

        Oh my god, yes! It’s exactly the Milady Man, the same one who pushes in front of you to open doors and walks on the outside of the sidewalk to protect you from muggers.

        1. NaN*

          The same guy also gets really uncomfortable if you open the door for him. If I get to the door first or if I’m the one on the right side or whatever, my instinct is to grab the door and hold it for the other person. I’ve gotten some really uncomfortable looks from guys and weird pauses in the conversation if we were in the middle of talking. There’s a little bit of “hah, now you know how I feel” in it for me, so I guess I should start just opening the door and walking through it immediately instead.

          1. Wing Leader*

            I held the door for a random guy in public several weeks ago (pre-covid), and he legit got angry and said he was not walking through a door that a woman held open for him. Whatever, jerk. Next time I’ll just let it slap you in the face then. I cannot believe how some people are about this stuff.

          2. Idril Celebrindal*

            I held a door for a guy once who was a little ways behind me, and he started walking so fast he was basically running, and when he got to the door he reached over my head to hold the door and told me to go first saying that he couldn’t possibly go through the door before a lady, that he was a gentleman and had to hold the door for me. We stared at each other for a while, with him gesturing me through the door before I gave in. It was blindingly obvious that he only did it for virtue signalling, to make himself feel good, and he only viewed me as a stage prop in his ego musical. So awkward. I still wish I’d called him out, but I was just graduated from conservative Christian college and the socialization is a powerful thing.

        2. PLM*

          I like a display of manners such as when a man walks on the outside, or holds the door. Referring to someone as manageress or M’lady has nothing to do with manners , it’s just being a bit of an odd duck and should be called out.

          1. Aquawoman*

            There’s a difference between holding a door for a person with normal consideration of another human, and (imagine curly, elaborate font) Holding Yon Door for the Fair Member of the Weaker Sex. I’ve seen dudes on the interwebs who apparently think that holding a door for a lady is akin to stepping in front of her when someone is pointing a gun at her. These are the same guys who also seem to believe that they went personally down with the Titanic because of they gave up their seat for a lady and that wanting equality means being willing to be punched in the face by a guy (because that’s what guys do to each other? I guess?)

            1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

              Are these the same guys who stand in the doorway whilst holding the door open, thus ensuring you cannot actually go through the door they are so Nobly holding open for you?

              (I sometimes wonder if some people consider this a feature – they get to proclaim that they are being Noble by Holding Yon Door for the Fair Member of the Weaker Sex, and also get to make a big deal when the Fair Member of the Weaker Sex doesn’t pass through Yon Door which they are so Nobly Holding.)

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                Oooh, I had a creepy guy in the office do this once. He had a track record of being a scary creep, so to this day, I think he did it on purpose. He was holding the door for me, but in such a way that I could not walk through the door without rubbing my whole body against his. I ended up saying “you go ahead”, turning around, and walking down a hallway and to a different entrance. I just couldn’t bring myself to go through that door with him there.

                1. Pennyworth*

                  I’d be inclined to say ‘Dude, if you are going to hold the door open for me you need to learn how to do it like a decent human not a creep.’ Before walking away.

              2. Windchime*

                Yes, I hate this. “Let me hold the door open for you so that you have to squeeze your body past mine to get through”. Uh, no thanks.

            2. Amaranth*

              Those are the ones who hold a door *with flair* — they make gestures like they’re Sir Walter Raleigh laying down his cloak for the Queen. I’m never sure if they are excessively giddy and trying to share the joy (or high), or its a flirtation or show for the masses.

          2. Wing Leader*

            The problem with manners is that people only apply those behaviors from men to women. If there was a man who insisted on being “gentlemanly” by holding the door open, would he still do that for another man? Probably not. If you truly want to be mannerly, then you extend common courtesy and respect to all humans you encounter, regardless of gender.

          3. Yorick*

            There’s a difference between manners and a performance of chivalry because someone is sexist. If you’ve never experienced the latter, just be grateful.

        3. SD*

          My father always told me he was walking next to the street to protect me/Mom/sister from roadside splashing and such. I always envisioned a Model T splashing up the mud from a puddle on an unpaved street. Dad was born in 1916. Time to get over it, dudes.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              “More than just mud” is the key. Horse manure in the streets was a real problem, back in the day. That is why “street sweeper” was a thing. One early argument for automobiles was reduced pollution.

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            My dad always said it was in case a car swerved – he wanted to make sure he was the one hurt, not me. I’ve instinctively started doing the same when out walking with my own daughter.

            1. Amanda*

              My husband does this with me and with his mom. He also does it with his brother. There’s absolutely a difference between caring for someone and just being sexist. You’re perfectly fine!

              1. Third or Nothing!*

                My husband does it too from time to time if he’s out with us! But only when he notices that traffic is super busy. And only when he’s not holding our daughter. He’s literally bigger and stronger than me and more likely to survive an accident so it does make sense for him to walk next to traffic. Plus he really just loves taking care of us, and this is only one of the many ways he shows it. (Current Love Project: planting me a garden so I can have fresh herbs for cooking. YEEEES)

            2. Jules the 3rd*

              I do this too, with my kid.

              If anyone did this with me, a grown adult woman, I would be… unhappy… about being treated like a child.

              1. Third or Nothing!*

                Does the motivation and relationship to you make a difference? My husband does walk next to traffic sometimes if he happens to be out on one of our neighborhood jaunts, but honestly it’s just his desire to care for his family coming out. I think part of it comes from him just physically being much bigger and stronger than my daughter and I (he’s built like a linebacker while the rest of us are…well…not). It’s also something we talked about and agreed made sense for us for that reason. He doesn’t do that if he’s holding our daughter, though. Then I’m the one walking next to traffic. Child safety > Mom safety.

          2. kt*

            My grandpa did this too, but he’d always start telling us about manure and horses and the Model A he drove to California and the gas tanks and the water tanks and that extender thing you could attach to the car to hold said tanks… so it was kind of fun.

          3. Pennyworth*

            I have a very good friend who always walks betweeen me an the traffic. It was drilled into him when he was young and it makes him feel ucomfortable not to do it, so I am happy to go along with it.

        4. Mockingjay*

          We have one guy who always opens doors for women (very polite, very old school in manners). He held a door open the other day for me and I gently explained that for both our safety, we are observing social distancing and he needed to go through first.

          (FYI: I am one of a very limited number of essential employees keeping things ticking over at work so the rest of the company can work remotely. We have some masks, plenty of gloves, and disinfecting wipes, and a cleaning protocol to follow.)

        1. MissBliss*

          Try viewing it in another browser. I couldn’t get it to load on Safari but it did fine in Firefox.

        2. Laufey*

          Viewing on a desktop, mine showed the article scrolled all the way down to the bottom after I suspended my ad blocker. (this is not typical)

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yeah, I’ve been having the same problem the last month or so – it tells me to deactivate my adblocker for the site and refresh, I do, it tells me to deactivate my adblocker and refresh, etc. I end up switching to my phone and reading in a private browser to get around it.

        4. TechWorker*

          Fsr Inc often loads for me scrolled too far to the right, so it looks like the page is blank but if I swipe back left the content is there. Worth a try if you’re on a phone!

        5. Pennyworth*

          I am successfully getting through to Inc by right clicking the link and selecting ‘open in private window’ option.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I like fedoras. I routinely wear a hat, and while it is not technically a fedora, it is fedora-adjacent. I also am old enough to predate the modern associations they carry. I was quite startled when I learned about these associations. I think of Cary Grant. Kids nowadays don’t know who he was. Fortunately, being this old means that people don’t associate me in my hat with the modern fedora-wearer.

          It was also quite educational when I learned the modern associations of “nice guy.”

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Arsenic and Old Lace should be taught as a classic.

          2. Atlantian*

            I am unaware of these modern associations with a fedora. As an millennial obsessed with classic film, I find them incredibly attractive most of the time.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              Also, if “Atlantian” indicates SCA, you know guys like this, though in that context they aren’t wearing fedoras.

          3. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

            Do the fedora associations matter if you’re a woman wearing a fedora? I like to wear hats when I go to events, and my favorite is a black fedora (I’ve worn it to conventions and book fairs and got compliments from Nathan Fillion and James Ellroy). I also have a straw Panama hat and a black hat with roses on the brim, but the fedora is my favorite because it goes with everything.

        1. juliebulie*

          I once replied to “young lady” with “old man,” and the old man was offended. Go figure.

          1. stuck at home*

            I did that recently but he thought it was funny and still calls me “young lady”. I’m 60, probably 10 years older than him

          2. Zombeyonce*

            “Why are you upset? I thought we were referring to people by their age and gender.”

            1. Koala dreams*

              Haha, that’s funny. Much more logical than “old man”, too. It makes perfect sense!

          3. Fikly*

            This is the same thing as when Boomers who have been whining about Millenials for decades get angry about being called Boomers.

            Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

    1. Butterfly Counter*

      In the tenth grade, I had a classmate who had been convinced that Mrs. was actually short for “Mistress” (and, hey, maybe it was?).

      The first time he tried it with our teacher, “What chapter are we on, Mistress Jones?” she shut him down HARD.

      I can laugh, but I wonder if, 20 years on, he laughs or groans when remembering this.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        It is, actually, but it’s definitely not socially appropriate to un-abbreviate anymore.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes, Mistress meant something like “Respected Businesswoman Who Will Sell Me a New Loom Accessory, or a Fetching Bonnet.”

          You don’t call your doctor “Chirurgeon” even if that is linguistically historically accurate.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            Right. “Mistress” was a term of respect for an adult woman; it isn’t anymore so we don’t un-abbreviate it. It’s part of a sad historical trend of terms of respect for women acquiring… different connotations. (See also “madame,” “dame,” “diva,” “prima donna,” and even, in many contests, “princess.”)

