I cried in a meeting last week. Did I want to? No. Did I go into it with all of the fortitude to try and restrain my frustration from coming out my eyeballs? Yes. Did my eyes get the memo and cooperate with me? No. No they did not.
Society tells women not to cry at work. (I’d like to try and be inclusive here, but quite frankly gents, I’ve never heard of this being something that’s told to you. Please correct me if I’m wrong though.)
There have been books written about it, career counselors preaching it and any corporate mentor offering the same advice: don’t cry at work. And if you absolutely MUST cry, go to the bathroom. Never show too much emotion because then you get labeled as “emotional,“ which is a bad thing.
Here’s how I see it though:
The fact that I cried is precisely what makes me good at my job. To be clear, I’m not talking about experiencing gigantic sobs that I couldn’t speak through kind of crying. In a corporate environment, I agree that type of emotional display deserves its place in a bathroom stall or away from other people in whatever situation that may be.
The kind of tears I’m describing here are the ones I could not hold back because I am so emotionally invested in making this group (of which I am on the leadership team) a success and I could no longer handle the resistance coming from the people standing in my way of achieving that success. I became frustrated and overwhelmed and as I explained (yet again) why I had made the recommendations I did, those feelings came out of my eyeballs.
I felt like I had been doing everything I could to try and make the group happy, productive, and profitable and yet one person in particular seemed just as hell-bent on neither acknowledging the effort, being appreciative of it, or even coming to the table with another solution. They simply dug their heels in on the complainer side of life. I knew this person to be difficult going into the meeting, but I didn’t expect my frustration to manifest in the way I did. The funny thing is, I should have.
Tears Aren’t Just A Sign of Sadness
I’ve always been one of those people who’s frustration comes out of her eyeballs. Am I crying because I’m sad? Not a chance! But tears can come for reasons outside of just being sad. Some will criticize me for crying during this meeting as I pleaded my case for all the things I had done to try and be a positive, productive member of this group’s leadership team.
While I didn’t love crying at that moment particularly because I knew it would be viewed as weakness or someone might label me “emotional,” in hindsight I am perfectly OK with the fact that I cried. I cared so much about the success of the group and a beneficial outcome from that meeting that my emotions showed in all the ways, which in this case meant tears, a sign of frustration.
When Being Emotional Works
I bring the same level of drive and passion for the marketing I do with my own business to each of my clients’ businesses. Most of the time that manifests in a positive way: beautiful branding that resonates with their target clientele, a website that converts, awards won, sales closed faster/easier, more confident public speaking, more press hits, etc.
I’m not a “Well that’s not my business so what happens happens” kind of consultant. If I take you on as a client, and you follow what I recommend, then I KNOW you’ll be successful. And if something isn’t working as I know it should be, then I’ll be just as frustrated by it as you are.
Essentially I’ve never been able to shake the cheerleader aspect of my personality even though I put my pom poms down two decades ago. It’s that mentality, enthusiasm and desire for my clients to be just as excited and confident and driven in their own businesses that has brought me to this point in my career.
Nobody wants to work with someone who is aloof, monotone and very matter-of-fact in their speech all the time – at least that’s not what they’re looking for in a sales and marketing consultant and coach. At the same time, no one wants to work with someone who’s an emotional mess. Just like most things in life, friends, it’s all about balance.
Continuing to Own My Story (And My Behavior)
So yes, I cried during a professional meeting. Some will see that as a negative and that is fine with me. I am not out here trying to change everyone. But I am here to be fully who I am and that person sometimes gets so fired up when she truly cares about something that ALL of her emotions show – the good and the “less than ideal” in public. ( I won’t say “bad” because to me, no emotions are bad. They just are.)
“To me, no emotions are bad. They just are.”
If I didn’t have this level of passion that sometimes brings me to tears in a meeting, I wouldn’t have the business I have today, which has consistently grown year over year, even during a pandemic! I am not for everyone. That is 100% OK. But for my ideal clients, that passion is precisely why they hire me.