“Oh I would never cry at work!”
That's what I thought before I worked in Hollywood. But my confidence was delusional. In fact, I cried on more than one occasion when I worked in this seemingly glamorous industry.
The simple reality is that Hollywood work is demanding. Bosses are short-tempered, and complaints and profanity are prevalent. So even those with thick-skin can reach their limit. So whether you're working in entertainment, or for any crazy boss, it’s essential to have a solid – Cry At Work Protocol. Here are 5 suggestions.
1. Flee the Scene
Where are you? Sitting at your desk is not ideal. Sobbing at work is generally best enjoyed alone, as a private affair. I enjoy a nice cry, without anyone noticing. So leave your desk or office. But please walk, and don’t run as this will likely draw additional attention to yourself which is counter-productive. But if makeup is running down your face, please move swiftly. My go-to spot was the bathroom since it was generally a place of solitude. Where I worked in Hollywood, everyone was so ultra busy, that people avoided drinking any liquids to avoid the need to use the restroom. Thus this under-frequented locale makes for the perfect destination for a good cry.
If the bathroom is a popular spot at your job, leave the building. I’ve also done this on more than one occasion, sadly. One time, that didn’t make it into my book, I was so upset, that when I left the building to cry, I *genuinely* considered never going back in. Life outside may look so wonderful that you may never want to return. So use this option at your own risk. I went back in because I didn't (yet) have another way to pay my bills.
Another frequented option when fleeing your desk is the Car-Cry. I’ve only ever used this option on my drive home or when I had to run work errands. In those moments when I was alone in my car and reflecting on the sad and depressing reality of my life, sometimes crying was inevitable. But the car-cry is a go-to option for many during work hours as well. Pro: you’ll have a space where you feel really comfortable. Con: unless you have tinted windows, you’ll likely look like a lunatic if anyone else walks through the parking lot.
2. Use A Disguise:
If the cry is too advanced for you to leave your immediate area, you can utilize a disguise to help you out.
Fake sneezing and coughing can go a long way. That allows you to have tissues up by your face without seeming too odd. You can even blame allergies for their prolonged usage. “Ugh, my sinuses,” is a well placed comment if anyone looks too hard. Or even better, deflect attention away from yourself. "Do you have any pets?” The implication there is that something other than misery is triggering your watery eyes. With that comment you could then either stay at your desk with you face buried in the tissues or flee to a safer location. Note – this strategy will not seem believe if only minutes ago you were screamed at by your boss, in public, so use your judgment on which strategy to employ.
In the case of coping with the aftermath of an attack, if possible the best strategy would be to hold-it-together until you’re able to do #1 and flee the scene. If that’s not possible, see #5
Note, if you fake cough too violently or frequently, it may be mistaken for choking. And the last thing you want or need is some broken ribs from receiving a shoddy or violent Heimlich. Although, a few broken ribs would likely get you out of work for a least a few days, so on second thought, maybe this is a viable option.
But if you simply want to stay at your desk and cry in peace, what are you wearing? If by chance it’s a hoodie, you’re in luck. The shadow it creates, and the masking it provides will be great! Do you wear glasses? Sun glasses are ideal. And of course, if you’re crying at your desk, it’s optimal to avoid eye contact with co-workers. Note, if you’re flush or have a wet face, it may be possible to blame it on the temperature and say you’re sweating and over-heated. But if there's snot accompanying the dampness, that or a red nose could be give-aways.
Perhaps you’ve started crying but really just want to stop. Re-directing your thoughts is the best course of action. Anything funny or happy you can think of? Anything positive in your life? If you work somewhere like The Factory, which i describe in my book, trying to think of something positive may accelerate your crying when you’re unable to identify anything good. But that’s okay. There are other ways to stop crying. I’ve had success with putting water in my mouth and forcing myself to relax while I hold it and not swallowing. But note, this could lead to additional issues if you’re kind of a mess and wind up spitting it out all over yourself. And the last thing you want is to look even more deranged.
If you’re stuck at your desk crying, can’t get away, can’t use a disguise and don’t want to fake allergies, another option is to hide. You have a desk – get under it. There are lots of reason to be underneath your desk. Perhaps you dropped something – it’s only natural to look for it. Or maybe you need to tie your shoe. Note this excuse is awkward if you’re in heels. Perhaps you got something stuck in your shoe and you need to get down there. Who knows, sometime you just need to be under your desk.
But note, this method should ideally only be utilized for a minute or less. It's an effective location to quickly wipe away tears and get it together, lest people start to question your mental well-being.
5. Embrace it
If you’re unable or unwilling to flee or use a disguise, hey just go for it. If you’re just openly crying at your desk, maybe you can get a day off. And wouldn’t that be wonderful? If you're crying, clearly something is wrong so maybe you can deal with it better at home. But then again, you probably also run the risk of being fired if people think you can’t handle your job. But hey, being fired might not be so bad. After all, if this job is driving you to cry at your desk, maybe a change in employment is a positive development. And if you’re fired, at least you’ll be able to collect unemployment as you search for something better. And hey, that’s a win right there.
But really, anyone can have a one-off reason for crying at work...But if this is a regular occurrence for you, you might want to consider changing something. And that could be either your mindset or your job!
To hear more about what led me to tears at work, more than once, check out my book, Hollywood Insanity.