At the age-old office work question: is crying at work unprofessional?

For women, workplace environments can be particularly toxic and troubling. From office workplace harassment and discrimination to miscommunication it’s not unusual for many to feel frustrated or even doubtful of their place in the office. With the emotional weight of these fears and burdens on our shoulders it can’t be completely surprising when thresholds crash and the tears begin to flow. It’s important to know that feeling exhausted, worried, or even just like letting out a good cry isn’t uncommon in the office.

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Below, women of Reddit are sharing their experiences of doing just that.

“Totally me, but then add on not being able to enter into confrontation situations even if it’s to tell someone I’ve been wronged. Now sprinkle the frustration of knowing I really need to say something, then smother in the anger of knowing I’m just gonna suck it up again to save of the embarrassment of crying instead of calmly talking like the fucking grown ass woman I am.”-notpeopley

“Oh gosh happened to me two days ago at work. Boss said I was insinuating something that implied he was upset with me. I ended up crying and lied about why I was crying (said a friend found out she can’t have kids, which is sort of true but not why I was crying) and then he followed it up with some insensitive things about people with infertility. It didn’t help me stop crying.”- Gmantheloungecat

“Not trying to read too much into this or saying this is you, but this sounds like a fawning strategy that children employ to avert being shamed and punished by their parents. There are typically four insecure survival responses that children resort to when they feel the pain of abandonment from their parents, and usually internalize one of them. Some children learn the fight response, where as adults they throw tantrums and become hostile in some way; some learn the flight response, where as adults they just leave and disengage completely, becoming avoidant; some learn the freeze response, where as adults they become paralyzed and express themselves rationally no matter what, and often go numb emotionally; some learn the fawn response, where they try to illicit a remorseful response from their parent, and as adults, we might cry or become highly depressed and forlorn. It’s typically rooted in early C-PTSD developed during childhood, and when activated, we can become really emotionally dysregulated. It’s a deeply neurological activity, so we ought to not blame ourselves too much. It is what it is, it’s an adaptation to pain. Psychologically, it represents a state in which there is still yet a strong external locus of control that we are oriented around for stability, which in turn represents attachment wounds. It’s why, especially today, people are increasingly becoming fixated on the need for external validation, and have difficulty being low key and unconcerned with attention from others. Usually when you have very harsh parents (typically the father who is overly critical and angry) we develop one of these as an automatic response.”- unknown_poo

“I’m a huuuge cryer lol. Sometimes my boyfriend and I get frustrated, as every couple does, do to some misunderstanding or communicating. He doesn’t even yell, if he just has to have a hint of frustration or annoyance in his voice and I will be in tears. Lucky for me though when once of us becomes upset we stop arguing and comfort each other instead, and then wait till we feel more level headed to explain the miscommunication lol.”- 


“I’ve been accused of using it to be manipulative but that’s not true. I’ve even told people just to ignore it and keep talking, cos it’s just gonna happen regardless.

However, having someone say “crying doesn’t make me less angry” is a dick move on their part!”-


“God fuck all people who say things like that to you. Banish them forever! That is so toxic and wrong, I’m sorry you’ve been treated this way like, seriously, even if someone is mad at you for completely legit reasons, using that kind of language to shut down your emotional outpouring is insane.”- thesnuggyone

“When someone I care are stressed and they don’t answer politely or turn a simple innocent joke into a lesson cough cough parents cough cough I just go to my room and cry of frustration or whatever.”- Thalinaa

“Lately, I’ve begun embracing it and telling people to speak to me in softer voice or being more understanding cuz I can’t be blamed how I react if they keep screaming.”- NoBullshitJustShit

“I’m a huge frustrated crier and it’s so annoying. I also deal with ADHD so a lot of my emotional responses are heightened (happy = VERY HAPPY, sad = VERY SAD, etc), which doesn’t help. I tend to take second when I feel the tears come on and say something to the effect of “I’m a frustrated crier, it’s basically involuntary for me” and then explain why it is I feel frustrated in that scenario aka “I’m frustrated because it seems to me like you’ve taken person A’s side without giving me the time to explain my side of the situation” and that tends to help explain the reason why I’m crying, or about to cry, in the first place.”- spoopysith

“’Angry crying’ happens all the time. I struggle to find the right words to express my frustration, it builds up, and boom !!! I’m ugly crying in front of everyone.”- Apprehensive_You_803

“Sometimes I just have to tell the person I’m talking to ‘ignore my face, this just happens sometimes (all the time)’ so I can awkwardly keep going with the conversation.”- Raconteuse-Recon

“My most justified story of this is when I got sick. In 2013 I got sick and just thought it was a bug. After about 4 minths of not being able to hold down food I went to my doc, they told me it was anxiety.