              1. sequined histories*

                Fascinatingly, the original meaning of the word “slut” had to do with a woman’s housekeeping practices: a “slut” was a woman whose house was messy.

                1. Amy Sly*

                  “Putanesca” as a dish is derived from “puta” or “slut” — the idea was that it was good enough it seemed like the woman had spent all day in the kitchen, but it was actually so easy to make that she could make it even if she’d been … otherwise occupied.

            1. AKchic*

              I am still known as a “wench”, and many still give me the proper address as “madam”. Granted, the terms aren’t what they once were.

    2. Former Prosecutor*

      In my previous life, I was a prosecutor. One of the old male defence lawyers called any female prosecutors “Madame Prosecutrix” in and out of court.

      While it’s the proper, although gendered, term, it still made me cringe every time and made me think of “dominatrix”.

      1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

        I’m an editor and like to jokingly call myself an editrix, but only with friends, never in a professional capacity.

      2. Tiny Soprano*

        I know it’s completely different etymology, but it always makes me think ‘archaeopteryx.’
        Cue mental image of a female prosecutor stealing his lunch and flapping halfway up a wall on primitive feathers, cawing triumphantly.

    3. London Calling*

      I have a better (or worse) example than that. Back when I started work in the 1970s, my first job was in a social security office; we receive files about benefit and pension claimants for investigation. In one of them the person the file was about was described as a ‘clerkess.’

      1. London Calling*

        It gets worse. I saw a couple of women on the files whose names were respectively Jamesina and Andrewina. Anyone want to guess what their fathers were called?

        1. Turtle Candle*

          I’m trying to figure out why you wouldn’t just call them Jacqueline and Andrea, but maybe that’s not obvious enough.

          1. Old Woman in Purple*

            I met a female ‘Jaymes’ who was named after her father ‘James’; thought that was a cool solution. Agree about ‘Andrea’ as feminine version of ‘Andrew’.

        2. PhyllisB*

          When I worked for the phone company, I worked with a lady we all called Jimmie. I happened to look at the schedule one day and realized her legal name was James. Seriously. I guess her dad wanted a boy.

          1. Dancing Otter*

            My dad called me Pete. It was totally unrelated to my legal name.
            On the other hand, he expected me to be just as good at math and science as he was, so I guess his wanting a boy worked to my ultimate advantage.

            1. Minocho*

              Yeah, as the oldest child and only daughter, I am often convinced that if I hadn’t been the oldest, I would have received no notice at all from him. On the other hand, his pride demanded we all be the most intelligent children ever, and I am glad for that expectation.

              The expectation that I would learn things through psychic osmosis rather than by being taught was often annoying, however. Especially if he mocked us for not knowing something he never taught us.

    4. Everdene*

      Lady at a gym changing room ass asking me about my job once…
      Her: So you are like a lady manageress?
      Me: No, I am a manager.

      Could not believe it!!

      1. Filosofickle*

        I especially like the extra layer of sexism — not a manageress or a lady manager, but a lady manageress! WTH.

        1. AKchic*

          a male manageress manages the manageresses (manageressi?) because you can’t expect them to manage themselves!

    5. Some clever pun*

      One of the semi-retired drivers at my workplace says “manageress”. He’s a lovely fellow and we’ve talked on many topics including feminism-type topics. He’s somewhat old fashioned and was worried that calling the female mangers “mangers” would be disrespecting them, like using the wrong pronoun or something.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        In fairness, there is some legitimate anxiety about pronoun etiquette. This is a large part of why I am confident that a generation from now people will be using the universal “they” and it will be a quaint piece of historical linguistic trivia that pronouns used to be gendered. But speaking of quaint historical linguistic trivia, the English pronoun system isn’t nearly as stable as people imagine. The last major shift in personal pronouns was in the 17th century (people complained), but expand the discussion to relative pronouns (who/which/that) and things are a lot more fluid.

    6. Helena1*

      Pregnancy! I remember being in floods of tears in front of my boss, and saying “I’m actually not particularly upset by this, I’m not sure why I’m crying”. Hormones are powerful things.

    7. bluephone*

      I know a woman (in her 60s) who says stuff like this–directress, authoress, etc. I can’t tell if she think she’s being funny or what.

      1. Loubelou*

        My mum does it. She genuinely thinks it’s more respectful even though we’ve told her time and time again that it is quite the opposite. It’s very much her default and she just doesn’t understand how something that she grew up with as a polite thing is now offensive.

  3. HS Teaching*

    I love how OP1 is trying to be understanding of the employee’s struggles. I think it shows them to be a strong manager. Instead of criticizing the crying, they are trying to find ways to help the employee.

    1. The Starsong Princess*

      I had an employee who cried at every performance review. Every Single Review. He was a man in his sixties and has since retired. He was a lovely man, beloved by his colleagues, and a decent performer. He was convinced that he was getting fired every time and always rated himself incredibly low. It was a result of past trauma in his life including his Vietnam War service.

      I (a female) was able to deal with him but it drove my boss crazy. My thinking was it was only a few times a year and he was a good performer so giving him so emotional support was ok. My boss eventually recused himself from the whole process, he just could not handle it. I think it reflected more on my boss than the employee and I told him so.

      1. Retro*

        I’m so glad you were able to give him that space and support to be human during the performance review. I think we’re not always allowed to be truly human in the workplace, so it is very refreshing of you to be supportive of that.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Oof. I got cried at by my then-SO of two years (a man in his early 50s) while he was dumping me out of the blue. I admit I reacted kind of like your boss. I internally freaked out and said a lot of things to get him to stop, that I wouldn’t have said to him otherwise, the most memorable being “you deserve better”. (Still kicking myself for that one.) That was almost ten years ago and I am now closer to an understanding that crying is an involuntary physical reaction some of us have, but it did scare me back then.

  4. Serafina*

    The male coworkers need to be slapped down HARD. LW should say something to HR – there’s a clear sexism (and possible ADA violation) in their gossip and derision, and it needs to be nipped in the bud now.

      1. Me*

        If she has a diagnosed medical condition such as anxiety that requires accommodations, there are businesses that will shut that gossip down faster than a blink of an eye because they don’t even want a whiff of what could be deemed discrimination (this is a manager) against an employee.

        Not saying this employee does or has requested ADA accommodations, but that’s where someone could find them selves on the wrong side of an HR department.

        1. Courtney Kupets*

          You could say that about almost every physical emotional reaction though. It could be the case, but…

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s possible the crying is linked to a covered disability, but there’s no evidence that it is and the employer isn’t required to act on the possibility that it could be when there are lots of other explanations. No ADA issue here so far.

    1. Retro*

      I don’t agree that this is something OP can’t spend some capital on to try and shift their opinions first. A conversation with the offending party is the first line of defense, and OP as Mary’s supervisor is in the exact best place to advocate for Mary. I think it would do the male colleagues a service to be reminded of how stinging feedback can be especially at an early time in your career and that employees are not immune to emotions. And to refocus them on Mary’s great performance and ability to improve off their feedback. Challenge the male collegues to come up with instances where Mary has made them feel uncomfortable and unprofessional outside of the crying and ask whether you’d consider another colleague who didn’t cry but never improved off feedback unprofessional or stupid.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I want to be clear that what OP is describing is not Mary cried once or twice when receiving critical feedback, “Every time she gets critical feedback (even very mild and accompanied by praise), she turns bright red and starts crying … like, a lot. Tears streaming down her face.”

        I totally get that crying at work has a gender bias, but this is more than that, I suspect another male coworker would get a similar reaction. Finding excessive crying unprofessional does not mean you can’t find it unprofessional to never improve on feedback, I think both issues can be unprofessional at the same time.

        I think OP should approach Mary and ask if she would be okay with OP disclosing the issue that Mary has to the other managers so that OP can say “Mary has a condition that causes unwanted crying in response to stress and she is seeking treatment. But I have always found that she takes the feed back seriously and tries to improve.”

        I have done my fair share of crying and supported people who are crying in social/personal lives I have no problem with crying. But I have to admit that without context, I would find someone that cried every time they received critical feedback unprofessional.

    2. Just J.*

      I agree on having a VERY pointed conversation with the male co-workers. I’d be asking them how they deal with negative feedback? Do they just “suck it up”? Or do they yell, do they go hit something (if so, preferably a punching bag in a gym), do they drink, do they go drive fast? Do they themselves cry? Or do they pause, breathe, meditate, re-focus?

      I’d be having the conversation that if you, male co-workers, are uncomfortable in a situation then do something POSITIVE to fix it. Step up. Be kind, be professional, be helpful. Right now, they are just being jerks.

      1. Clear Teary Eyes*

        Maybe ask if they would react the same to a colleague whose face reddened with embarrassment or anger in response to feedback. Not ideal, sure, but a physiological response. I think there’s what you can control and what you can’t, and sometimes crying is something you can’t. (And especially if you are aware that you need to stop, because that just makes it worse.)

  5. Show Me the Money*

    I hope Mary’s CBT is effective, she has a tough road ahead if not. It’s not just the crying, but the regularity and extremity of it that is problematic. Even women can be uncomfortable with other women who do this.

    1. Just J.*

      This is BS. If you wish to say that there is a problem with crying, then I am calling out every one who yells, swears, or berates their employees. THAT is problematic. This employees is not crying AT you.

      1. Massmatt*

        Basically all of those behaviors SHOULD be called out, because they are unacceptable in most if not all workplaces. But it’s not an either/or situation, crying regularly when getting in the workplace is unprofessional. It’s odd behavior and unrealistic to think people aren’t going to talk about it.

