Why People Cry at Work – HBR

Why People Cry at Work – HBR.

A useful addition to the literature on communications at work.

The author suggests that there are three general reasons for crying at work:

– a “formidable manager”

Inspiring fear or even respect through expressing power doesn’t form any part of my conscious management style (in fact, quite the opposite) but, sadly, I am not overly patient by nature and moments extreme frustration have brought out my most strident behaviour as a manager making people cry and I feel dreadful about this.

I have also been told that people have cried off site because a disconnect in the direction I was giving and what they needed from me.   In the latter case, I was able to eventually clarify that I had no further direction to give.  A part of high level competency in our world is advancing projects on generalized direction and creating products that no one has ever seen before.  Moving away from templates can make our otherwise often bureaucratic work invigorating though it can also be de-stablizing.  But, I don’t want people to feel destabilized and unsupported.  On this experience, I have now gotten better at saying, I given you all that I know, just put some ideas down and we’ll work through this together.

– the intersection between personal and professional

 As I have written before, I will now solicit and give general information on the goings on in personal lives to help understand how emotions might modulate over time and better understand that a bumpy patch does not mean that someone is fundamentally unsuited for a certain work environment.

– organizational culture and differences.

This includes personal management style and meeting people where they are.  I’ve just finished Bob Sutton’s book Good Boss, Bad Boss and he would counsel that it is OK to show flashes of anger to really get a point across.  I prefer the “pick a face” approach.  I find with high performing teams, their own desire to perform well will be sufficiently bruised by the most moderately presented feedback that there is no need for extreme emotion.  That said, I think it is true that as elaborated in the Talent Code, having a boss you respect enough to want to please and feel a bit intimidated into doing so, doesn’t harm but help.  You stay on your A-game and you work on being prepared to present.

Will we be able to utterly avoid ever crying at work as the author suggests, I doubt it.  I was informed of the sudden death of my father at work and I did want to know this as soon as possible but falling apart at work was a consequence.  People were lovely and supportive on that day and the days to follow.

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