Reader: I’m worried that my emotions and crying at the office will keep me from getting the higher-level jobs that I want.

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Reader question: I admit that I’m an emotional person and cry easily. But based on feedback from a few co-workers, I’m apparently seen as being “too emotional in the workplace” and now I’m worried that my emotions and crying at the office will keep me from getting the higher-level jobs that I want. How do I know if I’m showing too many emotions at work?

Lisa’s answer: Tears are a natural part of being human, because humans have feelings and emotions. However, there aren’t many times when crying is acceptable at work. If your co-workers say your crying is making them feel uncomfortable, then it sounds like you’re showing too many emotions – and that it’s time to heed their warnings.

First, write down all the recent workplace situations where you felt emotional or cried. Then, analyze these situations. Do you see any patterns? For example, do you have a tendency to cry when receiving feedback? Do you get emotional when dealing with conflict or in new situations?

Analyzing when you get emotional at work will help you identify your triggers. Once you understand your emotional triggers, you’ll be in a much better place to determine how to work on reigning in your emotions in the workplace. Here are a few suggestions:

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Receiving feedback: Take a deep breath and seek to understand the comments. Be thankful that people are willing to provide feedback. Then, determine the actions you can take to change either your behavior/skills or the perception others hold of you.

Dealing with conflict: Try pretending you’re a consultant — because it’s the job of consultants to remain calm and figure out solutions. Separating yourself from conflicts can help you distance yourself from the associated emotions that might make you cry, so you can rise above those emotions.

In new situations: No one who feels entirely comfortable in every situation. Start purposely stepping outside your comfort zone. The more challenging the situations you take on, the more opportunity you’ll have to learn and grow.

Bottom line: While crying is a normal human reaction to certain events, it shouldn’t be a reaction to typical situations in the workplace. Crying can also cause some people to view that person as incompetent or unable to handle the stress of a normal business environment. This, in turn, could indeed hurt your promotion opportunities, especially if you’re trying to make it to the management or executive level.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at