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How to cry at work without the social cost

How to cry at work without the social cost
By Kimberly Elsbach
Published: June 19, 2018

In my own research, which I conducted with my colleague Beth Bechky, we looked at a particular emotional display: crying. We focused on crying because it may be expressed in response to many of the emotions employees feel at work (e.g., frustration, anger, sadness), and because it is highly salient and memorable for people who observe it at work.

For the study, we interviewed 65 full-time, working professionals employed in a variety of industries and firms in Northern California. Our findings revealed one way to explain why observers tend to be judge women who display emotions at work differently than they judge men who do the same. They showed that when assessing female criers at work, observers rely on cognitive “scripts” about the way people should act in common—and stressful—work contexts such as receiving negative feedback.

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