Out Loud Blog

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Big Girls Cry

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A couple of interactions with clients recently have me thinking about my early days as a trainee solicitor. My first piece of work experience entailed working with a man who had very little time or patience for the insecurities of the rather nervous, red-faced student before him. An intensive series of sessions designed to clarify the complexities of a balance sheet resulted in nil learning and many dashes to the ladies where I would cry copiously and then compose myself for another round of exasperation from this increasingly ill-tempered man.

Many years later I look back at my younger self with a mixture of compassion and incredulity.

And I’m sad to say, I suspect there are still many young and perhaps older women who seek refuge in the ladies to release their pent up emotion.

Why is this? And might it somehow be connected to why so many women start out with great ambition, only to falter at various hurdles along the way leaving just a few standing in senior positions at the end of the race?

For too long the thinking is that for a woman to succeed in a professional or corporate environment, she needs to leave all that emotion and sensitivity at home and replace it with a very thick and shiny suit of armour when she goes to work. She needs to show up more, be strong, assertive and conceal her distinctively feminine vulnerabilities.

After all no one wants a weeping woman in the boardroom.

Or maybe they do. Maybe a weeping woman is exactly what they do need.

A feeling, sentient female who can bring not just her searing intellect but also her intuition, range of emotion and expert reading of the emotional field could be just the thing to promote creativity, full permission and heart to a turgid, stuck meeting for example.

Or to an all-nighter, say, for a legal negotiation where everyone is feeling stressed and exhausted, it might just take a brave, truthful and rather tired and emotional woman to see this is part of a silly, ego-driven stamina competition and be prepared to say ‘this is stupid, let’s go home and get some rest’.

If I could go back to my younger self I would urge her to look at those tears of frustration and humiliation, and go back to that man and explain exactly how his method of teaching inhibits rather than enhances her learning. I would probably then ask her to explore why an artistic, creative extrovert is struggling to understand dry balance sheets and encourage her to pursue a career better suited to her talents rather than wait almost a lifetime to discover her true vocation.

Tears, in fact all emotion, have something to teach us and are full of information – not just for the individual experiencing them but for the people witnessing them too – and it seems a crying shame to confine their rich wisdom to the sterile interior of the ladies loo.

If you have found yourself rushing to the ladies in order to hide those shameful tears from the office please share your experience with us. Or maybe you’ve chosen to cry in front of your work colleagues and faced disapproval.

Or perhaps you believe crying has no place in the work environment and is a self-indulgence best kept for behind closed doors.

Whatever your opinion, be OUT LOUD, be honest, fearless and speak up; your truth will inform and enhance the world.

And if you’re a woman struggling to be fully yourself at work, struggling in fact to be OUT LOUD, email me at and we can start the conversation.

About Rona Steinberg

My work as a coach is centred around a simple desire to connect authentically and powerfully with my clients working with them to realise their goals and potential – in whatever sphere these may manifest themselves. I bring warmth, compassion, energy, humour and a keen intellect to my coaching.

Comment

  • Annie

    12 March 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Love this Rona!

    Especially this bit “A feeling, sentient female who can bring not just her searing intellect but also her intuition, range of emotion and expert reading of the emotional field could be just the thing to promote creativity, full permission and heart to a turgid, stuck meeting for example.”

    and this bit “I would probably then ask her to explore why an artistic, creative extrovert is struggling to understand dry balance sheets and encourage her to pursue a career better suited to her talents rather than wait almost a lifetime to discover her true vocation.”

    And all of it. Well said Lady Rona! and thank you :-)

  • Rona

    12 March 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you Annie. So glad you relate to the sentiment. x

  • Inge Woudstra

    28 April 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Sort of sounds nice, if you could just cry at work. But it seems to never work. You are just seen as someone weak in need of help. Or worse: send off home to recover (as many people (men) can’t handle tears).

    What would you need to do to make it work? How could it come across as strong?

    • Rona Steinberg

      28 April 2014 at 1:43 pm

      Inge, thank you. I think this is exactly my point. In being ready to show the weakness and vulnerability of tears, there is strength. And this is where we need to educate the world of work and men especially to see that our perception of what is acceptable at work ie being ourselves, has to change. This is my BIG MISSION, to give everyone (women particularly) permission to be themselves, to have and express their emotions, normalise the fact that sometimes work, life can be really stressful or painful and having a weep about it, isn’t the end of the world. Inge it would be wonderful if you would share with us a moment when you have cried at work or felt you had to hold back the tears, what that was like, what happened, what would you have wanted to be different?

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