April 26, 2007, - 5:00 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Uh-oh. More evidence of our nation’s decline and weakening. Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that crying at work gains acceptance, and not just for women. It’s men, too.
The Journal reports that 9/11 and an increase of self-absorbed Gen-Yers in the workplace have contributed to the problem:
Crying at work has long been seen as verboten. But there’s evidence that a growing number of workers, especially those in their 20s and 30s, see it differently. Some think it’s old-fashioned to hide your emotions. Others are quick to cry over negative feedback. And many find themselves at odds with managers who grew up with a more repressive definition of professional conduct.
“Repressive”? Uh, not crying at work is not “repressive.”
Today’s young adults are more comfortable venting all kinds of emotions, says Jean Twenge, an author and associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University, based on generational studies of personality-test results for a total of 1.3 million people. They were “raised with the phrase ‘express yourself,’” she says.
Gen-Yers — who, it is often noted, are accustomed to lavish praise from their parents (See related article.) — are often ill-schooled in taking criticism and burst into tears at negative feedback, Dr. Twenge says. Kathy Lyle, 55, owner of a Chagrin Falls, Ohio, accounting firm, was dismayed when an employee in her early 30s cried in response to a request to install software on a computer. “When I asked her why, she said, ‘You scare me,’” Ms. Lyle says. Startled, Ms. Lyle told her to pull herself together.
Although women still report crying more often than men, it has become more socially acceptable since the 2001 terrorist attacks for both men and women to cry in certain situations, says Stephanie Shields, a psychology professor at Pennsylvania State University and author of a book on emotional expression. Bonnie Sashin, 56, a communications specialist in Boston, says a male co-worker in his 20s fought back tears while telling her about a chewing-out he’d gotten from a colleague. “A guy less in touch with his feelings … might have expressed anger, outrage or pounded the table,” she says.
In a more public case, no one accused 6-foot-3, 253-pound Vernon Davis of being a wimp when he cried last year over being chosen as a first-round NFL draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers. Onlookers took the burly 22-year-old at his word — that he was moved at achieving a dream.
And this guy is still in the NFL?!
Some say crying gets issues out in the open. Lynne Segall, 38, an Atlanta strategy consultant, has cried over feedback from her manager, often when she’s stressed or frustrated. This sparks “healthy dialogue” with her boss, “a very sensitive guy,” she says.
Oy. Where have all the real men gone?
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