In this day and age, with the state of the world what it is... it's a miracle people aren't sobbing at every gas pump, cash register and red light.
Tears are healthy.
Unless they're being used for manipulation or a tantrum.
We release emotion with our tears.
And one of the most emotional places to be is at work.
That can be a sobfest.
So what is the best way to help in that situation?
Let's compare notes and tissue brands.
Redditor tiredofland wanted to hear about the times they had to deal with emotions at work.
"How do you handle people crying at work?"
I have cried many a time over the years. Especially when waiting tables. A hug always helped.
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"As a funeral director, I tend to just touch them on their arm and hand them tissues. And stay quiet."
Cry on Me
"I usually provide a tissue. I often get hugged. My last job, we had a meeting and one of the people in the meeting, well, she seemed off. Everyone filed out and I kind of lingered, asked, 'Hey, is there something wrong you want to talk about?' Boom, waterworks, she had to put her cat down this morning, etc. I am the guy in the office people cry on, I guess."
to a science...
"I'm a teacher, so it's a near daily occurrence for me. I have a jar full of candy - usually chocolate- on my desk (the kids call it sad candy), a chair, and a big round plush bird toy just the right size for hugging. His name is Sherbert, cause he's colored like rainbow sherbet. They can talk it out with me or just cry in silence if they'd rather, but I just sit with them until they're ready to re-join the world. It's sad, but I have this crap down to a science."
The Stress of It All
"I work for a 911 center, you better believe there is crying. Especially when an employee is new and they give CPR to an infant and its not a positive turnout, someone kills themself while you are talking to them on the phone. Pretty soon your heart and soul die and you can deal with it, but something especially awful happens and it hits you. I have been doing it for 28 years and have seen plenty people come and go, who couldn't handle the stress?"
"In the veterinary industry, unfortunately, if you notice a co-worker is or has been crying, usually you pretend not to have noticed, maybe ask them nonchalantly if they can do something for you that isn't client-facing for a while like fill prescriptions, and don't bring it up later unless you're friends outside of work."
"Everybody cries at work at some point, and it's not even usually about a sick/dying animal. If a client is crying though, you have to be sensitive, empathetic, comforting, gentle, offer them privacy and condolences without smothering them."
"Clients cry for the reasons you expect, and of course it's hard to see them through it, because dealing with a sick or dying pet is hard. Staff will often shed a tear in these appointments too, but most often when a co-worker is crying it's because another person went out of their way to hurt them. Be kind to your veterinary staff folks, we feel pain too."
People do seem to cry a lot. Makes sense, I do.
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"'Is there anything I can do?' Then just listen. Often the listening is enough."
"I work in healthcare, so this happens quite frequently. Usually it’s patients. Most often, people just want their feelings validated and that someone understands them. That’s all. Being empathetic goes a long way."
"Yes! Empathy truly goes a long way!"
"Saw a chick crying at work, sitting outside. Half wanted to ask her if she was ok but when someone is crying hard sometimes they just want to be left alone in their feelings and it must be embarrassing enough to cry at work, so I left her alone and kept walking."
He is Awful
"Many years ago I (male) was having an extended discussion with a female coworker about something technical and I noticed that she would periodically start crying during our talk. I was so dense that I thought (perhaps out of intended politeness) that I should just ignore this and go on."
"For some reason I have often thought about this and reflected on the fact that it would have been much more humane to at least ask her if she was OK, if she would prefer to talk later, if she would like to talk instead about what was upsetting."
"Later I heard from someone else that she had travelled to the area from another state with her boyfriend. He had a job at another company nearby that was expanding rapidly and she had received the news that he was already cheating on her with multiple coworkers."
"I follow the golden rule so I ignore them, pretend not to see them, and later talk to them normally like nothing happened, because that is what I want in their position."
"Same! I tend to get more upset if someone checks on me, because now I'm embarrassed and feel exposed on top of what's causing me to cry in the first place. Since I never want to be the cause of that, I won't ever approach someone in that state."
There is no perfect way to comfort somebody. You just do it. Or apparently... look away.
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