Here's What's Happening When You Cry at Work

Who hasn't fantasized about telling off their boss or that aggravating co-worker? Of course, the reality never seems to end the way the daydream does, so when you boil over at work, you're more likely to cry than to yell. Supervisors and workers are all pretty divided on the appropriateness of crying at work, but the truth is, the science and psychology behind it is both fascinating and unexpected.


Moneyish recently reported on crying at work in light of a new art installation at the University of Utah. Graduating senior Nemo Miller created a "cry closet" in the school's library; it's a highly visible, freestanding structure that insulates participants and gives them space to de-stress. While these spaces aren't often specifically designated for crying or letting off steam in private, several high-profile companies with open-office plans do feature the equivalent of a telephone booth or "nursing pod" for employee use.

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If you think you've never known a workplace crier, you may be surprised that nearly half of workers say they've shed some tears at the office. Women may cry four times more often than men do, which could stem from a number of cultural factors (toxic masculinity, power imbalances at the workplace) and, surprisingly, physiological ones.


"Women do not really cry at work because they're sad; they cry because they're angry and they're frustrated," author Anne Kreamer told Moneyish. "And women produce six times the amount of prolactin (the tear-making hormone) than men do, so we're naturally wired to cry more. And our tear ducts are smaller than men's, so tears will stream down our faces more readily. So we look like we're more emotionally out of control, when we're not."

Furthermore, women who cry at work are often branded as manipulative; in fact, they often feel worse after an office cry, "as if they've failed a feminism test," Kreamer says. Men, however, report that it's cathartic, and they'll feel better after. As if the wage gap wasn't bad enough. Read the whole Moneyish piece for more.