Tom Purcell, 5/21/2007 [Archive]

Crying At Work

Crying at Work

By Tom Purcell

The Wall Street Journal article nearly brought me to tears: Crying has become acceptable in the workplace.

A growing number of workers, especially those in their 20s and 30s, no longer see crying at work as a bad thing. They think it's bad to conceal their emotions.

Jean Twenge, a professor at San Diego State University, said they were raised by parents who encouraged them to express their feelings -- parents who continually told them how smart and talented and perfect they are.

Now that these runts are in the workplace -- now that they're in reality -- they can't handle the pressure. Their meany bosses -- greedy fellows who care about turning profits -- are demanding and critical. No wonder everybody is crying.

One woman -- an accountant in her early 30s -- broke into tears when her boss asked her to install software on her computer. When the boss asked her why she was blubbering, the woman said, "You scare me!"

It's not just women who are crying. Though they are more likely to cry than men, it has become more socially acceptable for both men and women to cry, according to Stephanie Shields, a Penn State psychology professor.

A female communications specialist in Boston gave an example. She said a male co-worker in his 20s had to fight "back tears while telling her about a chewing-out he'd gotten from a colleague." She said that a guy less in touch with his feelings might have expressed anger or pounded the table.

How Neanderthal that would have been.

Some bosses are getting in touch with their feelings, too. A CEO of a credit-counseling service said he can't expect his employees to be compassionate and caring with clients, then turn off their feelings like a switch. He said he knows how upsetting things can get. If they cry, he said, there is "no apology needed."

I'll tell you what is needed: some backbone. We've gotten way too sensitive -- way too eager to give into our feelings and weaknesses. We've gone soft.

Here's another softy trend. Napping is now acceptable in the workplace. Now I'm a big proponent of napping. It definitely boosts my productivity. But when I used to work in a corporate office, I napped the way an effective employee is supposed to.

I took a late lunch and sneaked out to my car. I flipped on some classical music and reclined the seat. I had some incredible naps in the parking garage and nobody knew about it but me.

But today's napping employees?

Companies are erecting tents in large napping rooms. Employees are curling up with the company dog -- a dog makes them feel happy -- for a nice snooze. Nobody is embarrassed about it.

Nobody is embarrassed about anything anymore.

Look, there is a time and a place for everything. There is a time and a place for a man to nap. There is a time and a place for a man to cry: the birth of his child, the death of a loved one and when a late pass results in his team winning the Super Bowl.

There is a time and a place for a man to reveal his emotions, too. The time is usually in the evening and the place is usually a pub. Only a man's bartender should know his innermost feelings.

But that isn't the case anymore, and that is why I worry. While tough-guy terrorists are plotting to blow us up, our fellows are misting up as they whine about their boss to co-workers.

We need to turn things back. We need to get our civilization back on track. Here's a good way to start: There shall be no more crying in the workplace, especially by men. There shall be no more napping, either (unless you sneak out to your car).

God forbid that the terrorists attack us again. But if they do, it's better that we are stoically working at our desks rather than curled up with the company dog, sobbing over something our meany boss said to us.

Tom Purcell is a humor columnist nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons. For comments to Tom, please email him at

RESTRICTIONS: 'Tom Purcell's column may not be reprinted in general circulation print media in Pennsylvania's Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Westmoreland Counties. It may appear only in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and its sister publications."

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