11 Tips to Avoid Crying at Work

Maddie Lloyd
by Maddie Lloyd
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Oh, emotions. Sometimes they’re hard to control, and sometimes they take control of us. Sometimes we cry because we get stressed out or have an awful or abrasive boss, and other times we’re just dealing with our own personal turmoil.

No matter which way you spin it, crying at work is definitely frowned upon. Tears are a sign of weakness, especially when they come from women.

Your boss or coworkers might think that you’re not tough enough to handle your job, or they might think that you’re immature, dramatic, or manipulative.

If you find yourself getting choked up at work — don’t panic! Follow these steps to learn how to stop crying at work and what you can do if you just can’t hold it all in.

1.Take a deep breath

If you get overwhelmed or upset at work, try to refocus your attention on your breathing. When we get upset, we often don’t let air in and out of our bodies properly — then our breath gets trapped and creates tension. Being aware of your breathing will help you relax physically and mentally.

When you feel the tears starting to come, slowly take a deep breath through your nose and exhale through your mouth and count to ten. Counting will help you focus solely on your breathing and not what’s making you want to cry.

Even just taking a single deep breath can stabilize you when you want to cry. Take one big deep breath in, hold it for a moment (not too long, let’s not faint and cause a scene), and let it all out. This will ease your mind and give you a moment to pause before you have to deal with what’s making you upset.

2. Remove yourself from the situation

If you get the chance to put some space between yourself and what’s making you feel stressed or overwhelmed, it’s probably a good idea to take advantage of that opportunity. Take a step back, give yourself a moment for your emotions to cool down, and heck, watch a funny YouTube video if you need to.

If possible, you might want to avoid scheduling meetings or events that could potentially make you upset until after your emotions have settled. What’s worse than crying at work? Crying at work twice in one day.

3. Distract yourself with pain or humor

Sometimes a simple distraction can make your tears vanish into thin air. You could bite the inside of your cheek, dig a fingernail into your palm, or you could try a crowd favorite — pinching the skin between your thumb and index finger really hard!

If you’re not into the whole causing-yourself-mild-pain-to-distract-yourself thing, you could hold an ice cube to your wrist to get your attention off of your emotions. If you don’t have a plethora of ice cubes at your disposal, you could run your hand under really cold water. Whatever works to change the focus of your attention and avoid a waterfall of emotions.

If none of these tricks work for you, maybe you could revisit that funny YouTube video we mentioned earlier. Making yourself laugh is a great way to get your mind off of your sad feelings.

4. Use props to your advantage

If you have a meeting coming up that you know might send your tear ducts into a frenzy, take a few steps to prepare by coming up with a prop to distract yourself or to hide your tears if you just can’t hold it in.

Bring a piece of paper or a notebook to have in front of you or to hold in your hands. If you feel yourself getting all choked up, look down with the pretense of taking notes or just read from them.

5. Let yourself get angry

Sometimes anger manifests itself as tears. This is unfortunate because crying when you’re angry can cause people to not take your concerns and feelings seriously.

This is an issue that generally affects women more so than men — as children, girls typically aren’t socialized to express anger or engage in conflict, whereas boys are constantly told not to cry.

Being comfortable with being angry, expressing our anger (in a form other than tears), and engaging in conflict can lead to less crying in the future.

6. Try out different coping mechanisms

Take note of what your immediate reaction is when you get upset and try out a new process of dealing with your negative feelings. If you start to pick up on patterns — like getting teary before meetings with your boss — try to address your feelings beforehand to cope with them.

If a certain kind of music calms you down, try listening to a playlist for 15 minutes before tough meetings. Make sure to only listen to music that actually calms you down — if your favorite song is My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion, you probably don’t want to listen to that when you’re trying to avoid getting all worked up.

If your emotions are just too strong, your breathing methods or coping mechanisms have failed you, and you just can’t hold it in — take advantage of these tips to get through your tears without drawing too much attention to yourself.

7. Keep moving forward

When you don’t have the opportunity to remove yourself from the situation that’s made you upset, just try to push through and keep working.

Sometimes tears come up when we’re trying to suppress them, so just continue talking or working, and you’ll find that your tears will dwindle after a few seconds.

8. Just ignore it

Drawing attention to your tears makes people uncomfortable. It also makes people feel like they have an obligation to comfort you or respond in some way. Yeesh, talk about awkward.

An easy solution is as simple as it sounds — just ignore it! If you don’t acknowledge the fact that you’re crying or bring attention to it, everyone else will ignore it too. Hey, they might not even notice. Everyone wins!

9. Lie about it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Crying at work is one of those situations where honesty isn’t the best policy. If you can’t hold back your tears, just make a comment like, “Gosh, my contacts are irritating me so much. No wonder, I’ve been wearing them for over a year! LOL!”

Regardless of whether or not anyone believes you, a white lie gives you and your co-workers a way to move past your tears without making things awkward.

10. On the other end of the spectrum, just be honest about the situation

Sometimes the best way to get rid of our sad feelings is to just be straightforward about them. Just say something along the lines of, “I’m embarrassed that I’ve teared up, but I find it difficult to discuss this subject.” and move on with your conversation.

Don’t spend too much time trying to explain why you’re upset, or people might think you’re looking for sympathy or trying to be manipulative. Plus, you might just end up making yourself upset all over again.

If there’s a topic of conversation that you know will come up at work that particularly upsets you, you might want to plan ahead and rehearse what you’ll say should a few tears come up.

11. Use your tears to show that you’re passionate about your job

If you can’t hold back the tears at work, whether your sad feelings are work-related or personal, make them evidence of your passion for your work.

Should you get upset at work, make a statement that goes something like, “I’m not upset because I can’t handle my emotions, but because I’m so emotionally invested in this project that it upsets me when things don’t go well.”

This will give you the chance to address your tears and promptly move past them, while also showing your boss or coworkers that you’re committed and invested in your work.

Wrapping Up

Unless you’re some sort of psychopathic unemotional monster, we’ve all found ourselves fighting back tears at some point in our lives. It just gets even more difficult at a place like work where crying is stigmatized and seen as a sign of weakness.

If you find yourself trying not to cry at work, just use these helpful tips and take control of your emotions. Don’t be too hard on yourself, just deal with the situation and move on.

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