        1. Just J.*

          To me it is either / or. Mary’s crying is unusual and is working to fix it. If I were in OP shoes, I would be advocating for Mary and letting people know that Mary is indeed working on this. If Mary were not aware or were not working on it, then different story.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            How is it either/or? You really think we can only consider one side inappropriate but not both? I think you are missing the part about it being very constant on even mild critical feedback. If someone yelled or cursed every time they got mild critical feedback that would be unprofessional too. Yelling, swearing at work constantly I think is unprofessional, but if someone did it occasionally I would overlook it and pretend i didn’t see/hear it the same way I would act if someone occasionally cried due to critical feedback.

            1. Jill*

              It’s either/or because Mary is aware that she has a problem and is in actual therapy to fix it. She doesn’t need to be coached on something she’s already trying to manage, and HR might even be aware of it already if it’s specialized behavioral therapy. The coworkers gossiping don’t even know that they did something wrong.

      2. Retro*

        I do think there is a problem with yelling, swearing, and berating employees. Unfortunately, I don’t always think that those things hinder one’s professional progression like crying excessively can. If people perceive you as unstable under stress due to crying at the slightest stressful situation, then you miss out on projects where you can really shine because people are hesitant to put you under the stress of a high visibility project.

        Another point is the frequency of the crying which can be applied to frequency of yelling, swearing, or berating. If Mary cries under a really high stress situation once in a while, it can be understandable. Same with if a coworker yells or snaps at you briefly because they’re having a bad day. Yelling is definitely more problematic, but if the offense isn’t repeated, it’s an outburst of emotion. But if someone is crying or yelling everyone, that’s when it becomes a problem. I don’t think Show Me the Money is pointing out that Mary’s crying is wrong or to invalidate her emotions, it’s the frequency of the crying that is a problem for Mary’s professional development.

        1. Retro*

          To clarify, I’m not saying that yelling, swearing or berating employees shouldn’t hinder your progression, but I do believe crying will unfairly hinder you over the effects of yelling, swearing, or berating.

          1. Just J.*

            Nope. As a manager, I will be put on a PIP real fast if you are yelling, swearing or berating your colleagues.

            1. Retro*

              But Just J, that’s assuming that you’re working in a functional workplace.

              I agree that in a healthy workplace, there should be a reprimand for that sort of behavior. I wouldn’t say someone should be immediately placed on PIP from a single incident, but a stern talking to is definitely needed. We shouldn’t rob people of having the chance to improve unless the offense is extremely serious. And in a healthy workplace, the occassional cry is tolerated and met with sympathy and understanding.

              However, in the opposite case, in an unhealthy workplace, as is the case often in these letters, crying is weakness and yelling and berating your employees is firm leadership. The point I was making was that Mary’s crying is a hindrance to her because it’s a hindrance in both a healthy and unhealthy workplace.

            2. TootsNYC*

              and it might be less about whether you’ll meet official pushback, and more about how your reputation might suffer–or not.

        2. Show Me the Money*

          Too clarify, I never said Mary was wrong or invalidated her emotions, if I could do that.

          I understand that the commentariat here leans to heavy sympathy for those with mental disorders in the workplace. Mentally ill people need to earn a living too. That doesn’t mean it is a cakewalk for others in the office to deal with. Not everyone has the temperment of a therapist and find managing difficult situations like this above their pay grade. In 40 years of work I have never run across a chronic cryer and would not know how to handle it.

          There is also a chronic misunderstanding of ADA on this board. Not every condition rises to the level of qualifying for accomodation, as there are specific criteria that must be met. Even then, if there is no accomodation the employer can make that doesn’t result in undue hardship (not giving negative feedback is not an option), the employer is not required to accomodate.

          Are there any men chronic cryers? Would they receive the same level of understanding? I’m just curious.

      3. Turtle Candle*

        Yes! Please do call out people who do those things! The world would be a better place if more people did that.

        But that’s not mutually exclusive with saying “I hope Mary gets a handle on this because it makes people really uncomfortable.” It’s not as if we’re playing the Price is Right and behind door 1 is ‘no yelling’ and behind door 2 is ‘less crying’ and you can pick only one.

        1. fposte*

          Yes! Crying means something, and it’s hard-wired in us for it to mean something. That doesn’t mean each instance of crying is unchangeable, and I hope Mary’s DBT helps her on this, but it absolutely is problem as a regular response, and it would be wrong to tell the other co-workers that it’s not a problem; as Alison says, it’s a problem that’s under satisfactory control.

          And while employees shouldn’t be calling her stupid, if she cries so frequently that they know it’s often, that’s hard on them too, and I’d factor that into my response to them.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Yes. I wept through a few medical appointments, all unexpected, and the medical staff got why I was doing that. And yet! Had a discussion of my insurance resulted in the office staff weeping I would have felt uncomfortable and like this was unprofessional. The only reason I can think of shrugging it off is something akin to my own situation, where some outside stress like mom in the hospital means she cries at everything today and I’m human and I get that. But crying at everything every day is not normal and people will be uncomfortable and there will be professional consequences as they try to avoid the weeper.

      4. Observer*

        You must be new here. I don’t think there is a single person here who thinks that this kind of behavior is remotely appropriate. Allison certainly doesn’t!

        But that has nothing to do with the situation at hand. We have absolutely no reason to believe that the OP tolerates that kind of behavior. We don’t even know that the other people mentioned tolerate that kind of behavior.

        1. Blueberry*

          I dunno. I’m not precisely new, here or elsewhere, but in my experience of working, yelling and name-calling and swearing are far more tolerated than crying. I had a job (not one of the medical ones) where a coworker used to yell at me (voice raised, insults such as “are you stupid?” and “why do we pay you?”) and when I complained to my supervisor I was told ‘they’re just stressed’ and ‘they care a lot’, but whenever I cried, even if the bathroom, my supervisor and others above my level would unlock the bathroom and make me leave it so they could scold me.

          I have seen quite often that yelling is treated far more leniently than crying in , US workplaces, and I personally would rather deal with crying than with yelling. People don’t usually cry *at* me.

          1. TechWorker*

            I think scolding people for crying (especially when they’re still mid-cry?!) is a whole new level beyond considering repeated crying unprofessional or feeling awkward in the moment. I really do not think that workplace is the norm – luckily – it sounds awful!

          2. Fikly*

            You have taken your ideas about what is appropriate in the workplace from the abuse you experienced in your job. It is terrible that you experienced this, but that doesn’t mean they were right.

            1. Blueberry*

              This is a useful reminder, thank you. :) Just because something is common doesn’t necessarily make it normal, let alone ok.

      5. Susie Q*

        How do you know OP isn’t doing this? Also, you can cry at someone and use it as manipulation. I speak from personal experience. I’ve done this when I was a teenager.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      Yeah I was about to say, I wouldn’t automatically jumped to thinking this is a gender issue. I’m a woman and I would be super uncomfortable is anyone, man or woman, cried in my office with the frequency that they’re describing.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Perception of crying is always at least somewhat gendered, but it’s beyond that as described. IMO it should be okay to cry at work, we are human and stressful events happen. Crying should not automatically be labeled unprofessional. But frequent tears streaming for even slight feedback is beyond that level and she’s wise to be seeking help with regulating that response. (And no, I don’t believe yelling, berating, or swearing are appropriate either. Even less so.)

        It’s impressive that both Mary and OP are able to ignore the visible symptoms to continue the conversation without comment. The OP is a good manager to have her back like this and want to know how to protect the reputation of a good employee.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          Yes, agreed. I have a coworker somewhat like this (frequent, full-on crying), and… the net effect is that while she and her manager manage to continue conversations, it’s really, really hard for any coworkers to give feedback (even stuff like “looks like you’ve been writing these reports based on older versions. can you double-check that in the future?”). Not because they’re not compassionate or are nasty or dislike her–in fact, the more compassionate they are, the more they tend to walk on eggshells, because feeling like a jerk when you make someone cry is a very normal response. It’s very stressful to go into a conversation knowing that you’re going to make someone cry, and it provokes a lot of anxiety, and so they avoid it. (Her manager handles it pretty well, FWIW, but this is a role where she–appropriately–gets feedback not just from her manager, but from other members of the teams she works with.)

          Maybe in a perfect world they would be able to ignore it, and get over the gut-level, you-learned-this-when-you-were-three fact that making someone cry is a bad thing. But that’s a pretty big expectation, and not getting feedback, or getting it softpedaled, or having people walk on eggshells around her, definitely holds her back in some concrete ways. More than once I’ve seen her get over her upset much faster than the person whose comment prompted her crying does. And even apart from ‘it’s not great for her professional development to get her feedback softened to the point of near-nonexistence,’ it’s also not great for her work relationships that people get really uncomfortable when they need to approach her about something.

          tl;dr: nobody should be mean to Mary, obviously, and yes, this is a gendered thing, but I second the hope that she can get a handle on this, because it’s very likely to have a noticeable impact on her work life.

          1. Atlantian*

            Unfortunately, at least for me, all the compassion, walking on eggshells, etc, only makes it worse. Mostly because it’s so blatantly obvious that’s what you’re doing and now, in addition to feeling whatever emotion led to the crying response and embarrassment about the crying, I also feel guilty and embarrassed about the fact that this response I can’t control is inconveniencing you. Please, please, just act like you would with anyone else. Especially if the crier has asked you to.

            1. Eukomos*

              That’s hard, though. Most people find making someone cry upsetting, and if you’re not in a job where that’s standard (like therapist or oncologist or something) it’s generally the kind of upset you didn’t take your job expecting to have to deal with. Having a coworker burst into tears when I have normal work interactions with them would play hell with my anxiety, and there’s no way I would be able to treat them exactly the same as I would anyone else. I could try really hard, but there’s just a limit to what I could do in that situation.

            2. Turtle Candle*

              I have a diagnosed panic disorder related to social anxiety; just as you can’t control crying, I can’t control feeling anxious about it. So who wins? Well, ideally it’s not a ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ thing, but “just act like you would if they weren’t sobbing” is just as impossible for me as avoiding streaming tears is for Mary (and you).