Cue 3 years, and 47 er visits where every time I was told I had an eating disorder or anxiety and things like that. It was to the point I was throwing up water, yet I was gaining a ton of weight. I had gained about 100lbs even though i could hardly eat. At one point I was throwing up blood (later found out it was an ulcer)

I had every gi test they could think of and everything was clear. Still told it was in my head. Finally I had enough. I was literally going to die if they didnt figure this crap out.

I went to a new primary and explained everyth8ng. I BURST into tears and told him if he said it was anxiety i was leaving. After everything was told to the doc he tood me that he would help me and run some more tests, but he really thought it was anxiety. I left as I said I would, still in tears. At about 8:30 that night my phone rang and it was the doc, he convinced me to do a brain MRI. He said since we tried everything else this was what he wanted. I rolled my eyes but a few days later after fighting with the insurance company I got it done. The next night he called me and told me I needed to see a neurologist ASAP because my MRI was not clear.

I saw the neurologist and they got me in for a few tests, gave me a diagnosis, and tons of meds. I got better almost immediately, and lost all my weight I had gained…. for a few years.

So I have a rare neurological disorder and now I am years and years out from the diagnosis. There are only 2 meds that rltreat my condition, and they are hard on your body. Early 2020 ny kidneys started giving up and I had 4 kidney stones and some loss of kidney function. They had to take me off one med and lower rhe dose on the other. All my symptoms started comming back. This resulted in me needing brain surgery smack in the middle of a pandemic.

That brain surgery was the best thing that ever happened to me. I am 8 months out and finally have my life back (and my hair is comming back too!) , not without some struggle but regardless I am alive and well.

This has come with a million tears and the journey started with me crying in a doctor office because I simply needed help I wasn’t receiving. Crazy how life works. After years of them telling me it was in my head, turns out it was just not the way they were thinking.”- pinch56

“I’m generally very articulate except when I’m angry…why is that? I also will halfway through a sentence forget what my train of thought was so I look like a complete idiot. Especially happens during arguments with my husband.”-Dazzling_Fruit4710

“I don’t know why, but I will literally cry from simply trying to explain myself. As soon as I talk, my eyes start to water, snoot starts drooping from my nose, I begin to hyperventilate and I can’t seem to get those words out of my mouth. It’s super embarrassing and it frustrates me because I can’t get my point across the way I want it to without having people thinking that I’m weak and treating me like I’m special. I’m literally crying as I write this.”- Famous-Imagination-9

“I have the same problem… I discovered that, one of the reasons for this, was that I was convinced subconsciously, the person I was trying to talk or explain my case to, won’t be taking me seriously… (I usually think nobody will take me seriously)

So I end up feeling helpless, and that expressing my emotions, or my stance is useless…

And when someone tries to force me into explaining myself, or when I try to force myself, I get the exact same symptoms as you.”- Saora6

“ I started a new job and due to a rare thing that happens there my training got forgotten. People were expecting me to know things due to the length of time I had been there. I initiated conversation with my boss and gave him a “I am very frustrated and am going to cry while explaining” disclaimer. He was awesome though. Fixed the problem. But omg was it frustrating and embarrassing to just cry while trying to ask for help.”-kulus

“I’m currently in a job training and wrote an email to my boss asking if she saw my vacation request. She didn’t liked that. Given I could have just waited for her answer to the request but I was worried that she might overlooked it and wouldn’t handle it until I would be in school again (where I can’t access my work emails to see if she approved the vacation or not).

She was very very angry with me for writing that email, she also had some other things criticize. Which is okay, that’s her job.

What wasn’t okay was her yelling at me for 30 minutes that I’m an awful and rude trainee, accusing me of using sick days only because I’m lazy (I’m not, I’m chronically ill) and claiming that I’m the worst person ever. I cried. I couldn’t stop it. I felt so attacked and helpless, she was yelling, not letting me explain and I’m already thinking bad stuff about myself. Her reaction to that?

