Gloria Steinem discusses what to do if you burst into tears at work


Gloria Steinem

AP Photo/Dan Steinberg

Gloria Steinem shares advice for crying at work.

It's one of the most frustrating and bizarre phenomenons you could experience at work.


You're in the middle of a heated discussion with a colleague, filling with more and more conviction with each passing word, and all of a sudden you notice that you're welling up with tears.

You're not sad - you're mad, darn it. But for some reason, your body's wires seem to have gotten crossed.

It's a situation many of us, especially women, know all too well, and one that has caused a bit of debate.

While some women - take "Shark Tank's" Barbara Corcoran for example - advise other women to only cry in private, other female leaders like Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg take a different tack and say it's OK to display human emotions at work.


In fact, as TED-Ed writer and editor Alex Gendler points out in his "Why do we cry" video, tears caused by emotional distress have higher levels of pain-reducing and mood-boosting chemicals - so it's possible crying is actually one of our body's mechanisms to literally shed stress.

Legendary political activist Gloria Steinem recently told Lena Dunham for her newsletter, Lenny, that she often cries when angry.

Steinem shared her favorite way to handle it when it happens: One female executive she knows would not stop heated discussions when she felt tears coming on; instead, she would allow herself to get angry, cry, and then keep talking through the tears.

"She had mostly men working for her, so it wasn't so easy to be understood," Steinem said. "And she would just say to them, 'I am crying because I'm angry. You may think I'm sad. I am not sad. This is the way I get angry.'"

"I've always wanted to do that," Steinem said. "It's still my goal."