              This a very strong thing that we are taught generally before kindergarten: if someone is crying, they are in distress. Expecting everyone to be able to suppress that is unrealistic–especially as it’s rare that an office has only one person with a mental or physical illness.

              (My brother can’t help yelling; it’s something neurological. He can’t hear and doesn’t notice that his voice has gotten very loud and aggressive. This is diagnosed, not a made-up excuse. But I can’t imagine anyone would say ‘well, just tell them it’s a response to stress and then ignore it,’ because yelling is alarming. And… so is crying.)

              1. allathian*

                I’m not normally overly anxious, but I do react strongly to yelling. I couldn’t deal with someone like your brother in the workplace, just thinking about that makes me feel like I’ve just downed a quart of coffee, my hands are shaking so I can barely type this, and that’s just thinking about it. I couldn’t care less that the person couldn’t help the yelling, I’d just make sure not to be in the same space with them.
                I’ve cried at work, but that was a reaction to long-term stress. I’d been working 50-hour weeks for two months and then there was just that final, urgent assignment that was added at the last minute to a long and arduous project I was doing, and it was just too much. My boss (who hadn’t given me the assignment) handled it great, though, she sent me home for the rest of the day and told my coworker to take everything else off my plate so I could focus on just that urgent thing for the next week or so. I did get the whole project done on time, but after that I did need a week off to recover. I had been running on empty for too long, and the week after the project I actually got physically sick. It took me a long time to get back to normal, though.

          2. allathian*

            I know that the standard is that feedback, especially critical feedback, needs to be delivered in person. But sometimes I wonder if the criers would find it easier to accept feedback in writing? They’d get to manage their own reaction to it but wouldn’t feel forced to attempt to manage the emotions of the person giving feedback. I’m pretty sure that most managers with a crying employee would find it easier to give feedback in writing so they wouldn’t need to see the reaction.

      2. TimeCat*

        I am a woman and find crying in response to feedback really derailing. I am very careful about feedback but if we get a negative audit report I have to go over it with the employee. When people cry (which is rare) it makes it hard for me to do my job effectively.

        1. Courtney Kupets*

          Indeed. And as an employee I want to be an employee that is seen as being able to accept criticism. It’s the mark of a good employee. (obvious caveat for actual productive and not all the other issues we see here)

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            I try very hard to accept criticism well. It is rare but I have teared up at work. (This was when someone was being very kind to me). Good employees can be weepers–it’s not always something that can be controlled. I have tried physical redirection (scratching my arms, clenching fists, pinching myself, biting my lip), I have tried breathing slowly, etc. I don’t know how to control it. Thankfully, it’s not common but I’d love to control it better.

    3. Pennyworth*

      I hope she can get help too. I have experienced something similar occasionally – a combination of social anxiety, feeling overwhelmed then being accutely embarrassed by my reaction – which then looped around and just got worse and worse.

  6. Professional Cryer*

    When I was in my early 20s I was a lot like LW #1. It was extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing for me and I felt bad for my supervisor having to deal with it, but she was always gracious. Thankfully I eventually stopped crying at even the slightest criticism. I would hope that all of the other supervisors weren’t talking about it so negatively.

    I hope her supervisors can learn some grace, though this is obviously, and understandably, uncomfortable for them. Still, it can be difficult to work past this kind of response.

    1. Dasein9*

      I was a cryer in my youth too. The only thing that stopped it was transitioning and starting testosterone.

      It was not something I could help or control, though I didn’t have access to the kind of therapy that Mary is lucky enough to get.

      Now I can control that sort of thing, and the difference in experience is stark.

      1. Professional Cryer*

        I’m glad to hear that transitioning helped you with this. One of my friends indicated he can’t cry anymore since starting T. Though we weren’t discussing this particular type of crying.

    2. Blueberry*

      Oh, I hear you. My upbringing caused me to panic, and thus cry, when I was corrected, and that reaction did not serve me well in the workplace. It took most of my 20’s, and some therapy, to get past that.

      1. Professional Cryer*

        Yes I grew up very sensitive to criticism and honestly I still struggle with receiving it, but I try my best to remain calm and try to analyze the feedback I’m receiving logically. Not everyone critiquing is doing so because they hate you or want to hurt you.

        At that time, I think some of it was related to some personal stuff I was going through but wouldn’t admit to myself I was struggling. Once I got rid of that relationship and got over the relationship ending, it stopped happening. Definitely an unfortunate combination, being sensitive to criticism and dating a gaslighting emotional abuser.

        1. Blueberry*

          Definitely an unfortunate combination, being sensitive to criticism and dating a gaslighting emotional abuser.

          Oh, yes. I hear you, I do.

  7. Julia*

    I’m pretty shocked that the absence of an executive director in a three-person office would create minimal extra work for the others. I think it’s possible the LW may be envisioning that she’ll have more time to stay engaged in work than she actually will? Either that or something kind of odd is going on, because I can’t imagine a scenario in which the ED leaves and the prep work she did beforehand covers her entirely.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      A lot of EDs spend most of their time on high-dollar fundraising. If the staff isn’t picking that up while she’s gone (which is very possible, since that’s often based on relationships that are cultivated over time), it’s very possible that the extra work won’t be enormous at all.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, if my supervisor were out long-term, it would be more work for his immediate subordinate, whose duties are more like his, but very little for I and the fourth person in the department because we don’t and can’t do most of what the two higher-level people do, anyway.

    2. Mary*

      I thought she was trying to convince herself that her absence wouldn’t be a burden and in doing so is downplaying the contribution her staff will make. Equating a two-week vacation with maternity leave is illogical, and the slippery slop argument is incredibly weak.

      1. Riley*

        Agreed, it feels weirdly selfish and alarmist unless there is a history of the staff members asking for unreasonable things.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Equating a two-week vacation with maternity leave is illogical, and the slippery slop argument is incredibly weak.

        I thought that as well. Her leave is six weeks, and she’s the boss, which means people will have to work without supervision. Her leave is also a one-off, which is not easily reciprocated.

        That’s really different from a two-week vacation for an underling. True, it might actually make more day-to-day work for one another, but then they get their turn later. There is a certain amount of reciprocity. Or, if somebody has more vacation weeks, that comes with seniority.

        A maternity leave is a little different.

        1. Not working there any more*

          At least the OP is acknowledging the extra workload and doing something about it. It sucks when management does not.

          I worked in a department of 14 women. Four co-workers were on maternity leave within a four month period. I had to take over 100% of the work of employee#1, who processed extremely time sensitive actions under federal law, in addition to virtually all of my own work. I was the resident SME on her function and had done the work before I was promoted to another position but I was run ragged trying to keep up; due to it’s mandated time requirements, #1’s work took priority over mine which I had to complete anyway. My own boss had to take over a lot of work from employee #2 on leave so she could not relieve me. With one of three clerical folks (#3) out there was a backlog on paperwork (this was before everything went digital), creating issues which had to be handled by me, my boss, and another person on our level who was carrying part of #’2’s work. #4 was the first out and most of her work went to grandboss, and the rest to my boss. To add insult to injury my boss and I had to travel together to I site for a few days and still keep up with both our own work and that of others. After a few weeks of this I had to take 5 days of long-planned protected family leave to provide respite care for my elderly mother. Grandboss was supposed to take over #1’s work while I was gone since she was the only other person who knew what to do and had access to the software but she did nothing since something from great-grandboss apparently blew up. Then it got worse! I got back from leave and resumed working 10 hour days when my basement was flooded by a broken pipe. They were not happy when I had to stay home a couple of times to deal with insurance and the remediation. Then the region was hit by two hurricanes and an earthquake, causing a lot of anxiety and disruption. And if things were not bad enough, the stress of all of the above and the anniversary of a significant loss triggered some bad depression in me which I had to keep to myself.

          There was not. one. word. of thanks. from. anyone. I look back and all I can think is “those **&#$%^”

          1. What the What*

            But she’s only kind of acknowledging. She thinks she’s only leaving them with easy stuff and they don’t deserve a bonus. But if she’s added even one hour per day of work to their workload, that is a significant addition. And I suspect she’s underestimating it.

  8. Retro*

    I believe that OP should communicate that Mary is aware that crying so often is problematic and is actively trying to change that! It’s important to emphasize that Mary receives feedback and turns that feedback into actionable and measurable improvements in her performance. Tears aside, that is the best outcome that can come from somebody when you deliver feedback to them. I’d challenge your male colleagues and VP to treat the tears purely as a reflection of the stress of receiving feedback, but not a benchmark of her character in general. Allison’s point of gender differences when it comes to emotions, add onto that Mary’s age where she may not have as much practice receiving feedback in the workplace in a more formal way, those can all be contributing factors to why Mary might tear up more than others. I don’t know if it would be doing Mary a disservice to point out that she is young and growing as a professional to OP’s colleagues, but I do think it is a good point. We often forget how vulnerable and uncertain and (to be honest) WEIRD some of us were when we just started.

    It would be entirely more problematic if Mary were bursting into tears during the middle of a meeting with a client or external stakeholder as opposed to in a private conversation between Mary and a supervisor. It sounds like OP is supporting Mary in her development, so don’t be afraid to give her positive feedback if you see improvements in her work and in her tear regulation!

  9. She's One Crazy Diamond*

    Sometimes I feel confident that I could be a manager…then I read posts like this and remember how awkward I am with loved ones who cry for legitimate reasons.

    1. Wing Leader*

      Me too! I’m really bad with crying and I never know what to say. Should I give them a pat on the back? Just ignore it until they stop? Personally, I’m not a crier so this is where it gets awkward for me.

      1. TimeCat*

        It’s really hard to deal with. I am a bit Liz Lemon “it okay, don’t be cry” at first.

