These are the types of results you find when you look up the keywords: “crying at work.” Some quick observations:

  1. It’s very gendered. Right off the bat, the assumption is that women are the ones doing all the crying.
  2. It’s very souless. The immediate focus is on how you’ll be perceived & whether you could lose your job, as opposed to understanding how the individual is doing.
  3. It’s false logic. Some of the articles highlight how it’s statistically more likely that one would cry at work than not; and when you’re already feeling low, reading something like this makes you feel worse. Because then you feel like maybe everyone has a hard time at work & you need to just get over yourself. Also, knowing that everyone else is feeling like crap definitely doesn’t help you feel less crappy.

So in short, we don’t know what the deal is with the perception of crying at work or why there aren’t more stories/articles that authentically discuss this topic. So we’d like to tackle it in a genuine way here.


Reasons Why You Might be Crying at Work

You feel stressed out and overwhelmed

Your mental wellness is out of whack. It could be due to a number of root causes, but at this point, you need self-care. That could take form in many ways, such as:

  • Taking a day off or working from home
  • Spending 1 day of your weekend not working in any way; treat yourself to an afternoon nap, video games, time with friends, time outdoors, cooking a new type of meal or anything that could take your mind off of the stress or help you relax.
  • Talking to your manager about reducing your workload, if possible. Some people may feel like this will place them at risk of losing their job, and in some cases it could, but at the end of the day, you’ll need to leave that job anyway because being constantly overwhelmed isn’t sustainable.
  • Approaching the source of stress head on, being honest about how it’s affecting you and figuring out whether the person/circumstance is capable of changing.

You don’t enjoy the nature of the job

You’ve realized that you simply don’t care for or straight up hate the type of job you have. But for one reason or another, you’ve held onto it and haven’t started taking any actions about getting out of your role. And so, you look into your future and see endless days of routine work that you simply don’t want to do anymore.

Luckily, the solution to this is more actionable.

  1. Figure out why you dislike your current role.
  2. Research some other roles you think might be the opposite or different from the one you’re in.
  3. Ask people for intros so you can meet actual people in the roles you’ve researched. Use this to validate your assumptions about those roles.
    • Even better, see whether there’s someone at your existing company who you could shadow & see the role in action.
  4. Once you’ve decided on 1-2 roles you think could be a better match, figure out what it takes to interview for these kinds of roles and how you should be applying so that you can get actual call backs.
    • The more disconnected your current role is from your desired role, the more work, networking, referrals and maybe even schooling/certification you may need to make yourself a viable candidate.
  5. Get to work! You have everything you need to apply, prep for interviews and hopefully land a role!
  6. And if you can’t land a role after a year and have been reflective on why, but just haven’t been lucky, you can either keep trying, get more creative or consider other routes.

What you don’t want to do, is run from your current role to another random team just out of desire to escape. It’s worth it to be strategic about where you go next to increase your chances of happiness significantly. If you’re going to put so much work into switching roles, you may as well make it worth the effort!

A work colleague is a source of dread, fear or abuse

You love your role and for the most part, feel pretty good about your company and work-life balance. But there’s a bully at work who you have to work with occasionally (or maybe everyday) who you dread interacting with; s/he gives you anxiety and makes you feel inferior. It takes all your energy to have a productive interaction with him/her and it’s driven you to feel generally anxious and unhappy. It’s a terrible situation to be in, that 1 person can exert so much control over your feelings and well-being. It’s a place where many people have been in before. The question is: what do you do?

  1. Attempt talking to your manager about it. While most managers aren’t perfect, they should sense enough of your dread to think of possible solutions or be willing to speak to the other person’s manager about it. This route may not work for some people who are already in toxic work environments, but it’s worth considering.
  2. Attempt talking to the person about it. Not everyone intends to intimidating or verbally abusive; it may just come out that way, and they would be willing to change if their behavior is pointed out.
    • Again, unlikely to work in unsupportive, toxic work environments. But always worth considering despite how unappealing it may seem.
  3. Attempt talking to HR about it. HR is infamously useless at many companies…but thought I’d put it out there.
  4. Figure out whether you could switch to a project with less interaction with the person.
  5. Figure out whether you could switch to a different team altogether.
  6. And if the abuse is rampant, it simply may be time to move on to a different company.

You feel like it’s everything or feel like there’s no apparent cause

Everything is killing you inside, and you don’t know how much longer you’ll be able to keep trudging through the days. You’re really only “excited” about getting home and getting in bed.

If so, then it sounds like you may be suffering from some degree of depression. The best thing that you could do for yourself, in addition to the self-care mentioned above, is to find a therapist quickly. They can help diagnose what you may be experiencing, any possible causes and problem solve ways to help you feeling back to normal ASAP. And honestly, sometimes, that means quitting your current team or job. Some teams/jobs really are just triggering for mental illnesses and don’t work well for everyone.

Here are some resources if you’re feeling this way right now:

Text HOME to 741-741 to get in touch with a Crisis Counselor from CrisisTextline.com

Look for a local support group via DBSA (Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance):

https://www.dbsalliance.org/support/chapters-and-support-groups/find-a-support-group

Find a psychologist/therapist via a reputable source like Psychology Today

Hopefully this is helpful in figuring what could be going on or validating some of your hypotheses around what you’re feeling. Have any other tips/suggestions? Share it in the comments below!