Crying at work sucks. It happens, but it sucks, and it’s often perceived as unprofessional … which probably only makes you feel worse and want to cry more, right? Here’s how to turn off the waterworks when you start crying at work, no matter how hard you tried to not do just that.
1. Ignore your tears. If you keep speaking through your tears, assuming you’re not sobbing uncontrollably, chances are your tears will subside. Don’t draw attention to them, or you may actually cry more—or make a colleague awkwardly try consoling you, which will only make you feel even worse than that.
2. Make an excuse. “Ugh, I’m so sorry, I’m not used to these new contact lenses” or “This is the worst time for my stupid allergies to act up” can be solid covers. I say this as someone who genuinely looks like she’s crying pretty often specifically because of those two circumstances.
3. Address it, then move on. If it’s too obvious to ignore, be honest: “I’m sorry, I have difficulty talking about XYZ.” Then keep going.
4. Breathe deliberately. Take 10 long, deep breathes, recommends The Muse. It’ll alter your focus and give you a slight oxygen high, making you feel a little better.
5. Create as much distance as you can between you and whatever’s making you upset. Hate Bryan in accounting for dumping you? Do everything in your power not to run into that jerk. Always cry before you meet with your supervisor? Do that deep breathing before you head into her office.
6. Prime yourself with music. Have an ominous meeting in 20 minutes? While you prepare yourself with notes and the like, also tune into music that puts you in a good mood. Honestly, as douchey as he can be, Kanye West’s “Stronger” is a must.
7. Get comfortable with conflict. Angry tears are ingrained in women because we’re not supposed to be comfortable with conflict or confrontation. Get comfortable with it, even if it means unlearning everything society taught you as a kid.
8. Distract your senses. Pinch yourself. Pluck a rubber band or hair tie on your wrist. Focusing your sensors on other things, like the minor pain or irritation, does two things: It stops you from being sad in the moment and trains you to stop weeping in the boardroom. Of course, this has to be done with caution—if you have a history of self-harm or mental illness, it’s best to avoid.
9. Be your own best defender. If a friend were to start crying at work, what would you say to whoever upset her? How would you handle it on her behalf? Be your own best friend and throw down the gauntlet for yourself. (You may even tell your buddy, “You’re getting worked up over nothing and acting like a brat. Stop it.”)
10. Channel a character. Would Khaleesi, Sasha Fierce, or, Hell, even Kris Jenner cry in this meeting? No? Pretend you’re them. Slay.