      2. TechWorker*

        ‘Do you want a moment before we continue?’ is a good place to start.
        For people who are welling up as a physical reaction but not actually that emotional this gives them space to be like ‘bono I’m fine’ and you permission to ignore it. I’ve not had anyone say ‘yes’ but if someone is genuinely really upset by the topic then it probably is better that they go let their emotions out and you continue the conversation after a break.

        I would *not* recommend saying ‘are you ok?’ or trying to dig into why they’re crying unless they start the conversation, because tbh (from being the cryer) it makes it worse.

        1. TechWorker*

          That was meant to be ‘no no I’m fine’, but I guess the mgr in this situation could be called bono…

          1. Thankful for AAM*

            Lol, tech worker. I was wondering if “bono” was some cool new shorthand I did not know.

  10. Jedi Squirrel*

    “Manageress” used to be fairly common in the UK, IIRC. But now it’s just weird and frankly, disrespectful.

    1. Phony Genius*

      Linguistically speaking, I would have thought the word would have been “managress,” similar to “waitress” or “actress”. Or maybe “managess,” like “stewardess.” Morphology can be really interesting.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Playing amateur linguist, my guess is that it is a matter of allowed and unallowed consonant clusters. English is pretty forgiving about consonant clusters, but “managress” doesn’t work if we keep the soft “g” sound. Something has to give. It could be switching to a hard “g” sound, but things went another way and instead kept the masculine ‘er, making “manageress” the feminine form of “manager” rather than the expected “manage.” Don’t rely on this explanation. I just made it up on the spot. But it might be right.

    2. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Agreed – and if one is pedantic, ‘manageress’ is also technically an accurate term. Just like ‘underling.’

      Wonder if the Manageress’ underling would be okay if she called him that.

    3. UKDancer*

      Indeed you’re quite right. It hasn’t been for at least 30 years in my estimation as it was old fashioned in my youth.

      Pubs often used to have a manager and a manageress and so did corner shops sometimes. But I’d not expect to hear it from anyone under about 60 and nobody I know would refer to themselves that way. I know that my mother refused to let the title be used in the 1980s when she worked for the local authority. She felt it was belittling her and drawing attention to the fact she was the only woman in a management role within the part of local government in which she worked.

      It’s been manager as long as I’ve been working and that’s a good 20 years. So I think it’s quite in order to tell the member of staff not to use that title.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      My grandmother worked in various ‘cashier’ (is that still the correct term?) type of jobs when I was growing up in the 80s and it was normal in the UK to refer to the ‘manageress’ of the shop/establishment then.

    5. Some clever pun*

      It hadn’t occured to me that this is a UK thing! I’m in the UK and an older, semi-retired person in my workplace still says “manageress”. He’s completely lovely and absolutely doesn’t mean any disrespect, just old fashioned.

  11. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    Boss doesn’t like it when I send emails: I’ve had these bosses. It is because they are doing something sketchy and they don’t want a written record to prove that you told them to do X and they’re the one who dropped the ball.

    It’s a pretty big red flag, in my experience.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Sure it can be that too. I know a fair share in my past.

      But other times it’s because they struggle with written communication and suck at email. Sometimes you just need to stop bringing your old baggage from a previous manager who you did have to make sure there’s a written trail no matter what, with you to your new manager/job.

      1. Chaordic One*


        And not just at email, but at writing in general. A surprising number of people (people with impeccable professional credentials and college degrees) are functionally illiterate and I don’t think they can write at even an eighth-grade level. (I suspect that most of the people who read this blog and comment on it are generally quite literate and can communicate in writing fairly easily.)

        OTOH, some of them are just kind of lazy and writing does require a certain amount of effort and some people can’t be bothered to put in that effort. They might do it for their supervisor, but won’t for a subordinate.

        In particular I recall a supervisor who was the head of a marketing department and he wrote beautiful copy, but who refused to communicate in writing by email with any of his subordinates.

        1. allathian*

          I need things in writing to process and understand them. I can’t retain any information unless it’s given in writing. Luckily it’s not a problem at my job, because we only accept assignments in writing. So somebody comes by my desk and asks me to answer a question and it’s perfectly fine for me to ask the person to send the assignment in writing. Of course, if it’s something that I can answer without looking it up, I will, but if it demands the slightest bit of effort on my part, it’s official channels only. I do soften it with a statement about them getting what they need right away when I have some context for their request.

      2. Fikly*

        But there’s a difference between the primary communication being email, and the primary communication being verbal, and then sending an email to confirm what was said.

        The first can be a genuine problem. The second is someone trying to avoid having something shady in writing.

    2. AnonAnon*

      It can be a red flag depending on their track record. If the OP is not in a 2 party consent state, they could record the conversations.
      However, keeping detailed notes with date and time can also be very helpful if needed going forward.
      If the conversation was serious enough, you could summarize and send a follow up email saying “per our discussion” and that way it is documented.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Or, if you want to go old school, a memorandum for the file. What file? The CYA file you keep in the bottom drawer of your desk.

        2. Jennifer C.*

          Agree – I send emails to myself to document conversations (in-person and over the phone). I note the date and time, and describe what we talked about and what each of us said. That way, when I need to remember the details of the conversation, I can search my email and find both email exchanges and descriptions of conversations.

          In addition, if there is ever a dispute over what was said, I have an email that was clearly written right after the conversation and contains the details I’ll need.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yeeeaaah, my first thought when I read it was “what is he trying to hide?”

    4. Massmatt*

      This was my first thought, or that the boss changes his mind a lot or otherwise does not want to be accountable with a record of what transpired. It’s classic organized crime boss behavior.

      His calling you out to shame you in front of others is another big warning sign, I’m giving him major side-eye.

      Alison is right that it’s the boss’s call, if he says stop emailing then stop. I would redouble efforts to keep careful notes though, be prepared for a big “I never told you_____” moment.

    5. Amethystmoon*

      I would be very uncomfortable in such a situation. My job has literally been saved more than once by my habit of saving every work-related e-mail for 1 year. The company I work at likes to blame everything on support staff. Document, document, document. Take screen prints of everything you do so it does not get turned around against you that well, he said X but you did Y.

    6. Uranus Wars*

      I think it depends on the content of the email and what they are working through. I have definitely been wrapped up in 4 hours worth of 25 shared emails with a direct report when a 10 minute conversation would flush out what they need me to clarify. Then if they want to send a follow up email I basically ignore it.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Yeah, and the letter as written suggests something beyond time management, inbox management, or trying to avoid being “caught” in print: “in front of the office [he] accused me of being nervous to talk to him.” Now, I don’t know if LW2 has other less assertive behaviors that cause this boss to think she’s nervous to talk to him — frankly, that kind of repeated jerk move would make me nervous to talk to him even if I hadn’t been before — but that sounds like he thinks LW2 is trying to hide behind emails instead of having a tough discussion with him.

        Now, let me posit, even if that were his concern, he’s being an absolute jerk about it, and he strikes me as likely to be a jerk in sufficient other ways to at least start a low energy job search. However, he may respond better to an email that sets up a meeting and describes what LW2 thinks needs to be discussed and then have a one-on-one meeting with him about the important problem. Then LW2 can keep a saved copy of her meeting notes with an email to herself.

        1. Uranus wars*

          Yes! The calling out in public in itself probably is bigger insight to the boss than the request to not email at all.

          I do think sometimes employees (myself included in the past) Will send an email with an explanation about a missed deadline or something that went wrong on a project. looking back at the way I was coached, I had good managers who wanted me to come to them so we could talk thru those problems. they also wanted me to get comfortable having hard conversations, knowing that as my career progressed I would need the practice.

          Again, that’s not what I’m hearing here. But did want to point out that having conversations in person and not an email doesn’t always mean that someone’s being shady.

        2. TechWorker*

          Whilst you’re probably right that the boss did this in a jerky way, it’s also possible that OP has an out of whack view here due to bad experiences at a previous job. I can imagine someone who’d just received a bunch more emails after asking their report to talk to them in person as saying something like ‘what’s up? Are you afraid of me, huh?’ in a fairly friendly way…

          If you already dislike or distrust said boss it’s not a massive jump to think of that as ‘they called me out publicly’.

    7. designbot*

      I was wondering about that too. If that’s a concern what I’d do is talk to him in person first, and only then send an email. Approach it like, “Notes from our conversation” or “to confirm what we discussed,” that way it’s not new info and he can feel free to disregard it, but you’ve covered your butt.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      He could have undisclosed (because it’s none of your business) dyslexia or something similar. Dyslexics frequently have very good people skills, but are more comfortable giving and receiving spoken information than in writing.
      Whatever the reason, he’s making it a direct order, and he’s your boss. Disregard at your peril.

  12. Lucia Pacciola*

    #2 – A boss who’s opposed to written records of decisions and instructions makes my hair stand up a little. There’s whole categories of tales about career-limiting maneuvers that begin with a boss putting in writing something they shouldn’t have. A boss who insists on unrecorded verbal confirmations worries me a bit.

    Also, the nice thing about an email record is that it’s a relatively un-hackable third-party attestation of date and time, delivery confirmation, etc. It’s also relatively easy to do. So if the LW isn’t allowed to use her email conversations with her boss as documentation, I’d recommend that she at least send an email to *someone* – even just herself. That way there’s always a record on the server of when the issue was first attested.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Not only that but there’s been numerous times in jobs (once I had been there a while) that I vaguely remembered “whatever it was” about a project decision 3 years ago but not the specific details, and then of course having a searchable email archive made it so much easier to retrieve that info (and forward it on to people who weren’t in the original conversation, if applicable).

    2. Admin of Sys*

      Yeah, this. I was surprised Alison suggested allowing a boss to request no documentation. Mind you, I spent 10 years at a state run institution, so I’m always surprised at how untracked corporate world is. Still – I wonder if you can request a shared departmental email address for tracking or something.

