Crying at work makes me happy. Odd? Weird? Wrong?
I often cry at work. I don’t really like to, but I know that it’s as much a part of who I am as my eye color.
You see, I cry when I am inspired. People inspire me. People at work inspire me. I think we are surrounded, every day, by ordinary people doing extraordinary things, including at work.
Let me give you an example. I was recently in a hotel in Birmingham, England. The bellman, James, who I guessed to be in his 70s, was kind and gracious as he escorted me to my room. We chatted about the weather and the hotel. If you were to call Central Casting ask for a normal, down-to-earth person, they would send James.
“Denice, do you have a job where you work with people?” James asked me as he made me a cup of tea. (I was in England, after all.)
“Yes, James, I do.”
He went on to add, “I think working with people is great. In fact, I believe I was put on Earth to do this job.”
Inspiring? Absolutely. Without a doubt, this was a special moment. Here’s why: like many of us, I look up to people who have a huge impact on the world. I admire presidents, astronauts and scientists dedicating their life to improving life on the planet. In reality, these are two-dimensional people because I will never know anything about them except for what I see on the news. But, in talking to Phil, I met a normal and dare I say, average human being, and at the same time, shared an inspiring moment that has stayed with me for many days.
This brings tears to my eyes. And, I often have these moments at work. My job brings me into contact with such a variety of people, from CEOs to accountants to factory managers to receptionists. And yes, I am inspired by spending time with CEOs—they lead businesses, create powerful strategies and successfully navigate the complex business world. But, I can be even more inspired by the “average person.” And, when I get inspired, the emotion that washes over me brings me to tears.
In these moments, I can feel my pulse quicken, my breath shorten and my eyes fill with tears. I cry.
So, if you’re like me and crying is your response to emotional situations at work, what should you do?
I acknowledge my reaction and explain it. Amazingly, once I acknowledge it, I usually stop crying. Let’s be clear, I’m not sobbing. My eyes are filled with tears, and my voice is a bit shaky, but I am not a soap opera actress finding out that my future husband is my long-lost brother. I find that people, in general, are very understanding. They appreciate my candor, and often, compliment me on being honest.
And, in the end, I give myself a break. I accept that crying at work is not my best corporate behavior, but because I cry when I am inspired by people’s amazing stories, I would not change my behavior for all the political correctness in the world.
Go ahead: inspire me, and pass the Kleenex.