A woman crying at her desk with the caption "Letting your emotions show"

Clinton’s campaign manager says women should “cry more” in the workplace: insight from Ben Edwards business coach and motivational speaker.

The former head of communications for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Jennifer Palmieri, has given women in business some surprisingly controversial advice: nod less, cry more. According to Palmieri, rather than attempting to portray those qualities we associate with men – such as strength, security and few displays of emotion– women should normalise the practice of crying in the workplace and make others less reluctant to do so.

There are many disadvantages to bottling up our emotions during time of stress; this translates into the workplace. Hillary Clinton found that her inability to openly express emotion was in the end detrimental to her campaign; at one point, she pushed herself so far that she ended up in hospital because of exhaustion and dehydration.

The question as to whether women should cry at work is therefore not a simple one, sparking the interest of business leaders everywhere, addressing not only the matter of professionalism and what is appropriate at work, but also raising issues surrounding gender and the increasing pressures of the workplace.

So, should woman cry at work? Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Jennifer Palmieri, certainly thinks so. After Clinton’s collapse during her 2016 presidential campaign due to stress and dehydration, Palmieri immediately shut off any critics by stating that “it’s our world and we should be able to cry in it if we want to.” Palmieri also commented that if crying in the workplace is normalised, we may start to see the end of women feeling as though they need to adopt typically ‘male’ traits to get ahead at work.

Clinton’s experience demonstrates that had she not refrained from perhaps crying occasionally in the workplace or expressing emotion, then her health may not have deteriorated as much as it did. Her situation is certainly relatable to any workplace, with many women all too familiar with feeling the need to contain their emotions or run to the toilet in an attempt to hold back tears. While the old-age piece of advice says to avoid bottling up emotions, many women still feel they must when they are at work.

Hillary Clinton making a speech at a campaign in 2016

Yet there is no simple answer and in today’s climate of increasing gender equality and addressing gender discrimination in the workplace and Ben Edwards – a business coach, motivational speaker and qualified NLP practitioner – offers his advice to business leaders who are interested in solutions for this issue.

Know your Duty of Care

Ben explains that sometimes it’s not always a matter of should women cry in the workplace, but how can employers help their staff to prevent this from happening. As an employer, you have a responsibility to recognise if an employee is struggling with something either related to work or home. By encouraging your staff to communicate openly, employees have a chance to express their emotions before they escalate. Ben has seen a lot of clients who feel ignored and therefore unable to deal with challenging situations when they have no one to confide in at work, especially if they are unsure who to seek advice from.

Encourage time management

Neither employer or employee wants to spend time at their desk crying when there are tasks to be completed. In fact, very few people want their colleagues to see them upset. A new employee might need a point in the right direction with time management if they feel their workload is too heavy or an existing employee might need to implement better organisation to improve their working day. Ben encourages businesses to make sure their staff are managing their time effectively, implementing effective strategies that employees can use throughout the day to become more productive

Remember there will be exceptions

Ben is aware that many businesses feel displaying emotion at work is not professional and decreases productivity. However, there will be exceptions and sometimes an employee will be dealing with something that they simply cannot keep to themselves; with so many hours spent at work, it’s likely that this will be the place they unwillingly release their emotions. Telling your employees they can’t cry at work is likely to discourage them from even turning up if they are going through a challenging time, having further adverse effects. If your employee does get upset on the odd occasion, let them know that you appreciate this is an understandable rarity; it is important to distinguish between a one-off event and recurring issue. In instances such as this, the issue is likely to pass naturally, however if an employee is visibly upset on a recurring basis, this may warrant further action. The reality is that a business must operate, and tasks need to be completed throughout the day, which simply cannot be done if an employee is constantly distracted. Discuss your concerns with the employee and offer your support; work to find a manageable solution in collaboration with the employee and remember that it is just as important for this individual to be willing to accept help and make necessary changes as it is for you to offer help.

If you find the prospect of discussing these concerns with your employee, it may be beneficial to hire an expert professional akin to handling personal problems within the workplace, such as a corporate coach.

Should you need more support dealing with stress or helping your staff to deal with work pressures, visit www.benedwards.com