  13. Julia*

    I think Serafina’s point might be that because Mary is pursuing therapy (a treatment) to deal with the crying, it’s arguably a medical condition. I’m skeptical that the ADA would be of much use here, however; there’s no indication of a diagnosable mental health issue and more important no indication that the impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities, which is the ADA definition of a disability.

    I’m not sure I agree there is “clear sexism”. Rudeness, absolutely, and implicit sexism, absolutely. But Alison’s sadly right – crying this frequently is a professionalism problem and it’s good that Mary’s trying to deal with it. So it’s not all on them for judging her about it, although they could’ve been kinder.

    1. Wing Leader*

      Crying this frequently isn’t great, but she also can’t seem to help it and is getting treatment for it. I think it’s worth it to give Mary a little time and see if she starts to improve. She is clearly trying to get better.

  14. agnes*

    Sometimes when I cry, it’s because I am mad as heck and you should watch out! :)

    Seriously, I love everyone’s response to this issue. It’s infuriating that some managers think being aggressive and intimidating and basically an ahole is somehow OK but being vulnerable and taking in feedback is not. Very sexist in my opinion.

    1. juliebulie*

      Yes! I often cry when I’m angry, which kind of sends the wrong message.
      Likewise, when I am sad, I sometimes get irritable and “intense” and people think I’m angry.
      Fortunately, most of the time I can maintain a poker face.

      1. Wing Leader*

        This is me. I never cry from sadness or grief, but I get agitated and irritable. If I am angry, then I cry. Very backwards responses haha, but it’s what happens.

    2. ursula*

      Ha, yeah, I hate when I fury-cry – people always misinterpret it (especially men). Especially because I not the type who loses control of their words when I’m emotional; I’m usually laser-focused and saying something I absolutely, dead-seriously need them to hear.

    3. momofpeanut*

      Me too! When my rage overwhelms me, the tears flow. It’s better than me saying what I am thinking.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I found that trying to suppress the rage was a huge factor in why I cried. If I just let myself be mad, and let myself express that (without yelling), I didn’t cry.

  15. MeTwoToo*

    How awful for Mary! My brother was like this growing up and also had therapy that helped him with his control. For him it was anger. He had quite a temper and whenever he got angry tears would just well up and roll down his face. Which made him more angry because he couldn’t control it and created a feedback loop. Middle school was especially awful for him. Eventually he did get it under control and no longer has an issue, but it was a purely physical response to his stress/emotion and a completely out of sync one. She has my total sympathy.

  16. My2Cents*

    LW1: Is leaving it alone an option? Do you feel the need to intervene because of the “stupid” comment alone? Because I suspect they were uncomfortable when she cried (which is not an uncommon reaction to other people’s tears regardless of the setting) and they may think it’s unprofessional (which is subjective). And I from the letter it doesn’t sound like they were speaking negatively about her in general, just in this context.

    1. WellRed*

      Hmm. I’m sympathetic to Mary, but unless they were being total jerks (which many commenters are automatically assuming) they are allowed to be uncomfortable with this and say that. I wonder if that helps Mary in any way to know others have noticed or makes it worse. Probably the latter, but everyone is different.

      1. My2Cents*

        First, thanks for ignoring my typo. Second, I think I’m on the same page. It’s likely just going to stress her out more, and it’s not like she doesn’t know she’s cried in front of them, so I don’t know what she gains from knowing they aren’t as sympathetic as her manager. She can’t stop it either way.

      2. Wing Leader*

        They’re allowed to be uncomfortable and have a gentle conversation with her about it, but why did need to say it was “stupid” for her to cry? That was unnecessary and, in my opinion, a jerk thing to say.

        1. Fikly*

          It’s also 100% untrue. Controling whether or not you cry has nothing to do with intelligence.

  17. whistle*

    For the email LW, if you are concerned about a time stamped paper trail, you could email yourself your own notes from the conversations with your boss. That way you are complying with the boss’s request for no emails and you are documenting the interaction for future reference.

    1. 3DogNight*

      I was thinking have the verbal conversation with the boss, then send a “recap”. Let him know you’re sending it, and that he can just file it. Maybe even put No Action Required in the subject (as long as that is true). Then he can’t accuse you of not talking about it, and you have the record. Honestly, this is what I do.

    2. Nina*

      I update the JIRA ticket – it’s not stuck in anyone’s email, but it’s also perfectly clear and transparent what happened. Is there something like that you could use?

  18. Jedi Squirrel*

    Wow, I had completely forgotten about Janet, Sower of Chaos.

    Did we ever get an update?

  19. YoungTen*

    I’m a female who happens to cringe at emotional displays in most settings. I can only imagine what it’s like dealing with this in a professional setting. It’s also possible that any manager who doesn’t know her well will start second-guessing if they are being too hard on her, hence the crying. It sounds more like the manager was just frustrated about the interaction. Can anyone truly say they NEVER talk about another in the workplace when they are frustrated? I’m not saying its right, I’m just saying that is human. The manager would probably say the same thing if it were a man. it’s just odd and it makes the interaction more difficult. No one really wants to interact with someone who is emotional. One suggestion I would give is to see if some of the feedback can happen via e-mail? it’s not ideal I’m most settings but since this is her reaction to stress, perhaps it would be better for her to deal with it in her way when she reads it and can talk in person more calmly once she has had time to process. Just a suggestion.

    1. Gilmore67*

      Not a bad suggestion. Trying to wean her off the crying by emailing the issue first and then say, lets follow up at 3pm in my office. Then the person has enough time to process the issue and then talk about it in person.

      But I would only do it temporarily, say 2 months maybe. It can start with a.. ” you need to control the crying when I give you feedback ” ( however to put it…) and lets try it this way first and go on from there with the expectation the crying will be reduced as you keep going forward.

      I think this is fair. She needs to really understand that generally speaking she can’t just cry at feedback. Not addressing this early on on her work life isn’t going to help her. There are going to be a lot less understanding managers out there that could be a lot harsher on her and if that can be avoided that would be a great gift to her.

      1. YoungTen*

        Yes! I should have said temporary. I don’t think emailed feedback is appropriate in regular cases but perhaps it may for a bit. Not only for her but the managers can get the point across while allowing her to deal with it the best way she can at the moment.

  20. PLM*

    I ‘ve been on both sides of the emailing boss issue. I used to use emailing my sketchy boss as a cya maneuver so I’d have a record, but it didn’t win me any points when I’d refer back to my email to point out that we’d had a particular discussion when he’d denied knowing about it. He’d get annoyed at my recap of our meeting emails so I resorted to just keeping my own diary.
    I’ve also had someone who reported to me send emails about every mundane thing in a very officious manner ” Persuant to the administration assistant’s discussion regarding her displeasure at running low on pens, I will now order a box” followed with a second email: ” In regards to the administration assistant’s aforementioned issue with a dearth of useable pens, I have ordered a box of 20 Bic black ink pens” followed with an yet another email that the box of pens had arrived.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I’m not sure if the language in your second paragraph is something that actually happened or if you made it up as an example, but I’d love it if that was actually one of the things that they had written!

    2. cmcinnyc*

      Cracking up because we have someone on staff who sends those “Pursuant to” and “kindly advise” and “aforementioned” emails, always always grammatically incorrect. A freaking morass of unnecessary. But it’s harmless so we roll our eyes and email back TY because if you don’t acknowledge receipt of the aforementioned…

    3. Sam*

      I would also suggest that in some environments, you would want an email record of conversations/statements so they would be discoverable in legal proceedings. Your own personal log may not be sufficient.

      Of course that boss did not want me to document our conversations – they showed a pattern of willfully ignoring compliance obligations, and absolved me of wrongdoing.

  21. Secret Identity*

    You know, I really hate this idea that we all have to be emotionless automatons in order to be perceived as “professional”. People work in offices. Human beings. With human being baggage – emotions, personal lives, issues, etc. I get that we should curb some things in the office. Obviously. But, handle stress differently.
    Yes, this struck a chord in me because I, too, am a crier. I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I watch a tear -jerker movie, I cry when I get into a fight with my husband, I cry when I’m angry, I cry over stupid emotional commercials, for pete’s sake. The thing is, though, I can’t help it! I try as hard as I can not to cry, but I literally cannot control it. Tears leak from my eyes and I get red and puffy. It’s outside of my control.
    I realize there are those who are masters of their emotions and I envy them, but I can’t do it. I’ve tried every thing I can think of to stop it, head it off, control it in some way but I can’t. So, like Mary, I just have to explain that I’m sorry for the crying, but I am listening and will take everything that’s said to heart and incorporate it into my work going forward.
    I think we need to redefine what “professional” means. It does NOT mean emotionless robot who comes to work as a blank slate every day, calm and controlled in the face of all stress.
    Do I need a disclaimer to say that I obviously do not mean we should unleash all our emotions at work at the slightest provocation? Because, let’s not be extreme.

    1. fposte*

      But I don’t think people are suggesting Mary needs to be a senseless automaton. Her reactions *are* extreme, and it’s reasonable that people find it a problem. It sounds like she and the OP are on the same page about what to do about it, and hopefully the OP can convince Mary’s other supervisors to think about it the same way. But it’s also good that Mary’s looking to DBT, because this likely is changeable, and it’s legitimate to consider it a problem.

    2. Eether Eyether*

      A former boss told me once to drink a glass of water if you think you’re about to cry. Apparently it’s impossible to drink and cry at the same time. That’s the theory, anyway.

    3. Dasein9*

      You are right. The thing that needs to change is the definition of “professional.” How about professional ways of dealing with one’s own crying instead of the entirely useless demand that it never happen?

      (As I mentioned above, I’m speaking as someone who used to have no control over my own crying until I transitioned. Now that I’m on testosterone, I can control it.) ((Well, that’s not quite right: I can stop it. But I can’t always cry when that kind of release would be helpful, like over being in isolation, so the anxiety takes root and becomes stress.))

