Work this week has been a gigantic cluster-f. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say, I totally messed up. My supervisor and I had a long talk about it yesterday, and he was actually really sympathetic, and really nice. He gave me a chance to vent/explain/etc., but the fact of the matter is because of my inexperience and inability to handle stress, I dropped the ball. My manager–very, very gently–pointed that out. He explained a lot of things, made it clear that he didn’t think it was my fault, per se, but still, that stung.
Of course, two minutes into the conversation, I started crying. He gave me tissues and said I was free to take a couple of minutes, made it clear that I’m always free to ask him questions, and gave me his cell phone for when I had to ask him something off-hours. He was awesome. He was fair and kind, and I still couldn’t stop myself from bawling.
I am okay if I have a warning for this kind of situation, but if I’m taken off guard, I fall apart. I can’t make myself stop crying, but I’d like to at least delay it until I make it to the bathroom. So how could I stop the tears during the meeting itself, and save my dignity?
The next time you feel yourself welling up at work, flash your boss! Just lift up your top and show him your boobies, which will distract him from your tears. This will not only make him like you more, but it will perpetuate another stereotype about women: 1.) we cry all the time and 2.) we like to show people our tatas. It also might prompt him to ask you out to lunch, and free lunch is nothing to be sneezed at.
I feel your pain. I cry all the time, to the point where my kids say, while rolling their eyes, “Oh, look at Mommy, she’s so happy she’s crying again.” And then they throw some Legos at me and go punch something. I’m not helping with defying gender stereotypes, either. But you need to get it together, my friend. The best way to remove the emotional charge from a situation is to acknowledge the emotion out loud. When I’m feeling embarrassed or ashamed or sad about something, I talk about it. If you sit there in the meeting feeling like a little kid in trouble, you’re going to cry. If you walk into your boss’s office, sit down, and say, “I fucked up, and I feel really bad about it,” then instead of crying, you’re taking responsibility like a grown-up and removing that dynamic of being powerless. You say you were caught off guard, but really, you weren’t–you knew things had gone poorly, and that a conversation about it was coming. You just weren’t prepared for kindness; you were prepared for anger. It’s easier to deal with anger because you can feel justified in defending yourself and getting mad back.
If you feel the tears coming anyway, pinch yourself on that webby part between your thumb and your forefinger. Bite on the end of your tongue. Try to sing “Bye Bye Miss American Pie” in your head from start to finish. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth (without looking like you’re at Lamaze class). And if you can’t stop the tears from coming, just say, “When I get frustrated, I cry. Can I have a minute?” Then go to the ladies’ room, collect yourself, and then go back to that meeting and take it like a woman.