Is It Okay to Cry at Work?
I'm an emotional person and I see nothing wrong with having a good cry. But according to my yearly review, it makes people in the office uncomfortable. I never gave it much thought—if your boss is particularly lacerating or someone gets nasty, crying seems like a natural response. It's not as if I'm wailing at the top of my lungs every day. Isn't it okay to get weepy on occasion?
Dear sob sister,
Of course it is, and here are the occasions: (1) a daughter's wedding, (2) a parent's funeral, (3) virtually all toe stubbings, bikini waxings, onion choppings and commercials in which a soldier comes home from Iraq to brew a deeply satisfying cup of coffee and surprise his dog.
I don't think cutting people to shreds is the most effective way to manage a staff, but your boss should be able to criticize you without any part of your face squinching, quivering, or dripping. If a coworker hurts your feelings, either make a beeline to the nearest vending machine and consume enough chips and candy to momentarily stave off the pain; approach the colleague in question and clear the air; or decide that in the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal and move on. I tend to go for the salty/sweet snack option while maintaining an endless grudge, but that's just a personal preference—it's your call.
If the boss is yelling and you're about to spring a leak, excuse yourself and have a drink of water or take a walk around the block. Then get back in there as fast as possible and explain that you're taking your review to heart and will make every effort to do an excellent job. Feel free to cry into your beer, your friend's shoulder, your pillow, or the tissues provided by a very wise shrink...but do it after 5 p.m.
I'm about to turn 50, which means I've been living with HIV for 26 years. I'd like to finally speak publicly about it, but my family wants me to stay quiet. I believe someone might benefit if I share my story. What should I do?
Dear birthday girl,
You have been given the gift of life, and if you want to give something back to people who are struggling, well then, I say: Make a Joy-ful noise!
That's the beauty of turning 50. You've been around for Splenda, Labradoodles and Amazon Prime; antibiotics becoming challenged, antidepressants becoming essential; the opening of Starbucks, the closing of Borders; the rise of partisan politics, the fall of Harvey Weinstein; the AIDS epidemic and the cocktail of meds that keep it at bay. Hell, for all I know, you've even sat through the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey. My point is that you've spent half a century making the same old mistakes, making brand-new mistakes, and learning something from every single one of them. I'm not sure why your family wants you to stay quiet—maybe they're trying to protect you from small-minded people. Or maybe they're the small-minded ones. Either way, what I'm certain of is this: Staying quiet when you have something of value to contribute is a waste of your hard-won experience. You've more than earned the right to do your thing.
The firm where my husband, Neil, practices law recently brought in a new attorney, and Neil seems to be lunching with her almost every day. He says they're working on a case together; she's "divorced and very nice." We've been married for seven generally happy years, but I can't help feeling threatened. Am I allowed to tell him to either go out with a group or stop lunching with this lady?
—Kayla, Washington, D.C
My dear Kayla,
This is America, and you're allowed to tell him whatever you want—but don't! Insisting that Neil not have lunch with his new colleague does three unfortunate things: It says you don't trust your husband. It puts him in an awkward position at work. And it makes me wonder if you're actually the perfect woman for Mike Pence.
Here's a thought. Arrange a dinner date, order a bottle of something red and explain to Neil that even a faithful husband can be slightly tempted, just as a trusting wife can be a little insecure, and that his almost daily lunches are a source of anxiety for you. Let him know that if he's ever feeling that seven-year itch, you'd love nothing more than to scratch it. But, Kayla, before you do any of this, make a point of meeting the very nice divorced woman. A brief chat might be all it takes to put your fears to rest. Who knows—you might even think of a very nice divorced man for her.
Lisa Kogan is O's writer at large and the author of Someone Will Be with You Shortly: Notes from a Perfectly Imperfect Life. To ask Lisa a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.