    4. YoungTen*

      The basic idea in professionalism is to not do anything regularly that hinders productivity. Yelling, swearing, throwing things ( I worked with someone like that) laughing too loudly, passing smelly gas and yes, crying can all distract people and make them uncomfortable. the occasional occurrence is one thing but if its a regular thing, it needs to be addressed.

  22. Never*


    I hate it but I used to have this and still do…. its not psych though, I think its related to one of my physical medical issues. Literally brain can be fine but body just goes to tears when having important conversations. It drives me mad.

    My two go tos to deal with it were chewing a sweet (I know it doesn’t seem professional and with my one boss i’d remark on it before such a convo, like when my dad was dying), or concentrating on controlling my breathing.

    I bloody hated it, and btw, it doesn’t only affect criticism with some people, it can be compliments and softly done personal talk as well.

    Thank you to the manager for caring about trying to sort this career wise with/for her though.

    1. Fikly*

      I used to be on a medication that had a side effect where it made me yawn all the time.

      Yawning at work looks super unprofessional. Could I control it? Absolutely not. Did I need that medication for several years? Absolutely.

      People assuming that they know the emotion behind a physical reaction gets really tiring.

  23. Jennifer Thneed*

    LW #2 seems to think that their options are “send email to boss about issue” or “talk to boss about issue” but nobody has suggested “talk in person and then send email to confirm what decisions were made”.

    I do that on a regular basis because (1) I have to summarize for the email which forces me to clarify things in my own mind; (2) it gives me a time stamp for the initial conversations; (3) it lets me use that email as a reminder to myself thru the magic of email tools; (4) it lets the other party see that I do understand what we discussed. So mostly it’s a tool for myself, but that #4 point is also very important. (And as a nice bonus, more than once the other party has thanked me for that summary, because it made *their* life easier.)

    1. Super Anon*

      That doesn’t work as an option though if the boss simply doesn’t want another email clogging his/her email inbox. I think emailing yourself a summary is a good idea if you want a record that is time and date stamped.

      I do think it might be worthwhile summarizing the the conversation for significant and key decisions. So if there is a major decision that gets made, perhaps you email about that conversation, but most of the time for the smaller more minor decisions you just keep notes or email yourself a recap of the conversation.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        Right, if letter writer does the “per our conversation” thing then boss can use it as “I told employee not to send e-mail but employee still sent e-mail.” I would say keep very detailed records. If boss likes to use instant message, screen shot those and save them. I had a co-worker for a while who was sending me very sketchy IMs (more things along the line of harassment) and I wished that I had screen-shotted them.

  24. Super Anon*

    For the poster on ML, I’d argue no to the bonuses. At least not until after you return from ML and can determine how much extra work was actually taken on I took ML recently, and I was gone for 12 weeks. I put in a lot of extra hours in the lead up to my leave to minimize the amount of work that would fall on others. However, I knew that there would be some things that would have to be done by my staff. My boss also authorized an increase in my budget to pay one of our consultants for extra time to cover specific duties that had to be done, but couldn’t really be done by my staff.

    My staff did have extra work, but when I came back from leave, what I discovered that there was one member of my team that stepped up and really picked up a lot of my work (despite it being assigned across the department evenly). That person definitely deserved a bonus. They worked extra hours and took on additional responsibilities beyond their pay grade. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option. However, not only did I notice, but so did my boss. And so now that person is next in line for a promotion. Before my leave they were not.

  25. SwitchingGenres*

    The employee’s crying is worse for her than it is for her bosses. She’s explained why she does it. She can’t control it. Her managers need to deal. This reminds me of my stutter. It’s something that makes other people uncomfortable and leads them to assume that I’m nervous or unstable. I’m not. I just stutter, I cannot control it, and it sucks more for me than for you. The employee is handling her body’s stress response in a responsible manner. I’d honestly prefer more people cry than react in anger or push their feelings down. Crying is human.

  26. Happy Pineapple*

    For #1: Oof, I have sympathy for Mary. It is so embarrassing and frustrating to have an involuntary physical reaction like crying even when you know you shouldn’t. You know it looks terrible but you can’t stop it. I’ve had this happen a few times throughout my life, always when I was going through something really difficult, and the most mundane thing could set off the waterworks. At one point I was living in an abusive situation, and raised voices in any context triggered that fear response and made me cry.

  27. Spearmint*

    I’m going to go against the seeming majority view here and say that frequent crying at work is extremely unprofessional and puts your colleagues in an unfair position. To me, it’s in the same category as a someone frequently raising their voice, berating people, yelling, expressing intense frustration, being irritable etc. Frequent expressions of strong negative emotions simply do not belong in the workplace, because your coworkers don’t have the same freedom to set boundaries with coworkers the way they do with people in their personal lives. We’re all human, and we should be understanding about the occasional slip up, but the key is that they’re occasional and seen as aberrations.

    I’m sure the woman OP1 talks about struggles with this, but it’s on her to manage it, even if it’s “just a physical reaction to stress”, just the same way that someone who frequently raises their voice when stressed needs to learn how to manage it even if it’s just their natural reaction.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      I think there’s a difference between crying and raising one’s voice. Tears welling up doesn’t seem like it’s really under a person’s control.

    2. YoungTen*

      I agree. Work is not like other settings. there is an image to think about. How do we want our coworkers to view us? I’d hate to have to give feedback to someone who cries or yells or whatever. the only difference is that the crying isn’t being disrespectful the way yelling is but its still not something that should be happening at work on a regular basis

    3. Recovering journalist*

      Crying can be an involuntary physical reaction. Yelling is not. These are not comparable.

    4. Fikly*

      Crying is not abusive. Raising your voice, berating people, yelling, expressing intense frustration, etc., is.

    5. jenkins*

      It is on her to manage, but she knows that and is making significant efforts to manage it. I think she’s handling an unwanted, involuntary response in the most professional way she could, given that she can’t switch it off overnight – it sounds like she would if she could. I’m not really sure what else she could be doing at this point, and I think it’s also on her superiors to understand that and manage their own response in turn.

  28. Union Alexander*

    Oh, wow, Mary in #1 is EXTREMELY relatable. I’m someone who cries at the drop of a hat, especially when speaking to people in “authority” (right now, my professors). I know that OP wasn’t looking for this, but for anyone else who struggles with overflowing emotions like me, I’ve found that I’ve had to shift my entire mindset. I cry when someone tells me I did something wrong because I care about their opinion of me; this isn’t ideal, but it should be managable. The problem is that I cared about EVERYONE’s opinion of me, even the professors that I outright hated or had no respect for (I promise, for good reason). So it’s been a long road of therapy and self-work to remind myself in these situations that either (a) I don’t care about this person’s opinion of me, and therefore their “feedback” (which was usually just telling me that I’m a bad student. Gross.) has no reason to hurt me, or (b) I do care about their opinion of me, but they care enough to give me feedback and offer resources to help, and that they didn’t look down on me for needing that. Obviously, in a work environment with my supervisor, I focus on (b). It’s been really, really hard for me to get to this point, but not only do I cry less in meetings, I handle those times where I do cry better because I understand why I’m crying and I can work through it for next time.

  29. WantonSeedStitch*

    OP #3: Manageress? UGH. EWW. BLEAH. Unless this person is not a native speaker of English and is really uncertain about what is common and what is really weird in the gendering of certain professional terms (most people don’t blink at “actress”), this is just not cool whether it’s a joke or serious. And if the guy really is confused, setting him straight will be helpful to him!

  30. designbot*

    I’m not sure I understand the last letter at all… why is it your manager’s business who you have coffee with? It’s not like you bill your company for networking time, that’s your personal network development. Have as many coffees as you like. Don’t schedule them at times that will be inconvenient.

    1. TechWorker*

      It might depend on your role a bit – if you’re in a role where you’re totally fine to flex your time and take longish breaks whenever then sure knock yourself and do coffee… but if you’re expecting networking to be viewed as ‘work’ time then it’s seems pretty reasonable that the networking would need to be actually relevant/helpful rather than basically a catch up with a friend,

      1. Elsajeni*

        Yeah, I think the issue is because the OP refers to “taking meetings” with these people. Meeting an old colleague for lunch, or having a quick catch-up over coffee with someone who works nearby: sure! Blocking out time during your workday to meet with them, or taking a “coffee break” that keeps you away from the office for an hour: the meetings had better be relevant to your current work.

  31. Rexish*

    I feel for Mary. My stress reaction is to cry. I f-ing hate it and wish I could stop it. I can have a completely rational discussion and make my point but there are tears the whole time. In my relationship I say to my bf “I might cry, it’s my stress reaction. Please listen to me and try not to pay attention to tears”. It has happened at work, but I’ve been able to remove myself from the situation. It’s not manipulative and if I could stop, I would. Happy to get feedback and criticism but tears just come. It has gotten worse the older I get. Once I noticed this, I did a omega research and it’s quite common

    The stupid comment was highly inniapropriate and if op decides to bring it up, I might come prepared with some research so it’s not just “jane is emotional woman” thing but an actual common human thing.

  32. Jennifer Juniper*

    I’m guessing Mary may have a medical condition called pseudobulbar affect that causes the crying episodes. Not saying she does, just throwing it out there.

  33. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    #1 (crying) – what an empathetic manager you seem to be! (I’m saying it sincerely, not with sarcasm!)

    As a woman in a male dominated industry I get the impression semi-frequently that people try to ‘offload’ emotional stuff or interpersonal awkwardness on to me thinking, probably subconsciously, “Captain d is a woman, she’s bound to be more empathetic about this than all these men!” (I get this from both men and women)

    … not true, I’m one of the most awkward when it comes to people crying etc and I often have no idea what to do or say. I am good at coming up with a “problem solving”, plan of action type of response though, but that isn’t what they want :s

  34. Workfromhome*

    #2 I think there needs to be a bit more context. Did the boss say “don’t send me emails asking for things come see me” or did he say “never send me any emails ever”

    If its the first one then yes I agree you need to get clarity from the boss” So just to be clear are there instance where you do want emails and what are they” and then abide by that. The boss does get to make the call and if there are thing they don’t want to clog their inbox you must accommodate it.

