“Nod less, cry more” is the advice that Jennifer Palmieri, former head of communications for Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, is giving to women in business.
Palmieri believes that instead of attempting to portray the qualities we associate with men – such as strength, security and few displays of emotion – women should normalise the practice of crying and make others feel comfortable doing so too. Palmieri claimed: “It’s our world and we should be able to cry if we want to.”
There are many disadvantages to bottling up our emotions during times of stress. Clinton found that her inability to openly express emotion was detrimental to her campaign; at one point, Clinton was hospitalised due to exhaustion and dehydration. On reflection, this shows that displaying emotions in response to social pressure, enhances the productivity of employees who may be distracted by persistent concerns.
The question as to whether women should cry at work is therefore not a simple one, igniting an international debate.
Prepare for issues before they arise
Every business has a duty of care to its employees. Owners and managers are responsible for detecting if an employee is particularly stressed or overwhelmed, addressing this issue accordingly. However, businesses are able to implement procedures and cultivate an environment designed to prevent these heightened emotions from escalating in the first place.
For example, businesses should encourage open communication; ensuring employees feel they can express their feelings in a controlled way, rather than feeling ignored. This should make for a more productive outcome. An unhappy employee will be distracted and inefficient, therefore it’s beneficial to both the sufferer and employer to prepare for any issues that could arise.
Be proactive in finding a solution
If an employee is feeling particularly stressed at work, they should tell a manager or another team member before their emotions escalate. This should prevent the employee from expressing heightened emotions in an unhealthy, unproductive way. Whilst managers do not want staff crying at their desks due to stress, it’s important to note that the sufferer of such anxiety wants this even less.
There are many reasons an employee may be struggling to remain focused at work, some of which will be work related – such as an excessive work load or strained inter-office relationships. These can be tackled with better organisation; being proactive and finding a solution whilst the concern is manageable is incredibly beneficial to everyone involved.
Remember, we’re only human
Like any emotion, crying is a natural human response which in some cases simply cannot be controlled. For the most part, employees may be able to address their emotions in a productive manor or keep these distinctly separate from the work place. Equally, once an employee has discussed an issue with their employer, this rarely becomes an issue again.
However, if an employee becomes upset on a ‘one-off’ occasion, it is important to show recognition of this infrequency and provide support to the sufferer where possible. An isolated issue leading to a rare display of emotion may only continue if the employee then feels they have let their employer or colleagues down, adding to the pressure they are already feeling.
Ben Edwards is a business coach, qualified NLP practitioner and motivational speaker, who often works with businesses to improve areas such as employee wellbeing
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