On crying in meetings - the umpteenth edition

A couple weeks ago I tweeted this. I had a meeting that - for reasons I won't go into here - was going to be a rough meeting for me and when I came out I was pretty proud that I hadn't cried.

To answer Dr. ScientistMother's question: I'm not sure if having meditated for 10 minutes a day the past year helped me in not crying in this meeting. Maybe. But the main reason - that is admittedly a bit childish perhaps - was that I promised myself a present if I didn't cry. This way, every time something happened in the meeting that I might cry about, I could focus on my present and divert my attention from what was happening in the meeting. So I politely smiled, talked and nodded while thinking about something else. After this 1,5 hours of not crying, I gave myself the book This is how we rise from Claudia Chen. It is an awesome and empowering book, but more about that some other time.

But I want to come back to crying in meetings. Because cried I have in meetings, as documented on this blog here and here. That last post even drove a commenter to diagnose me with a depression and advise me to seek help. And also at work I've had people ask me if I needed a break or not. But at the same time people praise me for my energy and dedication. And to be honest, this package of energy and passion and dedication for me automatically comes with crying every now and then. Crying because I care, or because I am frustrated to make something happen or because I really appreciate the people I work with. Most of the time, it is not a sign that something is wrong with me, it is actually a sign that I care. Because at the end of the day, I'd rather not zone out and think about something else in a meeting just to make sure I don't cry.

8 responses so far

  • potnia theron says:

    Exactly. There is one axis that is crying-not crying. There is another that is feeling-not feeling. If you chop off crying, you are in danger of chopping off the whole end of the "feeling" axis. It has taken me a long time to realize that.

  • Socal dendrite says:

    I, too, cry easily. I feel like it's partly a physical thing - like I have weak tear ducts or something (if that's even a thing!) - but I also know that it provides a source of release and relief. If I have been feeling pent-up frustration, sadness, anger, etc, I feel so much better once it has come out as a good cry and whatever weight I was carrying is (often) lifted, at least for a while. Sometimes I hate that I cry so easily because it is embarrassing, but other times I feel sorry for those who don't have such easy access to this release mechanism.

    • babyattachmode says:

      Ha! I might use “sorry, I have weak tear ducts” next time I cry in a meeting!

      • Socal dendrite says:

        I feel like someone ought to do a study on this, to see if the people who are prone to crying in emotional situations also shed more tears in a neutral situation, like chopping onions. I'll have to search the literature and see if this experiment has been done! 🙂

  • DJMH says:

    Also a crier and I do cry easily for non-emotional reasons, like when I'm coughing.

    Two things have helped:
    1) Learning from transgender people that trans men cry much less than they did when they were women...not because they don't experience those emotions but because those emotions don't express as tears. This really helped me understand crying as not related to lack of emotional control (at least, not necessarily) but just a bodily reaction. That in turn helps remove some of the shame element from crying, so I find it easier to treat like a sneeze: use a tissue and move on.

    2) Becoming the boss. Turns out, a lot of situations in which I cried were situations in which I felt powerless. I don't have those situations nearly as often now (even if frustration is still a common emotion...) and I don't cry as much.

  • lucy says:

    Strange, I have never cried in a meeting, or for a rejected paper or grant. Or for being put down in a meeting or doing a horrible mistake in the lab that cost my advisor at the time quite a bit of money.
    But I am quite emotional in my personal life. I am known as the crier of the family. It is just that the stakes at work are not that relevant...maybe because I've had a lot of serious medical issues in my close family? and that changed my perspective? I don't know.

  • […] A while ago, I received feedback that "I shouldn't show my ambition so much because it makes people around me uncomfortable". It was one of those remarks where at the time that I received this feedback, I didn't really react to it. I didn't immediately react for multiple reasons, the primary one being that I wanted to keep my pokerface in this meeting and I knew that reacting would mean that I would show emotions. […]

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