    If its the 2nd one it sets off alarm bells. No email ever spells trouble because its very easy for the boss to “remember” a conversation differently if it suits their purpose. Maybe they tell you to print all the documents for client X on blue paper. Then client X hates it. Next thing you know you get” I don’t remember telling you to use blue paper. I told you not to use blue paper were you not listening its all your fault”.

    if its no email ever you may not be able to change it but I would start emailing myself (and if appropriate cc others) as a recap to any important conversations with the boss. Along the lines of To Me CC Judy Subject Paper Color -Met with boss 2:15. Boss instructed me to use blue paper for client X. Judy alos sends things to client X so looping her in.

    I always follow major stuff up with email both for my own notes and to CMA. This would let you have the same process for everyone (those that let you email and those that don’t) all you need to do is rember not to but boss on the TO box for discussions you have with him but if you have one with Bob or Betty who don’t mind email you put their name in the to box.

  35. TimeCat*

    I will come out and say I would find Mary frustrating. It is very hard to keep giving feedback when someone is crying. I had a trainee who cried all the time and I honestly dreaded our meetings. I did my best with her but I think the extreme emotional reaction made it so she couldn’t process feedback and her work never improved. I’m normally the Mr. Bubbles of trainers (I get called in when things are going wrong and have a high success rate on training). I tried so many things.

    1. TechWorker*

      Your case seems both reasonable to be frustrated and different to LW1 tho – if the feedback was taken and acted upon would it have been as bad?

    2. Susie Q*

      That sounds like a nightmare. I’m not a fan of huge displays of emotion at work. Crying, yelling, etc.

  36. The Non-Crier*

    My SIL is like this, and she can get quite embarrassed over it. I def feel sorry for the person who is crying. I would say that if she states she is working on crying and shows progress (she may still tear up or cry) that should suffice in this situation.

    Also as someone who has a lot of trouble crying bc of anti-anxiety meds I have the opposite problem. I don’t cry when I feel like WOULD be appropriate. My grandparents funerals, things related to my kids , sad movies sometimes I feel like the Ice Queen, with a cold heart, lol. Sometimes I really, really want to cry and can’t. (everyone needs a good cry sometimes, right?).

    1. allathian*

      I’m utterly unable to cry at funerals, no idea why. I’m very ashamed of the reaction, but twice I’ve had to bite my tongue to stop myself from breaking into a fit of giggles. At two different funerals! I do often laugh to stop myself from crying, but this was extreme and I could have cried.

  37. CM*

    The more letters come up about crying at work, the more I’m convinced that this is an area where “professionalism” needs to evolve.

    Crying is often perceived as emotionally manipulative, attention-seeking, or comfort-seeking. Yet in this case, it’s clear that it is none of the above. The employee is calmly explaining that this is a physical response and that she is still listening and receiving the feedback. She is explicitly saying she does not want attention, comfort, or any change in how she is treated. She is even saying that she is making concrete efforts to change this behavior, but these efforts will take some time. She could not possibly be more professional in her handling of this. Her coworkers should also behave professionally by accepting her statements and continuing as if she were not crying.

    Above, crying is compared to yelling and berating others. There is a big difference. Yelling and berating are disrespectful and are directed at other people. Crying is neither. Yelling and berating are never professional, but crying can be if handled appropriately.

    1. Rexish*

      I listened to a podcast where one of the hosts was sharing something and started to cry. Then proceeded to explain why (relating to a losing a parent resebtly). The guest was a psychotherapist and basically said: why do we explain crying? If you laugh or smile, do you explain the reason for it? Couldn’t crying be taken as any other emotion?

      Of course it is not as black and white but as a stress cryer it really made me think. Your message reminded me of this. I agree that it would be great if crying wouldn’t be automatically unprofessional. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to the other person (so it it to the cryer) but so are a lot of things at work. And usually you can see if the person is being manipulative or having an uncontrollable reaction.

  38. Rachey*

    I’m kind of surprised at Alison’s lackluster response to LW1. Regardless of the crying, the manager should defend her employee against teasing and gossiping- and it definitely has sexist overtones. She needs to tell the other supervisors that Mary’s crying is not a topic for discussion unless it is directly affecting a specific part of their job and/or working relationship.

    In regards to the crying, because of the frequency is seems to be completely an involuntary physiological response. This would be the same thing as somebody having another tic, head nodding, nail chewing, stuttering, crying, etc. If you would tell somebody to knock off the gossip about another person’s stutter (which can make workplace interactions challenging), then you need to have the same courtesy extended to somebody that is crying calmly. And because it is part of her anxiety diagnosis, I would suspect it has the potential to be covered by ADA. Even if it isn’t specifically, it would be easy to use that as your back-up. “Hey guys, we need to be careful when addressing Mary’s crying. It is an issue for which she is receiving help to manage and I don’t want to accidentally get in trouble with the ADA over it. So let’s just not bring it up unless there is a specific issue that needs to be worked through.”

  39. Stop Mooching Off My Minecraft Time*

    I can very much relate to Mary, and I’m 40 years old! My easy tears are actually the result of years of childhood trauma, and my reaction is completely involuntary. After years of therapy, I have a few techniques I employ (drinking water, blinking A LOT, role playing in the mirror, etc), but there are still times I can’t do a darn thing about it, no matter how “unprofessional” it is. I’m actually known for being someone who is very solution oriented and not dramatic at all, and I’m so glad the few colleagues who’ve ever witnessed my tears don’t seem to have pegged me as difficult.

  40. jk*

    All my older coworkers cry when my boss gives them feedback. They are in their 40s and 50s.

    The feedback was for them to stop bullying and challenging my expertise. So they cried.

    Meanwhile I have to put up with their shitty abuse in case I ‘upset them’ with my presence. Lol… i hate life.

    1. jk*

      Also, I’m a woman in my 30s so it’s pretty embarrassing.

      I’m the one being bullied and THEY ARE CRYING because I am doing my job well!

      1. Fikly*

        What does that have to do with the letter? In your situation, they are crying in one specific instance, and pretty clearly to manipulate to get away with their behavior. This is the opposite of what Mary is doing.

        Because some people are behaving badly, and do x while doing so, does not mean that all people who do x are behaving badly.

  41. MangoAngel*

    I know the main story is Mary the Crier, but I can’t get past the “manageress” one. That would be like chomping tinfoil to me…I literally just full-body shuddered imagining it. Ugh.

    “Forward that you my manageress.”

    Really Bob? You smurfing kidding me with that?

  42. mlk*

    re: manageress

    My first thought was–what’s the background of the employee? As people have pointed out, manageress is an antiquated term that has been used in the UK (I’ve heard it on mystery tv shows). I might also expect it from someone whose first language isn’t English or whose first language is more gendered than English.

  43. CatMintCat*

    I cry when I’m angry. It happens very rarely but it’s hard to get the boss to understand that I’m not “upset”, I’m working hard on not killing him and burying the remains in the infants sandpit.

  44. These Boots*

    Letter writer whose boss doesn’t like email: have those conversations in person, then send yourself an email to document it.“ Spoke to Jojo today about X. She said blah blah blah.” You’ll have a record of the conversation that’s date and time stamped. Set up a filter in your inbox so all documents end up in one place in case you need to look back through them.

  45. Quickbeam*

    I just wish anyone (at any of the many jobs I’ve held over the past 50 years) had even said thank you for covering dozens of maternity leaves. A bonus? How about recognition for stepping up and working double. But money would be nice too.

  46. Allison*

    Please strongly consider approving the bonuses for the maternity leave covers. I’ve been assigned to “help out” five times (so far…) in my career, and there is ALWAYS more work that you think, even if the person did a great job getting ahead before they left. A maternity leave is a long time, and that person at the very least needs to use up mental space keeping an eye on a significant portion of the things that are usually your responsibility (that’s why you both have full-time jobs there). Worse case, they are already at capacity and now also taking on a couple of your projects, and maybe even prioritizing them out of respect to you. The best scenario is the company hiring a temp (an actual temp, or an industry-savvy familiar freelancer) to cover that workload during the leave, but if that’s not possible, a bonus can go a decent way towards preventing resentment and burnout.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      I covered a 7 month (non-maternity) medical leave and exclusively absorbed the entirety of my coworker’s tasks. The overtime pay was awesome, but the burnout was profound. A bonus is a great idea, because it recognizes the additional work in a way that is actually useful for your employees, but making sure the extra work is evenly distributed is equally important. I would have felt fairly demoralized if my teammates who picked up no additional work received the same recognition and bonus as I did.

  47. Elsajeni*

    For LW#4: as far as why you wouldn’t give a similar bonus for covering a vacation, I think the nature of the leave is the main thing, right? You hope to always be able to accommodate vacation requests, but you could deny a request or ask someone to reschedule if it was going to create a major coverage problem. Maternity leave and long-term medical leaves can’t be canceled or rescheduled in the same way, no matter what the coverage situation is, so you expect them to carry a higher coverage burden and the bonus is to compensate for that.

  48. Trish the Dish*

    This was me in my 20s and early 30s. I cried at any perceived criticism or negative feedback at work (and in my personal life as well). It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with depression and began an antidepressant that I was able to exercise any control over my extreme reaction in a professional setting. OP may want to explore this with a medical expert.


    I feel this one with my heart. I have pretty bad social phobia and anxiety so the thought of being talked at about anything is stressful. All throughout high school, college, and even my current job, I tend to cry with one on one conversations. It has recently gotten more under control with me becoming more comfortable at work but it still occasionally happens.

Comments are closed.