“See Miss XY this is you being unable to even take criticism. Just crying because you cant take it.”

I cried because I can’t stand people yelling at me. That’s abuse in my eyes. You can talk to me in a respectful manner, no need to hit me verbally.”-OverlyShyEnby

“I had a [terrible] boss too. I’ll clue you in: THEY HATE EMAILS.


Because emails are a legal paper trail.

By sending an email about the request, you pinned that request down in time. She couldn’t claim she didn’t know. She couldn’t claim you hadn’t told her. These nutbags hate that.

They love being able to claim YOU forgot to tell THEM about stuff.

Whooodoggie I could go on about the fucking swamp witch who was my old boss. Ugh.

I only found out much later that she had me doing parts of her job while tearing me apart behind closed doors so I felt as worthless as possible.


Because she didn’t want me to have any clue how completely dependent she was on ME getting shit done.

This is how these sorts work.

They treat their best and brightest like complete shit so they have no idea how vital they are.

Happens all over the fucking place, it’s sick.

Fun bonus: She was besties with HR and her second in command was a union steward who was feeding her AAAAALL the info on the people complaining about her. She was being so abused.”- cultured_banana_slug

“I had a similar issue with a doctor. Went in with a medical issue and my regular doctor was out. Saw another doctor. He listened to me, sighed and said “It sounds like it’s all in your head. You don’t need a medical doctor.” I started crying, he said something else, I left and went to the bathroom sobbing. I was so angry but couldn’t stop crying. If it happened again I’d be able to stand up for myself better but I was much younger and it took me off guard.

When my regular doctor was back from maternity leave I saw her and she sent me to a specialist and my medical issue was worked on. It was in fact a medical issue and not something I was making up.”- broke_reflection 

“The fact that I had a similar experience with an ER doctor…

I was just there the night before, they gave me medicine and I felt a little relief and they sent me home…so the next day that I went back it was even more serious because I started showing a new symptom and felt even worse BY THE WAy, I couldn’t speak, swallow, or even cough so I had to communicate using writing He kept asking me what I wanted to do, like I’m some kind of doctor and know what’s wrong with me??? Which btw they didn’t tell me any info the day before, just injected me with fluids and sent me home. Meanwhile (the second time back) I have my nurse coming in and telling me that I’ll need to stay over night so they can monitor my condition because a have a RARE throat infection..I can hear the nurses outside talking about me saying things like “I’ve never seen this before” and “how does someone suddenly get infected like this” So now I’m stressed tf out and he comes in telling me I can go home if I want to just get a prescription and leave At this point I’m very confused because I’m hearing from him that I’m fine, and hearing from others that this is serious and that my throat could close at any moment if I’m not monitored carefully??? He gave me time to think and I told him, I’d like to discuss with my mother when she arrives Not to mention, my sister had taken me because I was unable to move my head and neck in any I had to wait for my mom to arrive because she would be taking me home He came back a couple minutes later pressing me again..still no mother in sight, aka couldn’t leave even if I wanted to I started crying because he wouldn’t even let me explain the situation, and he even told me “well I’m the doctor, she’s just the nurse so you listen to me” so when the nurse came back I told her what happened and that his behavior making me cry is causing me to need to cough more so my throat was hurting even more Luckily there was a shift change in a few minutes so I wouldn’t have to see him again, she was so kind a d reassuring and even called him a dick LOL

But yeah, couldn’t talk, swallow, cough, OR move This infection also causes a rash on your neck and chest so now my skin irritated and hot Possibly needed surgery if medication didn’t do enough and he was so freakin rude and impatient with me, I was barely 19 clearly scared and stressed out and he treated me like I was in the ER for a paper cut The only reason I can think of to explain his behavior is that he’s racist and sexist..horrible experience

Spent 4 days in the hospital and was put on a liquid diet and given medication to take over the next month.”- issa_me_ario

“So each time, someone tells me that abuse was my fault and that I allowed it by not escaping earlier makes me shrivel. I honestly am still at a loss of words to be able to reply to them. It fills me with rage and of course tears follow after. I not being able to escape earlier doesn’t make my abuse invalid. I’m still entitled to feel what I’m feeling right? Because I did what I could have done, all by myself. I’m just astonished, angered and pained as to the first thing that they notice is “some part of it could be avoided by coming out earlier” instead of the perpetual harassment I went through and how it affects me till date.”- unsettled_soul